Steve Prefontaine, photo by Jeff Johnson, courtesy of GoDucks.com.
Copyright of photo retained by Jeff Johnson.
I did not know Steve Prefontaine. I had watched him race on TV, but never got to see him race in person. I knew who he was, as Steve Prefontaine was more than an athlete, he was a rock star.
Prefontaine was a runner who wanted to see just how good he could be. He turned down $250k to become a pro runner on the ill fated ITA series, because he wanted to take on Viren in Montreal.
When I read Tom Jordan's book, Pre! I got it. Pre was a 24 year old who died way too early, but who had accomplished much in that short life. He had finished fourth in one Olympics, owned American records from 2000m to 10,000 meters, and was part of the a little shoe company called Nike.
I was seventeen when Steve Prefontaine died. I remember his death on TV that night. I remember reading it in the paper. It hit me in the gut very hard.
The Pre Classic is the sanctuary where Pre's people celebrate his life. Tom Jordan has managed that wonderful event for 40 years now.
In the video below, I challenged the Shoe Addicts, our digital partners, to answer the question, What is Pre?
I think that they did a nice job.
Why do we celebrate track & field for two days at Hayward Field at the end of each May?
We do it because, for too short a time, Steve Prefontaine, a plucky kid from Coos Bay adopted the city of Eugene and won 25 straight races at Hayward Field.