ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Steve Prefontaine

Updated on February 24, 2011

Tracks Coolest Runner

As my daughter and I strolled through Barnes and Noble a week ago we stopped to grab something hot to drink. After I obtained my Café Americano I was scanning the magazines and glimpsed a picture from the past. There on the cover of Runner’s World was one of my favorite all time runners, Steve Prefontaine. Now there was a throw back to my past having in my younger years being a track athlete. My Mom and I back in 1973 went to the LA Times Indoor Invitational and got to watch the man in action. Prefontaine, Pre as he was known to his fans and fellow athletes did not disappoint on that day as he won the mile in pure Prefontaine fashion. It will be a day I have not and will not forget.

Steve Prefontaine
Steve Prefontaine

Pre!

Steve Prefontaine was born January 25, 1951 in Coos Bay, Oregon. As a freshman in high school Pre started running with the cross country team and found some success. This would start him on the road to being one of the best middle to long distance runner of his time. Even today some of what he did as a runner has never been matched. His freshman year he ran a personal best of 5:01 in the mile, which in those day and at that age is pretty darn impressive. Pre’s sophomore year was fairly uneventful but managed to pull in a time of 4:31 running the indoor mile. By the time Pre graduated from high school he won every meet, including the state championship and set national track record in the two mile.

Following high school Pre enrolled at the University of Oregon and continued his running. His new coach and mentor was well known Coach Bill Bowerman who founded Nike. His freshman year he finished third in the NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championships. Pre was an aggressive runner and would lead the whole way. Pre was not one that liked to be back in the pack and did not like finishing in any other spot except first. He once said that he would make the 5000 meter “a guts race”, no backing down till you cross the finish line. It was about this time that fans could be heard chanting “Pre! Pre!” which became a staple at track meets. Fans wore t-shirts the read “Legend” while those that opposed him wore t-shirts that read “Stop Pre”. When Pre was nineteen years old he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In between his junior and senior year Pre had qualified for the 1972 Olympic Team and would compete in the 5000 meters which he held the American record. Pre did not fare well in this race and finished fourth after leading the race most of the way. The last 150 meters were a tough one with it being a toe to toe battle between four runners. Upon returning for his senior year Pre only had 3 defeats all coming in the mile. At this time Pre took on the battle with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) which said any athlete wanting to go to the Olympics had to remain “amateur”. This was the days before allowing athletes to have endorsements. While other countries were sending their best athletes and being paid to do it, our athletes struggled financially. Prefontaine was accepting freebies from Nike which he was subject to AAU’s ruling and could lose his amateur status.

The Olympics and The Death of a Great Athlete

After graduating from Oregon Pre continued running and was preparing for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. On May 30, 1975 having been at a party and had just dropped off friend Frank Shorter, Pre headed off in his MGB. Having had a little too much alcohol Pre lost control of his car on a curvy road and crashed into a rock wall. The car overturned and trapped Prefontaine under his car. The first witness on the scene had seen another car leaving the scene. Pre was found flat on his back but was still alive under his car. The witness tried to get Prefontaine free from under the car but could not do it. The witness ran for help but when he returned Prefontaine had died. Steve Prefontaine was only 24 and we will never know if he would have come home with Olympic Gold. Knowing the type of competitive runner he was I have no doubt that he would have come home an Olympic Champion. For those of us that remember him on the track and enjoyed watching him run, we can still hear the chant “Pre!”

September, every year on the third Saturday 1000 plus run in the Prefontaine Memorial Run 10k.

1983, inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

Two movies have been made about Steve Prefontaine, “Without Limits” and “Prefontaine”.

Prefontaine Quotes:

"A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more".

"Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it".

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • GNelson profile image

      GNelson 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Great Athletes have one thing in common, the will to win. Steve was one of them.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)