Originally posted on May 13, 2022
Reposted on July 19, 2022, and renumbered because I could.
This is the eighth piece in the series by Jeff Benjamin on Remembering Kenny Moore. This piece by Frank Shorter, the teammate of the late Kenny Moore on the 1972 Olympic team.
Remembering Kenny Moore (Integrity, Humility, and Generosity) – 8th In A Series- From Frank Shorter
By Jeff Benjamin
Without a doubt, the word “IF” is the biggest word in history on any level.
What IF a rising runner named Frank Shorter had never met Kenny Moore?
Thankfully, for millions of runners around the globe, they did.
Here are some reminiscences from the 1972 Olympic Marathon Champion.
“I first met Kenny Moore at the 1969 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Miami, Florida, during the 10,000-meter championship race. He blew by me on the final straightaway and finished third. We shook hands, changed out of our spikes, and started jogging together to cool down. When we had finished, he turned to me and said, “that was a relief,” and then explained that because he was the second American to cross the line and two athletes per event made up the United States team that would tour Europe later that Summer, he was guaranteed a spot. He went on to add that he was an enlisted member of the US ARMY Track and Field Team, his stateside tour of duty was expiring, and he was on the shortlist for transfer to Viet Nam. His qualifying for the US team would take him off the shortlist. His decision to keep the importance of the race to himself and not say anything to me beforehand struck me.
Here was a man with integrity who had his own goals and standards. My response was, “Why didn’t you tell me?”.
Of course, Kenny would have never done anything like that. His integrity was obvious right from that first encounter and onward. As life would have it, I was also put on that touring team because Jack Bachelor, who had won the race, had to stay home to finish up his Ph.D. in entomology.
Kenny and I became roommates for the Summer and friends from then on. At the end of the tour, he lapped me while winning a 10,000-meter race at a duel meet with Great Britain. We jogged down, and he never talked about the race. Humble man. I think it was there that we began to bond. Three years later, Jack, Kenny, and I finished 9th, 4th, and 1st in the 1972 Olympic Marathon in Munich, Germany.
It was Kenny who gently persuaded me to run my first marathon at the Pan American Games Trials held in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon, in May of 1971. We ran together until just beyond 22 of the 26 miles. He then sped up and left me behind. We finished first and second. Later that Summer, at the Games in Cali, Colombia, we roomed, not in the athletes’ village, but in a house rented by Sports Illustrated.
Kenny was already writing for the magazine at the same time he was competing in international events. He allowed me to tag along and share in this benefit.
“In early July of 1972, we ran together in the Olympic Trials marathon, once again in Eugene. I don’t think we ever discussed tying. We just found ourselves running side by side slightly in front of the pack, looked at each other, accelerated a bit to lengthen our lead, and shared the effort to the finish line and tied for first place. We just knew the primary objective was to help each other make the Olympic team.
At the finish line in Munich, I waited for Kenny. Naturally, the first thing he said to me was, “How’d you do?” I told him, “I won it”. We then smiled together and walked for a while arming in arm, knowing we had both given it our all.
Kenny loved to tell about his encounter with fellow Oregon Duck Steve Prefontaine a few minutes later in the stadium stands. Earlier that afternoon, Steve had finished 4th in the Olympic 5,000 meter final. Before he could say anything, Steve immediately congratulated Kenny on his fourth-place finish and proceeded to offer an enthusiastic diatribe of reasons why Kenny should be proud of his showing that day. Starting with “you were the fourth-best in the entire world today” and taking off from there. Not knowing Steve’s result, during a pause, Kenny asked, “how did you do”. The indignant reply was, “f***ing fourth.”
Kenny went home knowing he was in transition. Fortunately, he had his writing and his willingness to evolve. Between 1972 and 1976, he eased into retirement from running, continuing to run and write because he loved both.
So many years later, we are mourning Kenny’s passing. His wife Connie came into his life as he was transitioning from track star and well-known author to the rest of his life. She was the perfect match: gentle, understated, and creative as his health problems mounted. His running was slowing down, but his writing was not waning. “Bowerman And The Men of Oregon,” published in 2006, was emotional, erudite, and analytical, and Connie worked side by side with him to ensure his ongoing productivity both then and from that point on.
In the end, Kenny was the same person I had first met on that Miami track 53 years ago. He never wavered in his beliefs, standards, and willingness to sacrifice income and fame to work for what he felt was right.
We are all blessed that he could live and express himself to us in his own unique way.
Integrity, Humility, Generosity.”
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