I persuaded them to let me reboard the aircraft and ran to my seat. My wallet was lying in the overhead compartment, having fallen through a hole in my self-destructing coat. I thanked God for weeks after getting out of that mess.
My ride to the base was my old friend from Fairchild, whom I hadn't seen in 2 1/2 years, BOB KOWOLCHUK (the dude in uniform below). He was waiting for me, anxiously, because I was his replacement. Since I was 30 minutes late, Bob left, and when I got outside the airport, dragging a ton of stuff, all I saw was a bunch of Turks (it was very scary) and no Bob. A line of pushy taxi drivers tried to get me to take a ride but I didn't have any Lira, only dollars.
On November 24th I ran another 5K, held the lead for the first two miles, and some guy wearing bright red shorts passed me. He was 30 seconds ahead and rounded a corner. As I rounded the same corner and reached a long, straight section, I didn't see him. I found it strange that I couldn't see him, considering he was perhaps only 160 yards in front, and dress in bright attire. His finishing time was 16:26, and mine was 18:44 (I was improving). Pretty humiliating for me I guess, and they printed this embarrassing article in the base paper complete with me giving an ugly finishing face of pain.
I pondered how strange it was that he'd taken so much time out of me in such a short distance. He was fast but not that fast. I calculated that he had to run a four-minute mile in the last mile of the race to amass such a lead. I told the guys at work that I thought perhaps he'd gone off the course by accident and taken a short cut...but I was careful not to look like a sore loser. Anyone at my level who could break a six-minute mile was incredible...my personal fastest for a 1.5 mile run was 6 minutes 56 seconds and that was only running a 4 minute 37 second mile. To run a mile in four minutes flat at my level was unthinkable. It was world-class.
Before Christmas I went to the base post office to mail gifts with co-workers, and the guy who won the race was in line. We spoke about racing, and in the middle of the conversation he said,"Hey, you know what? I cut the course in that race. I found out last week. They declared you the winner". YES! I was vilified! I never claimed the prize because Stephen was clearly ahead and pulling away, so he would've won anyway. But now, 11 years later, I think of that beautiful bright-yellow CTF Sports T-Shirt that I don't like to wear because along the bottom it says "Runner Up", translation: LOSER!