Kenny Moore, author of this week's story on the incomparable Finnish runner Lasse Viren (page 66), is, of course, a world-class distance man himself. In 1971 he contributed his first piece to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, an essay on crosscountry running. Since then we have published close to 50 of his articles, many dealing, naturally, with runners. Moore, 33, can scarcely be said to interview his subjects. He converses with them, he runs with them, he races against them. Last December, for example, he finished in a tie for fourth in a Honolulu marathon while doing a story on Duncan Macdonald, who won.
Moore's running was also the key to unlocking Viren, who is not notably gregarious. "I first went to Myrskyl√§, the little town where Viren lives," says Moore, "but Viren had a cold and was not doing much but taking care of the house. I didn't really get a feeling about him. But then while I was back in Helsinki he asked me to return to Myrskyl√§ for a run and a sauna."
During their 14-kilometer run, Moore found they were about equally fit. "He seemed to breathe about as hard as I, and we slipped on the slush and ice in the same fashion," Moore says. For a while, they ran in silence. "I don't feel it's necessary to chatter all the time," says Moore, "and I knew he didn't feel like it, either. When he started to bloom and talked about the countryside, it was fascinating. I could live there, I think."
Moore shares Viren's aversion to cities, but as a writer he is often forced to spend time in them. In Kingston, Jamaica, where he covered the International Track and Field Games last month, he trained with half-miler Mike Boit on the track and, despite 90° heat, ran in the surrounding hills. In Los Angeles for the AAU track and field championships, he ran around the UCLA campus and joined his subjects in their warm-ups. He had been invited to compete in the 10,000, but it was the last race of the meet and he had to write his story immediately afterward. To get in shape for that, he did 20 330-yard sprints the day before. "It made my hamstrings so sore," he says, "that there was no temptation to compete."
June 26, 1977
"When I'm on an assignment," Moore says, "I go slow on the running and concentrate on the writing. I'll go for an easy jog and let things settle in my mind; I put them in perspective, so I won't get panicky when I sit at the typewriter. When I get home to Eugene I train really hard. I don't write much at home anymore. It's just the place where I train and do gardening. I jump back and forth between two different worlds."
Moore, who competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, was unable to try out for the Montreal Games because of a bout with pneumonia, but last November he was fit enough to win a marathon in Washington, D.C., and in February he came in second in a 10,000-meter road race in St. Louis. Now he is training for another 10,000-meter road race on July 4 in Atlanta, which Viren has also promised to enter. "If we are still both in the same shape we were in in April," says Moore, "we'll have a real kick race for 10th place."