With five miles to go, Jeff Wells was running comfortably, almost casually, and thinking about his friend, Bill Rodgers, somewhere up ahead.

"I was saying to myself, 'I hope Bill is winning; I hope he's all right,'" said Wells, who also remembered being jarred back to reality by the crowd lining the final three miles. "They kept saying, 'You can catch him, you can catch him.' So I tried.

"I finally caught a glimpse of him (Rodgers) with about two miles to go. People were waving me on, and I started thinking, maybe I can win this race."

So, Wells, a 24-year-old seminarian who finished 12th a Boston a year ago, put on one of the most memorable finishing kicks in the history of the race. He failed to catch Rodgers by 15 yards and two seconds, but as he lay on a cot in the basement of the Prudential Center, he accepted his fate gracefully.

"Going up toward the finish, I thought I had a chance to catch him," Wells said, "especially when I reached the last corner and made the turn for home. I was just trying to run as hard as I could. I think God was guiding me today. I'm just thankful, to God, for letting me be strong today."