Dear Rosie:

Two rich Washington guys want to make a deal with you. Henry Buchanan wrote The Post yesterday to say he'll put up $100,000 that is yours if you beat him in a marathon. Alex Fraser called to say he'll put up $10,000 if you come within five minutes of your time in Boston.

Buchanan's a certified public accountant who's a runner himself. Four marathons, best time 2 hours 58 minutes. He ran Monday in Boston, in 3 hours 2 minutes. He said you can pick the marathon, preferably in May for "Rosie's benefit. I don't want her to think I want 10 to 12 weeks to improve my condition . . . she can pick the time and the date.

He'll pull the money in escrow. You beat him, it's yours. Lose, and you must permit "qualified and recognized officials at the (Boston) race to make a binding judgment whether or not she was . . . the women's winner.

"My motivation," Buchana wrote, "is for other marathoners, both men and women, but especially for the girl who finished second (Jacqueline Gareau of Montreal). That's a disgrace. For these world-class runners, this year's Boston marathon is their Olympics."

Here's what Fraser said:

"I will offer $10,000 to the charity of her choice, the American Cancer Fund, the Heart Fund, whatever -- I will put the money on deposit. The Post can hold it -- I will give $10,000 if she comes to Washington in the next six months and runs a marathon within five minutes of the time she ostensibly ran at Boston."

Fraser, you should know, is an investor with money in oil. If he says he'll put up $10,000, you can run to the bank with it. What he's interested in is the same thing, Rosie, that you're trying to do. He wans everyone to know the answer.

Did you or didn't you?

Did Runnin' Rosie run 26 miles 385 yards in the Boston marathon?

Or did you take a taxi 24 miles 385 and then slip into the race?

"I don't like people who bend the rules as much as she did," Fraser said, adding quickly, " . . . if she did, in fact, bend them. On the other hand, if she really ran the race, she ought to get credit for it.

"Otherwise, she'll forever be like the guy who ran the football the wrong way (Roy Riegels) or Wrong Way Corrigan who intended to fly to South Dakota or somewhere and wound up in Ireland."

What Alex is saying, Rosie, is that you'll forever be remembered as the Boston Straggler unless you do something to stop it. That is why he is putting up the $10,000. He figures the money will be nice incentive for you.

Alex Fraser is serious about this.

So are you, Rosie. You insist you ran the whole way, just as you insist you ran every step of the 26 miles 385 yards in New York to qualify for the world's most famous marathon in Boston. You have offered to take a lie detector. You have cried in front of television cameras when asked hostile questions such as, "What's the scenery along the Boston route?" There was "beautiful countryside," you said.

There was beautiful countryside," you said.

Wow.

"There were roads winding in and out," you said.

What a picture.

And still people don't believe you.

New York invalidated your time of 2 hours 56 minutes yesterday. They said you didn't run the entire route. They said you took the subway to the finish line. And they didn't even ask you about the scenery in Manhattan. You could have told them that there were a lot of tall buildings. They'd have had to believe you then.

The Boston people are investigating your finish time of 2:31:56. They have talked to witnesses who said you entered the course with about two miles to go. If they are to maintain the Boston marathon as a religion, well, they can't have people coming to church in the middle of the sermon.

Other runners are just as serious about thins as you are. These runners are outraged at the thought of a fraud. They see marathons as a symbol of wholesomeness, a tribute to asceticism. They are, you should know, morally superior to ordinary people.

That's why they don't like your advisor, Steve Marek. They don't understand why anyone would run a marathon wearing a Superman costume.Steve does that. So when he showed up as your advisor right away other runners said that if Marek had anything to do with it, it was a disgrace for sure.

Everybody is too serious, Rosie.

It could have been fun.

Think of it, Rosie.

Instead of crying on national TV, you could have written a book.

"Shortcuts to Fame" would have been a nice title. The book, naturally, would start on Chapter 20.

As Bill Rodgers has done, you could have become rich selling your line of running gear.

Rosie Ruiz shoes -- so comfortable that when the marathon is over, you feet feel like they've only gone a mile or two. These shoes leave no tracks.

Rosie Ruiz shirts and shorts -- science brought us Day-Glow so that Ray Charles could see coming from a mile away, but it took Runnin' Rosie to invent Day-Fade, the fabric that makes you invisible. Dogs can't bite what dogs can't see.

Rosie Ruiz deodorant -- splash it on and you smell like someone who has just run a marathon.

Rosie Ruiz doll -- wind it up and it takes the subway.

Soon enough all of America would be on the Rosie Ruiz diet. You get so thin you disappear. We would see you, Rosie, on an American Express commercial, saying, "Don't go to Boston without it." And your card has no name on it.

You might be interested, Rosie, in one man's theory about what really happened in New York and Boston. He thinks you were just out having fun and got carried away. His name is Wayne Welch and he's a 40-ish marathoner from Washington who dropped out of Boston after 18 miles because the day was too hot.

"I suspect Rosie didn't intend to win Boston," said Welch, who based his suspicions on the story in which a woman photographer said she had ridden with you on the the subway to the New York finish line.

"It was probably innocent. Rosie took the subway to the finish line and walked up behind the chutes for the finishers. She had a bad ankle. She probably said, 'Can you give me some help?' And someone else said, 'Injured runner here.'"

Runners in New York wore computer-coded labels on their racing numbers. Racing officla took those labels as runners crossed the finish line Welch theorizes that someone simply took Rosie's label by mistake and she wound up with that 2:56:29 clocking even though she'd spent most of the time riding underground, not running on the ground.

"People around her office must have been congratulating her for weeks." Welch said, "and she probably liked it, so she figured she'd do it again at Boston. She was 23rd in New York and maybe she wanted to be fifth or sixth in Boston.

"But being so ignorant of running -- she just doesn't have the skin tone or the muscle tone of a runner -- she didn't know what a good time would be and she jumped into the race too soon. She came flopping in like a wounded duck. You could see she wasn't a runner."

What you ought to do, Rosie, if you can smile about all this, is put on your own marathon for Buchanan's $100,000 and Fraser's $10,000. The winner's trophy should be a subway token.