To put things in mathematical terms, Toshihiko Seko and Rosa Mota multiplied their talents to a next higher power than any of their rivals in the 91st running of the Boston Marathon. But if these winners were the guideposts, a couple of miscalculations at the very start of the race were the earmarks. The event historically gets off without a hitch, but this time a pair of dangerous incidents reminded everyone of the need for caution and alertness.
The traditional noontime start from Hopkinton's town center was marked by confusion when the starter jumped the gun, firing his blank pistol before two officials, a policeman, and a restraining rope were out of the way.
The engulfed individuals somehow extracted themselves from the stampeding herd. Defending men's champion Rob de Castella of Australia avoided serious trouble, too, when, after tripping on the rope, he bounced up from the pavement and set sail for the front-runners.
``You have no choice,'' he said after finishing sixth, ``You either get trampled by about 10,000 runners or you try to get back with the leaders.''
In fact, there were about 6,000 in the Boston field, which is still an unwieldy number given anything but a flawless start. A 30-seconds-to-blastoff announcement, with no second-by-second countdown thereafter, is surely a procedure the Boston Athletic Association must rethink in the future.
In the wheelchair event, begun 15 minutes before the main race, six entrants were involved in a chaotic chain reaction of spills on the opening downhill section of the 26-mile, 385-yard course. No one was seriously injured, and in a testament to the determination of this group of competitors, two actually went on to finish first in their respective divisions.