What began as an idea by Phil Blair, a Lake Braddock High School track runner, became reality July 21 with the help of NBC's sports anthology "SportsWorld" and a segment called "Sports Fantasy."

Charlie Jones and former Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter presided over the activities, arriving at the Fairfax school with Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan, world record-holder for the indoor mile. What took place thereafter airs this Sunday.

"Sports Fantasy" comes to life when viewers are invited to write in their ultimate sports dream. Once a letter is selected, NBC creates the circumstances necessary to make the dream come true.

Last October, Blair wrote to "SportsWorld" after being inspired by past "Sports Fantasy" telecasts.

"I had seen the show before and I noticed there's a lot of baseball, basketball and golf but no track," said Blair, a two-miler for the Bruins last year as a sophomore. "I thought it would be neat if they would have track, so I wrote in. I said that I would like to run against a world-class miler, but that I'm not fast enough to do it alone."

It wasn't until April that Blair received a response, and it wasn't as though he had spent the previous six months waiting by the phone for NBC to call.

"Actually I had forgotten about the letter," Blair said. "I was really shocked that they would want to do it."

NBC accepted his proposal and asked Blair to put together a relay team with a target time of 3:55 or better in order to ensure a competitive race. With the assistance of Lake Braddock Coach Marshall Windsor, Blair enlisted the help of Lake Braddock teammates Wendy Neely and James and Susie Volpe.

"I didn't know I was going to be running in this," said Neely, who will attend Stanford this fall on a track scholarship. "We figured they would pick four boys and we would just watch and get the thrill vicariously."

Instead, she got the thrill of the second leg of the relay, running between the Volpes. Blair ran the anchor lap.

Originally scheduled for June, the race was delayed while Coghlan recovered from a knee injury. When the principals finally met, it was a typically uncomfortable July day, with the temperature on the track approaching 120 degrees.

"It was a lot of fun," Coghlan said, "but it was really hot. Really hot."

Because each member of the Lake Braddock team only ran one-quarter of a mile, the heat would have a much bigger impact on Coghlan's performance. And although all admitted the run was for fun, the first to the finish line could grin a little wider.

"It was important," Coghlan said. "If I had gone down there and run a 4:10 or slower, I would have known that I'm not ready for the outdoor season in Europe. It was a chance to run competitively in a low-profile race without a crowd and find out how my training is progressing."

It was, of course, a chance of a lifetime for the youngsters.

"I was sort of intimidated," said James Volpe. "It was for fun but I wasn't sure how he {Coghlan} was taking it. We had a lot of fun and still helped him out. But it's hard to be competitive and have fun at the same time."

James Volpe opened the race for the Bruins and took an early lead. However, by the time Neely began the second leg, Coghlan had made up the difference. It was the beginning of a pattern that would last throughout the race.

"Because we only ran quarter-miles, we would go out fast and have the lead for about the first 200 {yards}," said Blair. "But then he would make up the time."

The race ended 4:03 after it began. Coghlan was "satisfied" with his time and made a quick departure to catch a plane back to New York. Shorter, however, stayed around and went for a long run with several Lake Braddock runners who had come out to cheer for their teammates.

Although Blair had originally asked to run against Great Britain's Steve Cram, Coghlan proved to be a more than satisfactory substitute.

"Eamonn was a really super guy," Neely said. "He related real well to us and was really friendly. He wasn't like a lot of world-class runners I've met. He's the best choice they could have made."

Who won? Tune in Sunday afternoon.