top left: Seb Coe on SI cover, Jeff Benjamin, Seb Coe about 1992, Jeff and Seb Coe, 2016, Seb Coe note, from the Jeff Benjamin archives
The series that Jeff Benjamin did in honor of the late Kenny Moore would not have been complete without this recollection by Seb Coe.
The likes of Jack Bacheler, Craig Virgin, Ron Tabb, Pat Tyson, Frank Shorter, and Seb Coe add to the patina of the picture that we have of Kenny Moore, Olympian, journalist, Oregonian. Kenny Moore gave us insights into his subjects that we did not have before. For Jeff and myself, our dreams were to write one piece as thoughtful as Kenny Moore.
Thanks to Seb Coe for this recollection. And thanks to Jeff Benjamin, our senior editor, and mayor of Staten Island, for his love and devotion to the sport.
Remembering Kenny Moore – 6th In A Series With Sebastian Coe
“Me And You And A Dog Named Cleo?!”
(With apologies to Lobo)
By Jeff Benjamin
At the end of the 1979 outdoor track season, Sebastian Coe was on top of the Sports world.
Setting world records over the 800, 1500, and the Mile in 41 days, the British middle-distance star was at the pinnacle, but a little tightness in his calf ended his season a tad earlier than perhaps he and his Dad/Coach Peter had planned. Coe had also watched his compatriot Steve Ovett snatch away the Mile World Record.
Now, in September, it was time for the new multi-world record holder to visit Eugene, Oregon, for a sojourn in the land of the Swoosh.
“I was always intrigued with visiting the area with its traditions and I was also going to sign a Nike contract,” recalled the World Athletics President of the days when Amateurism was finally beginning to be unshackled from the Athletes.
And who better to show Coe around Oregon than Kenny Moore?
“Kenny’s writing was truly blissful,” said Coe of Moore, who was also profiling his visit for an upcoming Sports Illustrated piece.
“It was never too ornate,” continued Coe. “Kenny understood the crucial elements of the human condition and it’s vulnerabilities and he never belittled.”
Coe also believes Moore’s running career at the highest levels, including two Olympic Marathon races in 1968 and 1972, gave him a perception few Track writers possessed.
“Kenny understood things such as what a changing room felt like, with its smells as well as tensions leading up to a race…he understood when an athlete underperformed and how that might have happened better than others,” said Coe, also noting Moore’s intuitiveness into the highs and lows of what Coe once called “The Purgatory of Training.”
“Kenny also knew better than others how winning or setting a World Record combined with all elements coming together truly meant as far as an accomplishment.”
Along with meeting the legendary coach Bill Bowerman – who discussed training methods with Coe and also helped adjust his hips to alleviate the calf strain- Moore took Coe on a run through the McKenzie River Trail where imminent disaster would occur, at least in the reaction of Moore but not of Coe!
“During the run, I rolled my ankle and it kind of blew up,” said Coe.
“Kenny was mortified…and the Nike people were all very nervous and they were panicking thinking that their 1980 Olympic dreams had gone up in smoke.”
“Yet I was calm about it,” joked Coe over four decades later, noting that his 1979 racing season was over and he had plenty of time to heal.
“Getting to know Kenny was a real pleasure,” said Coe, who then explained to Moore that if he wished to get the whole Coe story he’d have to trek across the pond to experience it.
“I invited Kenny to come to over to Sheffield,” said Coe.
“He wanted to know when and I told him to come around the house during Christmas.”
Fast-forward a few months later to around Christmas at the Coe family home, where the family – Seb’s sisters, brother, mother, father, and grandmother were all together.
“There was a knock at the door,” recalled Coe in astonishment, “and there was Kenny at the door with a suitcase and totally unannounced!”
“My mother told him to come right in, offered him something to drink then asked him where he was staying.”
When told by Moore he would be looking for a hotel, Angela Coe would have none of it.
“No, no,” she said, according to Seb of his mother, who invited Moore to stay there.
Those who remember Seb and his Father/Coach Peter may be a bit surprised by the hospitality granted to an unannounced visitor, given the Coe’s guardedness, especially with many members of the press.
“But Kenny was a kindred spirit to my Dad and me,” said Seb, who also talked about his mother as well.
“My mother was a London actress who really knew how to size up people and Kenny was ok.”
“Kenny also was always attracted to “Mavericks”, continued Seb, “and he and my Dad got along great.”
Moore joined the Coes in various travels as well including a visit to York, running in the Hallamshire Harriers club race 7- Miler (Coe won in 34 minutes and Moore finished 3rd on a cold day, leading to Peter’s needling of the writer racing in the elements!). Peter Coe even relished it more a few days later as Moore fell off from Seb during a 14 miler up the Derwent Valley, all in good fun.
Moore also wrote how Coe’s efficient form reminded him of his friend Frank Shorter’s gait.
“During Kenny’s visit, everyone got along with him very well,” said Coe of his grandmother Violet along with his sisters Emma and Miranda. “It was very funny to see him with my grandmother together.”
But it was what happened next that truly defined the journey.
“My sisters were very taken by Kenny,” said Coe. “He was very urbane and smooth.
AND a man of his word it seems!
“Kenny asked them what they wanted for Christmas and they said they wanted a dog jokingly!,” said Coe.
A few days later Moore procured for them a sheepskin dog with a pink ribbon!
The reaction in the house was full of mixed emotions, to say the least.
“My father was not as calm
as my mother was,” said Coe, who eventually saw the dog join the family.
“We named the dog Cleo,” said Coe. “Cleo lived on until the early 1990s and was an eyewitness to my career!”
“I will always remember those days with Kenny and all of us…they were truly special.”
For the complete 1979, Kenny Moore profile on Sebastian Coe in published Sports Illustrated go to
To see/hear Lobo sing their top-list song go to