Moscow — In shorts and a T-shirt, the small figure jogged peacefully toward the overlook high above Moscow at Lenin Hills, on his way back from the olympic Village to his hotel.
A man with a niche in sports history, winner of a gold medal for the 3,000 -meter steeplechase in 1956, perhaps best known for helping Dr. Roger Bannister crack the four-minute mile in 1954 -- he had jogged this way at 13 Olympics, eight summer and five winter.
But Christopher Brasher, author, former sports editor of the London Observer, and now the Observer's Olympic correspondent, had never run into anything like Lenin Hills.
What happened to him, what he did about it, and what followed illustrate some of the difficulties encountered by Westerners here during the games and the tight security surrounding them.
"Stop, stop," shouted a policeman in full parade uniform. Brasher, a Briton with a mind of his own who speaks no Russian, jogged on. Suddenly a policeman behind him had seized him in a full-nelson wrestling lock and was forcing his head forward and down.
Eventually he persuaded the man to let him go and convinced police he was not a dangerous terrorist intent on using the overlook to lob bombs down onto Lenin Stadium.
The next day he went to see the urbane chief of Olympic press services, Vladimir Popov, who is also deputy head of the Soviet organizing committee for the games.
Mr. Popov soothed him, said there had been a misunderstanding, and gave him a letter, signed by Popov himself, that would, he said, clear the way.
The very next day, in the same area, he was stopped again, forcibly, and held for almost half a hour by two police captains and a major. He produced the Popov letter. "It had no effect whatsoever," Brasher told me later.
"I've run between Olympic sites at every games for years and no one has ever stopped me or paid any attention. But in Moscow, I can't."
Brasher went to see Popov again. Again he was assured he was allowed to run between the sites instead of taking the buses provided.
Finally, he raised the problem at one of the daily press briefings held by Mr. Popov at the Olympic press center. "Why is it not possible to walk or run along the Lenin Hills road?" he asked. "What are you frightened of?"
Mr. Popov replied he was frightened of nothing. "I have tried to help in this case," he went on, "but I cannot explain to every captain and major in the police that jogging between sites is a normal Olympic activity . . . . There must have been some misunderstanding and I am prepared to apologize."
Later, Brasher told me he felt the security was over-tight. "What can I be concealing in a T-shirt and shorts?" he asked. "I have run in other part of Moscow -- on the tract the marathon runners will use, beside the river, and elsewhere, and I had no trouble. But on Lenin Hills. . . .
"Well, they need to stop people getting up there and shooting a rifle at Lenin Stadium across the river, I suppose, but jogging seems harmless enough."
Brasher is a man who does not always conform to the conventional, and such men are always difficult for the inflexible Soviet bureaucracy. transport between sites is by bus or car. Security on Lenin Hills is tight. combine that will Brasher independence, and controversy follows.
Other Westerners say they have jogged elsewhere in Moscow, without incident. "I wouldn't try to jog in Red Square or near the Kremlin," says one, "but down by the river and on city streets I've had no trouble."
Brasher is struck by the absence of Soviet joggers. "I see joggers out in cities the world over," he says, "but the . . . not a soul. four Dutchmen, that's all I've seen."
In fact, some Soviet men do jog in city parks, but so many police and Army troops are standing around these Olympic days that they may have decided to wait until after the games.