For a quarter century, journalist Kenny Moore has made the sport of long-distance running and its colorful practitioners come alive on the pages of Sports Illustrated, between the covers of critically acclaimed books, and even on the large screen. A two-time Olympian in the marathon, Moore felt the sport’s highs, lows, dreams, and dramas; the owner of a degree in creative writing, he knew how to make the reader feel them, as well.
In honor of his contribution to the sport, Moore has been named the 2012 recipient of the George Hirsch Journalism Award, presented by New York Road Runners, it was announced today by NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.
The award recognizes excellence in reporting, writing, and broadcasting of the sport of long-distance running. It is named for George Hirsch, the founding publisher and president of The Runner magazine from 1978 to 1986, the worldwide publisher of Runner’s World from 1987 to 2003, and today the chairman of the board of directors of New York Road Runners.
“Knowing what George Hirsch has done to serve our sport, this award has made me humble almost, but not quite, beyond words,” said Moore. “It’s hugely gratifying to know my writing has struck readers as useful. In fact, it’s been nothing but a privilege and joy to be able to follow champions from Abdi Bile to Joan Samuelson home from their triumphs, and make known the vividness of their character. Looking back, I realize each one has left me the better, the more faithful, the more exuberant in pursuing all things good and Olympian.”
Moore, 68, began his journalism career at Sports Illustrated while completing his Masters degree in creative writing at the University of Oregon. His widely respected journalism career is matched by his running record: Moore finished 14th in the 1968 Olympic Games marathon in Mexico City and fourth in the 1972 Munich Games, and is a former holder of the American Record at the distance. He was also the 1967 National AAU cross country champion, the 1971 National AAU marathon champion, and a six-time winner of San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers 12K road race.
He began his journalism career in 1971 as a contract writer for Sports Illustrated, and was promoted to senior writer in 1980. Among Moore’s many memorable stories is “The End of the World,” about his quest for justice in the case of Ethiopian Mamo Wolde, the 1968 Olympic marathon gold medalist—against whom Moore had dueled for the Olympic bronze medal in 1972—who was at the time a political prisoner.
After leaving SI, Moore co-wrote and produced Without Limits, the biographical film about Steve Prefontaine, and a few years later began working on Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, the first biography of Bill Bowerman, the legendary coach at the University of Oregon and a co-founder of Nike, Inc. The book was published in 2007.
Moore, who lives in Eugene, OR, has previously been inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame and has been a recipient of the George Sheehan Award.
“Kenny Moore has devoted his career to showing the world what the most influential competitors and coaches of all time have done for the sport of running,” Wittenberg said. “His meaningful achievements not only reflect the special spirit of a distance runner, but also that of George Hirsch. We are honored to present him with this award for his countless contributions to our sport.”
Designed by Tiffany & Co., an official sponsor of the ING New York City Marathon, the award will be presented to Moore at a news conference on Friday, November 2, during ING New York City Marathon race week. The previous recipients were Dick Patrick, the longtime track and field journalist who was the inaugual honoree in 2010, and Amby Burfoot, editor-at-large of Runner's World and author of The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life," in 2011.
Photo by Constance Johnston