Who was Steve Prefontaine?

He was the greatest long distance runner in American History and by far one of the most popular Track and Field athlete's of all time. At the time of his death at a young age of 24, Pre held 14 American Track and Field Records from 2,000 meters to 10, 000 meters.

"Either you were a Pre fan, or you were not."
Tom Jordan

For five years, no American runner could beat Pre at any distance over a mile. Then in May 1975 "PRE" finally lost. Driving home from a party of which he had drunk four to five beers in a several hour period, Steve Prefontaine died in a one car rollover accident. PRE's death was not just another drinking and driving accident, it was the night, The American Distance runner died...

"The Magic Was Gone Forever."
Rick Riley

Pre once said...
"Most people run a race to see who is fastest.
I run a race to see who has the most guts."

When Steve ran a race you knew serveral things as an athlete and a spectator. The race was going to be fast. It was going to be guts race, even if he was running alone or unopposed. A race with Prefontaine in it was an exciting race for start to finish whatever the distance was.

He never settled for second best, not in practice, not in school, and not with work. If he couldn't go for the gold then it wasn't worth his time and energy. He put more into life in one day than most put into a week or even a month.

"To give anything less than your best
is to sacrifice the gift."
Steve Prefontaine

Oregon's Freshman VS. Washington State's Lindgren

I first met Steve Prefontaine in 1973. I was a freshman distance runner for Ferris High School (Spokane, Washington) at the time. I was selected to help assist in the finish chute in Spokane for the NCAA Cross Country Meet. It was a race that I will never forget. Nick Rose had this huge lead. I remember at the 3 mile mark Pre looking behind him. One could almost read his thoughts when he focussed back on Rose, "He wasn't going to settle for second best." He chipped away at Rose's lead over the next two miles and caught him with a mile left. Rose clung to him for dear life, but with the race in hand, Pre just pulled away. The above tag is my official's tag from that meet.

Pre came into the chute. He was totally spent. I remember helping him through the chute. When we got to the scorers table, he looked back at me and said, "I'll sign an autograph for you later." After the interviews, Pre came back up to me and signed the back of my official's tag. I couldn't believe that he remembered me. He made me feel very important, something he did very well with everybody he met. We even had a chance to talk distance running in Spokane and the Riley's, Rick and Tim.

The second autograph is from Neal Cusack, the 1972 NCAA Cross Country Champion. Pre asked Neil to sign my tag. Pre later told me that I should hang on to this tag. I also have in my possession the NCAA Program from that meet, and at one time I even had the mile and 3 mile marker from the race. However the marker turned up missing from my Mother's house a few years ago after a good house cleaning.

Pre was indeed a rare individual. He made an impression on everyone he met. Today runners young and old flock to Eugene to run the trails that Pre ran. Its that unwritten tradition that if you are a runner and you are in Eugene, that you run to Pre's Rock. Its amazing what people leave behind just to let him know, "We still care! We still remember!"

Pre's Memmorial

Today, Pre lives in many of us. Pat Tyson is one of those people. Pat is the Mead High School (Spokane, WA) Cross Country and Distance Coach who has that special charisma that Pre possessed. Pat's Cross Country Teams have won 10 Washington Cross Country State Titles including 9 straight State Titles from 1988 to 1996. During 1997, 1998, and 1999 Mead's cross country team was second those years to another Washington State power University High School also of Spokane. Pat Tyson's Teams are nationally recognized because of this outstanding record. But one will notice where Pat's heart is with his ball cap.
(Pat was Steve's roommate for two years at Oregon.)

Mead's Cross Country Hat

Tom Jordan writes in his introduction to his updated book, Pre, The Story of America's Greatest Running Legend, "There was something about Steve Prefontaine that demanded attention. As a writer for Track and Field News, in the early 1970's, along with just about everyone else in the track world, I was fascinated by the phenomenon known as "PRE." His was a nature brash, fearless, outspoken, and ---in the United States, at least--invincible on the track. To hear him hold forth to the media was to listen to a machine gun locked on automatic fire. To watch him back up his talk on the track was a thrill for his admirers and frustration to his competitors. Either you were a Pre fan, or you were not. I was a fan."

The following are Prefontaine links and other popular running links. If you have another Pre link that should be added please let me know. Rather than duplicate the information from other web pages, my intent is to have the Prefontaine sites linked together.

Steve Prefontaine Related Sites

PRE Photo's From 1971 NCAA Cross Country Meet
Runners World-Who Is Steve Prefontaine-by Don Kardon
Curt's "PRE" Page
"Prefontaine" Movie Details
Prefontaine Quotes
Nike's Tribute To Prefontaine
Prefontaine Classic Homepage
Tom Jordan's Webpage for his book PRE!
Here is an essay about Pre, written by Mike Van Meter
Prefontaine, A Living Legend
A New Prefontaine Web Page
Prefontaine Road Race and Links
Oregon University's Steve Prefontaine Page
Marshfield's High School Prefontaine Page
Stop Pre
Go Pre


Track and Field News
Washington Cross Country Web Page
Washington State Cross Country Meet
Washington State High School Track
Washington 2A/1A/B State Meet Web Site
Spokane's BloomsDay Results
On the Run, Pacific N.W. Running
Running Amuck
The Running Doctor
USA Track and Field Long Distance Page
The La Londe Family Web Page and Great Links

The Final Drive To The Finish

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Last Updated 01/01/2009