Run and take the money.
The Athletics Congress has won its breathlessly anticipated approval from the International Amateur Athletics Federation to institute an experimental Grand Prix road running circuit in the United States that would provide cash prizes. For now the money would go strictly to clubs -- but clubs do consist of people.
Ollan Cassell, executive director of TAC, governing body of U.S. track and field, said the wheres, whens and how muches of the 12-month trial won't be disclosed until next week, following a meeting of the Association of Road Racing Athletes in Chicago. But he forecast a "great effect on amateur sports."
And while Cassell, so long associated with TAC's predecessor, AAU, stressed that the purses for the Grand Prix races -- ranging from 5,000 meters on up to marathons -- would go only to clubs, Fred Lebow of the New York Road Runners Club assessed the development as "a terribly significant step . . . one step away from overruling Rule 53 of the IAAF, against the athletes accepting money. I think you will shortly see the athletes accepting money . . . Long-distance running will no longer be a step-child to other sports."
Lebow's New York City Marathon has been offered $250,000 in prize money by Jordache Enterprises, which if directed to the clubs would maintain competing runners' amateur standing. That is not the case with the Atlantic City marathon coming up Sunday, with a $50,000 purse from the same sponsor; that event has not been sanctioned by IAAF or TAC.