- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 7, 2006

The frustration is evident in Kenny Moore’s voice.

The two-time Olympic marathoner and Hall of Fame running writer has spent the better of the last three years researching and writing a book about his revered college coach, the late Bill Bowerman.

The first 20,000 copies have been printed in time for the spring racing season, but he cannot sell a single one.

“The book is doing pretty well in the sense that people seem to like it,” said the man who parlayed an elite running career into a 25-year writing gig for Sports Illustrated. “But it’s not doing pretty well in the sense that people are not buying the book.”

The problem: There was a dispute over advertising rights between publisher Rodale Press and Nike chairman and former chief executive Phil Knight, who wrote the foreword for the 480-page book, over the advertising use of his name. The sides could not reach a resolution, according to the (Portland) Oregonian, and Knight’s foreword will be removed.

Since the first run came out earlier this year, the dispute has delayed its distribution. Amazon.com says “This title will be released on November 28, 2006. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives.”

The early feedback on “Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon’s Legendary Coach and Nike’s Co-founder” has been good. But the dispute has Moore as hamstrung as he was in the final miles of the 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich, when a cramp in his leg cost him the bronze medal.

Now, Moore, who was in Washington last week as the official starter for the ACLI Capital Challenge 3-mile footrace, must wait as he misses opportunities like the Boston Marathon and other major spring races to sell his book.

Bowerman was the co-founder, along with Knight, of Nike Inc. He also was the coach at the University of Oregon, where he shaped 24 NCAA individual champions, won four national team titles, and coached the U.S. track and field team in the 1972 Olympic Games where Moore competed.

He put the college town of Eugene on the map as the running capital of the world.

As many people know, Bowerman, who died in 1999, created the first lightweight outsole shoe from some latex, leather, glue and his wife’s waffle iron. He and his former athlete Knight each shelled out $500 to produce 330 pairs of shoes and Nike became a success.

His impact on American life is indisputable. People today are pursuing active lifestyles in part because of Bowerman’s belief in making fitness available to everybody.

His impact on the running community also is indisputable. He molded some of our greatest distance stars — including Steve Prefontaine and Alberto Salazar — who even today are seen as inspirations for our modern-day elite athletes as well as the masses who follow them.

But Bowerman may not have touched any athlete as deeply as he did an unheralded kid who came to Oregon from nearby North Eugene High School. That runner, like Bowerman, has inspired more than a generation of runners.

What better person to pen Bowerman’s biography than Kenny Moore, one of his star pupils.

“I didn’t win the Olympic marathons so I don’t have that moment of triumph,” Moore, who won the inaugural Marine Corps Marathon in 1976, said last week. “But when you consider that I was a kid who never won a high school race and was a walk-on at Oregon, I think I did well. I have no regrets.”

Moore certainly came close to Olympic stardom. After graduation, he placed 14th at the 1968 Olympic marathon in Mexico City and in 1969 he broke the American record for the marathon with a time of 2:13:29, which he improved to 2:11:36 the next year when he was ranked No. 1 in the United States.

He finished fourth in the 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich. One man who beat him — Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia — become the focus of a 1995 Sports Illustrated piece Moore wrote after hearing that Wolde was falsely imprisoned in 1992. Moore helped get Wolde released 10 years later.

Moore, who co-authored the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, starred in the 1982 movie “Personal Best” and wrote and produced the movie “Without Limits” in 1998, said there may be a Wolde movie coming someday. If any typifies the life of the 62-year-old Moore, that would be it.

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