Will Cloney, the courtly race director of the Boston marathon, says he has been taking Valium for three weeks now. It started just about the time the city of Newton decided that it would not issue a race permit to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) unless additional authorities were brought in to provide crowd control.
Cloney told them, "Heartbreak Hill is the most famous stretch of highway in the country, and you're gonna stop the marathon?"
On Tuesday, Massachusetts Gov. Edward L. King stepped in and promised the race would go on.
The next day, the Boston City Council, chafing at budget cuts that have laid off 200 of Boston's finest, passed a resolution instructing Mayor Kevin White to tell King that no city police could be used during the race. Later that afternoon, the police, who are usually out in force for the marathon, announced that they would stage a "public safety protest" to dramatize the layoffs on Beacon Street, at Cleveland Circle, 20 miles into the race, just about the time the leaders should be passing through.
For a year now, people have been talking about how to police the Boston Marathon, how to protect it from Rosie Ruiz. But this is no joke.
About 7,000 runners, not including Ruiz, are expected at the starting line of the 85th Boston Marathon at noon Monday. No one knows what else to expect.
Sonny Reizner, the director of the Castaways Sport Book in Las Vegas, has made Bill Rodgers, who has won the last three Boston marathons, and Toshihiko Seko, who has won the last three Fukuoka Marathons, cofavorites at 3 to 1. But Rodgers, who is still recovering from the flu said, "I'd only put a dollar on me, maybe."
On the other hand, he said, "Seko may not run. I heard he came to Boston to set a world record and won't run unless it is under 68 degrees."
In the women's division, Reizner has made Patti Lyons-Catalano, last year's runner-up, the favorite at 2 to 1. He is giving no odds on Ruiz's finish.
Cloney says the odds of someone's cheating and winning, as Ruiz did a year ago, are minute. "Rosie will never happen again," Cloney said. "I seldom use the word 'never,' but I'm using it now. It will happen again with 89th place or 179th place but it won't happen again in first place."
"Rosie was a freak," Cloney said, pausing. "I mean, the situation was a freak."
The Boston Marathon has reformed, but not too much. The BAA has told the officials who previously checked the first 100 men also to check the first 10 women. "In addition," Cloney said, "women officials will check the first 25 women finishers."
The marathon has also added four checkpoints -- at five, 10, 15 and 20 miles -- along the 26-mile 385-yard route. In days gone by, the Baa had six checkpoints at irregular places along the route, The BAA also changed the color of the women's numbers, so they would be more readily distinguishable from the men.
There were more radical suggestions: each runner would start the race with a set of tags and take one off at checkpoint. Another person suggested that each runner should have his hand stamped and have to stick it under a ultraviolet light at each checkpoint just like they do at discos. "That's not running a sporting event," Cloney said. "That's a nut-cake deal."
He added: "We have done a few electronic things, but 'd rather not tell you what they are. If we say we have them, and none of the runners know what they are, they'll all be a little more careful."
Perhaps, it was suggested, he was striving for a placebo effect? "It could be," Cloney said. "But it sounds good."
Cloney, a gentleman, handled last year's embarassment with the utmost grace. He issued Ruiz an invitation to compete this year, but she never "RSVPed." Although she has not registered, Cloney said if Ruiz shows up she can run.
Ruiz has not run a race since she "ran" Boston. She told an interviewer two weeks ago that she had developed tendinitis and was not running any more marathons on the advice of her doctor.
Ruiz, who literally came out of the blue last year in Boston, has for the most part disappeared back into it; at times this winter pulling the hood of her blue ski jacket tightly around her head like a kindergartner to disguise herself. She has given one interview, endorsed no products, written no books. Last December she was spotted at a women's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden and gave a few autographs to runners. One said, "If I don't see you in Boston, keep up the good work."
Ruiz has never wavered from her story that she ran the entire race, and she has never given back the medal that was presented to her before officials discovered the error of her ways.
Jock Semple, Cloney's alter ego, said, "She embarrassed the BAA. The officials, they're diplomatic. I'm not. I said she was a liar, a cheat, a fraud and a thief. A lawyer said he was going to take me to court. We asked her to give back the medal and she didn't. That justified me calling her a thief."
Semple said the only thing he was learned from Ruiz is that "women are 99 and 44-hundredths percent pure like Ivory Soap," instead of 100 percent.
"I don't know that every race I go to now, there's one or two imposters -- much more than three or four years ago," said Rodgers. "I was in a race in Mobile where a guy cheated, then he went home and called the race director and said he was sorry."
There are philosophers of the roads who believe that Ruiz signified a change in the nature of their sport that could have serious consequences when it goes professional. Don Kardong, the spokesman for the Association of Road Racing Athletes, said, "It might be a good thing. It alerted us to the possibilities.
Jeff Darman, the former president of the Road Runner's Club of America who is also a local race organizer, said, "Rosie publicized the fact that there are cheaters in a sport that used to be self-policing. Before the boom the never would have happened. Once running attracted large numbers of people, it attracted a cross section of American society: black and white, rich and poor, honest folks and cheaters. The change has come because of the boom, not because of Rosie Ruiz."