Toshihiko Seko doesn't speak much English. But his body language is just fine. He crossed the finish line of the 85th Boston Marathon with two motorcycle cops, two upraised arms and a crew cut that stood a little bit more at attention than usual.

Two years ago, the last time Seko lost a marathon, he lost to Bill Rodgers here at Heartbreak Hill. Today, he broke the course record Rodgers set in 1979 by a second, in 2:09.26, the fastest marathon ever run in America. Later, when the 24-year-old from Tokyo was asked where he took the lead, he replied through his interpreter: "At Bill Rodgers' store."

Actually, it was about a mile later, three miles from the end of the oldest 26-mile, 385-yard race in the country. Seko's coach, Kiyoshi Nakamura, looked at his watch, turned to Fred Lebow, the director of the New York Marathon, and said, "Now he goes."

"He just took off, boom, he powered out of there," said Craig Virgin, of Lebanon, Ill., who finished second, a minute after Seko in 2:10.26. Rodgers, who had won the last three Boston Marathons, was third in 2:10.34. As he made his way through the chute, the fans behind the barricades called to him. Rodgers shrugged as if to say, "Not bad for 33."

But it wasn't a very good day for the hometown. Patti Catalano of Boston, the prerace favorite, was an also-ran -- for the third straight time -- to Allison Roe, of Auckland, New Zealand. Roe is almost as unknown as Rosie Ruiz was last year, but she is the real thing. She finished 191st overall and set a women's course record in 2:26.46, just one minute and four seconds off Grete Waitz's world record. She's not sure when, but somewhere after she passed Catalano at the 23-mile mark, Roe heard someone in the crowd yell, "Come on, Rosie."

Catalano, who seemed on the verge of victory -- leading from 17 3/4 miles until 23 miles -- and on the verge of tears later, took two minutes and three seconds off her old American record, finishing in 2:27.51.

Laura DeWald of Arlington, Va., was eighth among the women in 2:35.57 and Johnny Kelley, the 73-year-old legend of Cape Cod, finished his 50th Boston Marathon in 4:01.25."It was the greatest reception I've ever had," Kelley said. "It made me cry . . . almost."

Kelley was one of about 6,400 official starters (there were other unofficial runners, like the one with a rear-view mirror). It was a cool and blustery day with low hanging clouds that presaged good times for the runners, if not for the picnickers who came clad in down.

Many had predicted a world record, in part because of the weather. Early on it seemed possible. Gary Fanelli, of Oreland, Pa., led for the first 16 miles, running close to or under world-record pace. Fanelli, who had as much as a 250-yard lead at times, said he was asked to run at world-record pace but refused to say by whom.

Greg Meyer, of Holliston, Mass., "busted it open" about the 16-mile mark, Rodgers said. At one point, Virgin turned to Rodgers, who was running in a pack of perhaps seven runners, and said, "Can we catch him?"

They, Seko and Virgin, did, between 18 and 19 miles. But Rodgers, who had developed a side ache around the 17-mile point, fell back as far as seventh place before coming on, as he always does, on the hills. "When I knew I couldn't win, I wanted to do what the Japanese do: run honorably," said Rodgers, who finished in under 2:12 for the first time since 1979.

Seko and Virgin ran side by side from about 18 miles to 23, as Japanese tourists waved flags at their hero, who had won the last three Fukuoka Marathons. "At least I knew the U.S. auto workers were with me," Virgin said.

Virgin is the world cross-country champion and was running only his third marathon. Seko left him behind at 23 with a move that Virgin said was "too sudden and too strong" to respond to. "At 22 there were two guys," Virgin said. "At 23 there was one."

Rodgers has said he never wanted to run against Seko in his prime. "Seko is in his prime," Rodgers said. "I hope I'm still in mine."

Seko, 24, primed himself on the hills of New Zealand this spring, making sure that Heartbreak Hill would not break his heart again. While he was there he set one of two world records he now holds in 30-kilometer runs.

Virgin, a track man, is undoubtedly coming into his prime as a marathoner as Alberto Salazar did last year in New York. Although Virgin said he felt like quitting 150 yards before the finish, he didn't. A track runner would never give a marathoner that satisfaction.

