Runners began assembling at 7:30 a.m. in the Walter A. Brown Gymnasium at Hopkinton High School, two blocks from the start of the marathon. At 10 a.m., the gym received an Xrating.

That's when Jerry Grasso, a school teacher from Andover, Mass., decided to strip near center court, the better to apply several layers of vaseline to his body and dress for the rade. Most of the runners in the gym barely paid attention, but Grasso immediately was surrounded by several modia types.

When he had pulled on his shorts and shirt, Grasso taped a $5 bill to his starting number. "That's for the beer when I finish running," he said. "At 21 miles, the only thing that keeps me going is thinking about the beer.

"That's the fastest run of the day - from the finish line to the package store."

The boys on the press bus never saw the start of the race, or the fabulous finish, but they were able to see Jock Semple, the feisty old Scotsman who has helped organize this race for years, do his best to trip a nonaccredited runner at the halfway point.

Semple casually stuck out his foot and tripped the man, who looked back, then speeded on his way. "I shoulda' knocked him down," said Semple.

The purists cringed at the interview area when Bill Rodgers talked about the importance of winning the Boston Marathon

"Financially it was important for me to win," he said. "want to do the same thing as Frank Shorter and have my own line of running clothes." Rodgers owns a running shop on Cleveland Circle three miles from the finish.

Other quick-buck types were having a field day at the start. For $6 one could buy an official designer's tie, complete with polda-dot jogger on the front. At Hopkinton, tee shirts that normally are $3 were selling for $8 and a bottle of apple juice from a canteen truck cost 80 cents.

In the gymnasium, one fellow was conducting an independent survey of smokers among the runners. "We've interviewed 400 and I'd say about 30 say they're smokers. One guy said he'd been smoking for 40 years. I he makes it."