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Soaking Up the Bennies

By Bennett H. Beach

"RRRRoyce Shaw will make twopence of Tupenny." Jimmy Fair, lecturer-philosopher-trainer, was leaning over the back of my seat from the seat behind me, rolling out "RRRRRoyce Shaw" 's and predictions as the bus rumbled through one of the less scenic parts of New York City last Friday. The freshman and varsity cross-country teams were on their way to the big dual meet of the season- with Penn and boy wonder Julio Piazza. Mr. Fair was impressed by his new little witticism, and he repeated it four or five times to make sure everyone heard and to see if eventually I'd write it down in my notebook.

We were cruising along, as only a bus can cruise, on West Side Drive or some other such road in the Bronx. but then traffic jammed and we spent most of the next half-hour sitting still with a good view of the Hudson River and the trash along the banks. Breath-taking. But the inside of the bus was really stale. Here we were sitting in the middle of traffic with foul air hanging all over the bus- and Mr. Fair had stopped talking. The thought of running a big race had to be the most disgusting idea to these guys. I was worried.

Ten minutes after our arrival, the bus full of Penn harriers pulled up and emptied. Coach Jim Tupenny clipboard in hand, strode out ready for an upset. Very confident-looking man as he stood there straight as could be, his head raised just right. He watched as his boys took up a jog and headed around the course. He smiled.

Before long. Crimson runners returned from their warmup and started doing exercises. I was really psyched. I ran around with my instamatic, snapping artsy-craftsy pictures of jocks as the big moment approached. After Penn returned to the starting area. I found out who Julio was and started taking shots of Tupenny and Julio, standing together in the field. "Colburn is going to psyche them out." It was Mr. Fair, looking Irish, looking vindictive. I think he was pretty mad that Penn all of a sudden thought it could give Harvard's cross-country team some trouble.

As expected, the race started. I had worn my sneakers for the occasion, and it's a good thing. Harvard coach Bill McCurdy likes to keep an eye on his team as it runs the race, so he runs from check point to check point to meet the runners and give vocal encouragement. I was going to be your basic on-the-spot reporter and get lots of valuable quotes, so I ran with him with my pad in one hand and instamatic in the other. He took me through prickers over rocks down cliffs. But it was worth it. I couldn't help thinking how much it must mean to keep hearing your coach telling you that you're doing well: keep it up. I was sweating like a pig, but I could still appreciate what he was doing.

I was totally wrapped up in the race. and it looked as if we were doing well. Julio baby was gliding along out of sight, but the rest was Harvard. With about three-quarters or half a mile to go. McCurdy turned to me and smiled. "Well, teamwise, its over." It was great, but what of Mr. Fair's predictions about Shaw? Then he started coming. Shaw had recently passed Stevens of Penn and was now closing on a group of three Quakers. He walked by two of them before the finish, and it seemed he had made twopence of Tupenny, although people like Colburn. Heyburn, Koerner, and Spengler probably should be credited with assists, since they finished second through fifth.

So the legend of the Harvard cross-country team. Mr. Fair, McCurdy, and freshman coach Pappy Hunt rolled on with Penn behind. They have an awful lot of fun, which may seem strange for a cross-country team. You'd probably expect them to be pain machines with that no-nonsense attitude. But they've come to realize how good they are, something I'm sure they've always suspected. They were winners in high school, and after just a short time here figured out that they were the closest thing to unbeatable around. You can't help but realize they're cocky after being around them awhile. Even Mr. Fair as trainer for the harriers, has adopted this top-of-the-world attitude. "Now I'd like to teach them pussyfootin' footballers how to run," he told me.

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