Roe took the lead from Catalano in almost the same place that Seko took it from Virgin. "She looked a little bit wobbly," said Roe, a 24-year-old secretary, running just her fifth marathon.

Catalano, who had never raced against Roe before, said, "She went by looking strong, running faster than I. Both of us were under 2:30. It was a helluva race. She outran me." Then she paused. "I'll keep trying," she said. "I'll do it one of these days." Men

1, Toshiheko Seko; Japan, 2:09:26; 2, Craig S. Virgin, Lebanon, Ill.,2:10:26; 3, Bill Rodgers, Stoneham, Mass., 2:10:34; 4, John Lodwick, Dallas, 2:11:33; 5, Malcolm A. East, Pittsburgh, 2:11:35; 6, Jukka Toivola, Finland, 2:11:52; 7, Dennis E. Rind, Orangedale, Calif., 2:12:01; 8, David J.l Chettle, Thornton Heath, England, 2:12:23; 9, Kyle Heffner, Boulder, Colo., 2:12:31: 10, Victor Mora-Garcia, Bogota, Colombia, 2:12:55; 11, Gregory A. Meyer; Holliston, Mass., 2:13:07; 12, Johnni Kortelainen, Finland, 2:13:14; 13, Norman C. Wilson, England, 2:13:16; 14, Walter W. Saeser, Jr., Dayton, Ohio, 2:13:30; 15, Randy Thomas, Wellesley, Mass., 2:13:48; 16, Louis Kenny, Johnson City, Tenn., 2:13:51; 17, Michael J. Pinocci, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., 2:14:09; 18, Ralph Serna, Anahelm, Calif., 2:14:16; 19, Dave Patterson, Norristown, Pa., 2:14:18; 20, Brian Maxwell, Berkeley, Calif., 2:14:57; 21, Hilario Alvarez, Mexico City, 2:15:05; 22, Robin A. Holland, McKees Rock, Pa. 2:15:07; 23, Neil Cusack, Ireland, 2:15:20; 24, Dave M. Smith, Rancho Cordova, Calif., 2:15:29; 25, Rafael A. Porro, Bogota, Columbia, 2:15:50.

26, D. Odis Sanders, Freeport, N.Y., 2:15:53; 27, Douglas T. Kurtis, Novi, Mich., 2:15:55; 28, Barney J. Klecker, Hopkins, Minn., 2:16:01; 29, Roland M. Davide, Coventry, R.I., 2:16:03; 30, Hon Paul, San Francisco, 2:16:04; 31, James F. Johnson, Dothell, Wash., 2:16:11; 32, John Vitale, Rocky Hill, Conn., 2:16:34; 33, Richard L. Bosaty, Pittsburgh, 2:16:35; 34, Stephen J. Podsainy, Pittsburgh, 2:16:45; 35, Rick L. Callison, Piqua, Ohio, 2:16:47; 36, Terry L. Baker, Hagerstown, Md., 2:16:49; 37, Juan Zetina, Denton, Tex., 2:16:59; 38, Peter L. McNeill, Lake Grove, N.Y., 2:17:15; 39, Jean Ellis, Lasuna Niseul, Calif., 2:17:23; 40, George E. Mason, Santa Ana, Calif., 41, Craig Hepburn, Cambridge, Mass.; 42, Michael C. Petrocci, Montreal, 2:17:34; 43; Robert A. Clifford, Newton, Mass., 2:17:39; 44, Alfredo Maravilla, Barrio, Argentina, 2:17:48; 45, Henry C. Barksdale, Jr., Washington, D.C., 46, Anthony T. Rodiez, Milwaukee, 2:18:07; 47, Mark Bossardet, Huntington Station, N.Y., 2:18:31; 48, John K. Roscoe, Terre Haute, Ind., 2:18:34; 49, Rune L. Larsson, San Diego, 2:18:38; 50, Masao Matsuo, Japan, 2:18:45 Women

