The Hayward Restoration Meet began in 1974. One of the finest races of the day was a battle between Frank Shorter, Olympic gold medalist and Steve Prefontaine, Olympic 4th placer, in the 5000 meters. Frank Shorter took the lead in the 3 mile with a lap to go, and with a long wind up, and the support of ‘his people’ Steve Prefontaine flew by Frank Shorter as they both broke the AR for 3 miles, with Pre running 12:51.4. In the following year, Shorter and Prefontaine both battled over 5000 meters,with Prefontaine getting the win, nearly beaking the AR. Prefontaine died early the next morning. Nike has been involved since 1978, as the meet became the Prefontaine Classic in 1975.
Mo Farah wins his last appearance at Pre Classic, May 2017, photo by PhotoRun.net
This video was done in May 2017, prior to my trip to the 2017 Nike Pre Classic. I found this little gem this week and thought I would share it with you. Original post was May 17, 2017.
I have missed a few Prefontaine Classic meets since the late 1980s, and for good reason. With Nike’s support, and Tom Jordan’s magnifiscent obsession, the Prefontaine Classic has given American fans a chance to see European style track meets in the Pacific Northwest. The crowds at Hayward are some of the most knowledgable and effusive crowds in the nation. The Pre Classic is also the yearly affirmation by Nike that they support the sport to the core. For many years, the Pre Classic was the only world class one day (now two day) invitational in North America. Part of the deal is this: Nike requires many of its athletes to run, jump or throw at the Pre Classic. With such power over athletes, the estimated budget of getting such a field has to be north of several million dollars a year.
I also believe, if one looks closely, that Pre actually shows up in the stands. His beard is graying, his Oregon affinity is reconnizable. In his hand, a nice veggie buritto and a Coors in a paper bag. That may be my imagination, or just my sadness over such a fine person, loved by many, having left this world at the age of 25. Yet, through this meet, his legacy lives on.
Here is our video series, presented by RunBlogRun, Conversations with Larry, on why the Pre Meet is important. Thanks to the Shoe Addicts, who produced our video for RunBlogRun.