As staunch guardians of a simon-pure event, organizers of the Boston Marathon were understandably upset by a recent report that the race was ''for sale.''
In rebutting the offending newspaper story, race director Will Cloney denied the race is selling out to commercial interests, relinquishing administrative control, or lowering its strictly amateur standards. In practically the same breath, however, he announced the marathon had lined up several sponsors for this year's 86th race, including Seiko, Dodge, and Bristol Myers.
The Boston Athletic Association has long resisted overtures from potential sponsors, according to Cloney. ''But it's no longer realistic to run a race of this magnitude (6,800 official entrants last year) without sponsors,'' he stated , adding that the BAA would be extremely selective.
What the Boston Marathon is attempting to do, said Cloney, is ''to stay a year ahead of time.'' By lining up sponsors now, the race will have some financial backstops if the top runners begin demanding prize money. In the meantime, BAA officials will relax their own policies slightly by paying expense money to certain top runners. But Cloney has vowed that there will be no appearance fees or under-the-table payments.