1, Allison Roe, New Zealand, 2:26:46; 2, Patti M. Catalano, Boston, 2:27:51; 3, Joan Benoit, Exeter, N.H., 2:30:16; 4, Julie Shea, Raleigh, N.C., 2:30:54; 5, Jacqueline Gareau, Canada, 2:31:26; 6, Sisel Sofie Grottenberg, Norway, 2:33:02; 7, Nancy A. Conz, Easthampton, Mass. 2:34:48; 8, Laura L. DeWald, Arlington, 2:35:57; 9, Kiki Sweisart, Darien, Conn., 2:36.55; 10, Lorrie J. Dierdorff, San Diego, Calif., 2:38.03; 11, Jane C. Wips, Logan, Utah, 2:38.27; 12, Laurie Binder, San Diego, Calif., 2:39.35; 13, Nanae Sasaki, Japan, 2:40.56; 14, Janice K. Horns, Edina, Minn., 2:40.57; 15, Rosemary Anne Longstaff, Australia, 2:43.03; 16, Carol L. Cook, St. Louis, Mo., 2:43.08; 17, Shirley Akiko Slisby, Tallahassee, Fla., 2:44.59; 18, Kitty A. Consolo, Kent, Ohio, 2:45.38; 19, Marilyn A. Hulak, Brooklyn, N.Y., 2:45.57; 20, Julie Isphordins, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2:46.40; 21, Jean T. Kerr, Pleasantville, N.Y., 2:47.07; 22, Jane M. Weizel, Plaistow, N.H., 2:48.26; 23, Fordie S. Madeira, Sherborn, Mass., 2:48.56; 24, Sharon L. Given, Northport, N.Y., 2:49.15; 25, Susan L. Kainulainen, Canada, 2:49.25. Other Area Finishers

56, Lou Patterson, Arlington, 2:19.18; 117, Kenneth Coddington, Blacksburg, Va., 2:23.30; 135, David Rinehart, Cumberland, Md.; 2:24.46; 141, Robert Hirst, Washington, 2:24.54; 159, Jeryl Turner, Harrisonburg, Va., 2:25.49; 174, Dean Greer, Lexington, Va., 2:26.18; 180, James O'Keefe, Lutherville, Md., 2:26.25; 211, William Webster, Charlottesville, 2:27.22; 215, Harry Goodman, Baltimore, 2:27.28; 225, John Kavanagh, Baltimore, 2:27.44; 240, Brian Kay, Washington, 2:28.33; 262, Denis Baumstark, Hermann, Md., 2:29.06; 291, David Dickinson, Washington, 2:29.48; 298, Jonathan Lott, Springfield, 2:30.02; 307, Mike Sabino, Baltimore, 2:30.19; 310, Richard Jamborsky, Reston, 2:30.26; 326, Philip Stewart, Alexandria, 2:30.50; 367, Chris Pierson, Annapolis, 2:32.04; 394, Jerry Harrington, Washington, 2:32.53; 401, James Bickley, Washington, 2:33.05; 413, John McAuliffe, Baltimore, 2:33.09; 426, Robert Jenkins, Salem, Va., 2:33.28; 441, Michael Van Beuren, Annapolis, 2:33.54; 441, Peter Lortie, Washington, 2:33.54; 469, Larry Pederson, Newport News, Va., 2:34.25; 490, Paul Brand, Frostburg, Md., 2:35.00.

536, Alfred Lampazzi, Manassas, Va., 2:35.37; 544, Warren Ohlrich, Columbia, Md., 2:35.41; 551, James Bassett, Charlottesville, 2:35.49; 559, Fay Bradley, Washington, 2:35.59; 572, Michael Mahoney, Charlottesville, 2:36.10; 576, Robert McCubbin, Arbutus, Md., 2:36.16; 591, Mitchell Hammonds, Virginia Beach, Va., 2:36.33; 594, Stephen Gunzenhauser, Annandale, 2:36.39; 613, Cliff Balkam, Bethesda, 2:36.54; 636, Joe Gilboy, Charlottesville, 2:37.20; 672, Edward Dehoney, Washington, 2:37.46; 674, Gregory Shank, Willimsport, Md., 2:37.47; 686, Anthony Tranfas, Glen Arm, Md., 2:37.57; 689, Michael Bartini, Lexington, Va., 2:37.58; 690, David Allen, Washington, 2:37.59; 701, Kevin Crain, Washington, 2:38.11; 732, Mark Mondo, Burke, Va., 2:38.26; 767, Joseph Herget, Baltimore, 2:38.48.