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November 2, 2012

Joan Benoit Samuelson George Hirsch Kenny Moore


RICHARD FINN:  We felt something that was missing in our sport, in the history of our sport, was to be able to honor and recognize the journalists and writers in the broadcasters who have done so much in popularizing and bringing to life what goes on here and what goes on in Boston, what goes on in London and what goes on across the country.
We have a very special guest up here to make a few remarks, one of our favorites here in New York, a favorite everywhere she goes, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and last but certainly not least, the man of the honor, the man of the hour right now, Kenny Moore, who flew in last night, made the trip, and we thank Kenny.  I'm going to turn it over to George.  If you want to stand here and say a few words.
GEORGE HIRSCH:  Good morning.  As we all know, we're going to hold this event on Sunday as this badly‑damaged and devastated city starts to get back up on its feet, and we hope this race will be part of that road to recovery.
We recognize it's going to be long, difficult.  Many people are suffering, particularly Staten Island and parts of Queens, and we don't take this race lightly.  We've thought long and hard about how to put on an event that will show New Yorkers and the world that we are resilient, that we're going to come back.  We have a full understanding, I do, of the voices out there that have spoken to us and said that this event should be canceled or put off or postponed.  We see both sides of that.  But we also come down very clearly on the side that there is something intangible here.  There's something that can lift the spirit of this city as New Yorkers see that what we all know is the greatest day in the life of a city, the New York City Marathon, is going to go on, and we just hope it will lift the city.  We know it will economically.  We know we bring in more than $300 million to the city, $35 million goes to our charity partners.  So we've had to consider so many different elements here.
But we're here today to honor someone, and we're extremely fortunate to have our most celebrated runner, former world champion, of course the winner of the 1984 first Olympic Marathon for women, how wonderful that Joanie could come and help us honor a dear friend of ours.  Joanie, come on up, Joan Benoit Samuelson.
JOAN BENOIT SAMUELSON:  Thank you, George.  I just want to say how honored I am to be here with two gentlemen who have meant so much to the success of my running.  When you talk about marathoning, you immediately think about the triumph of the human spirit, and these two gentlemen have personified that throughout many decades.  When I think of what this city and this surrounding environs are enduring now, I think about the true history of the marathon, and I think George is right in saying that somehow there's an intangible there that's going to ignite the fire, that's going to bring hope and light to the lives of so many people who have been devastated with huge losses.
So having said that, we are triumphant.  The city will be triumphant.  Our sport will be triumphant.  And I think people will win on every level when everything is said and done.
George, I'm honored to help in presenting the award that was named in your honor.  I remember my first marathoning steps with you in the Boston Marathon in 1979 and how we ran side by side for many miles.  I hardly knew you at the time, but boy, has life changed as a result of the friendship that was kindled there way back when.
Kenny, I don't know where to begin with you.  I think you are just such a wonderful recipient of the George Hirsch Award.  Aloha and mahalo for all that you have brought to our sport through your writings and your passion for the sport.  I don't think there's another writer out there who writes with the passion and the love and the knowledge that you possess.  It's a true gift, and you have shared that gift with countless people in and out of our sport and throughout the generations.  You really are a folk hero, and I just value the shared experiences that Scott and I and our children Abby and Anders have had with you and Connor.  I just want to say may your story never end and may I never find that finish line and may we continue to share many more wonderful miles together.  Thank you so much, and congratulations.
KENNY MOORE:  Thank you, Joan, thank you, George, thank you to the New York Road Runners.  I'm obviously still working.  I've always still got the notebook.
When I first thought about what I'd say at a moment like this, I just felt over and over how ridiculously lucky I had been, and mentors, I had Gil Rogan as an editor at Sports Illustrated, had Robert Towne as a director in Hollywood, had Bill Bowerman as a coach at Oregon.  Just statistically there I've just proven that nobody has been as lucky in these beginnings and influences as I have.  So I was just kind of going to be sentimental and talk about influences and why I was ridiculously lucky in the beginning.  The second thing I ever wrote for Sports Illustrated was about Frank Shorter and me running the Fukuoka Marathon in '71.  For one thing, I found Frank Shorter had that wonderful, incredible voice, that great objectivity, even while he was running us all to pieces, and a great friend.  And so ever since then, that was vitally important to me, but the story itself, the marathon, the nature of the marathon is‑‑ it's nothing, anything that touches, except maybe some kind of war thing, that touches it for narrative force.  If you start a marathon and start telling the story of a marathon and what happened, all the characters in there and where they're beginning, you've got a million times to stop along the way or leave along the way and go to their backgrounds, go to their character.  So by the time that race is over, you're not just seeing faceless people on the TV screen, it's great friends and enemies, and you're just deeply involved.  And only the marathon gives you that force, that narrative force.
It's incredibly lucky for me that I happen to be a marathoner and needed to tell my own race.
I was lucky, too, because the marathon, this marathon, the New York Marathon, which I never came to because I lived in Eugene all these years, I come to it to run, I got eighth one year in '78, but I covered it so much, I was just thinking today the cracked streets outside reminded me of Alberto Salazar, what he had to face, both wins that he did here, especially the world record, just incredible battles with self and course, and leaving everything that you could possibly find in a marathon, it was here.
Also, because I've got this perspective even longer than Joanie, this marathon civilized New York City.  In '76 when they first ran all the boroughs, there were runners in the rest of the town, if the cops saw you running, you were immediately suspect.  But the race itself over the years, it civilized the town to now where it's obviously celebrated but mainly understood, and the brotherhood grew and grew and grew, and the marathon itself was crucial to that.
I've been working here because I want to address the situation, and I think the way to do it is now.  Part of that being understood, all I can personally be is thankful, thankful again for my ability to be a part of the city's great healing this year, this year in particular.  But I can speak to specifically about how to go about that.
In 1972 in Munich after the terror, after we lost the Israeli athletes, Frank Shorter and Jack Bacheler and I had to run the marathon, and we had to find some way to assert by our performances that we were not going to be defeated by that terror, that we were going to transform it into something other than an attack on the great moral advance that was the Olympics.
We went through over three or four stages of grief and denial and resolve, but finally we came to will and Frank said it best, and before we went out there, he said, c'mon, this is as scared as I get, let's go run.  And he channelled his grief so well that he won that marathon.
We, the rest of us, ran very well, and we all made the top ten.
All I can leave you with is my certain knowledge that to run the New York Marathon this year amid all the suffering is to channel our grief again but to channel it 40,000 times over, and we'll all be stronger for it.  Thank you.

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