Steve Prefontaine

Birthday: 01/25/51 Mile PR: 3:54.6 - 1973
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:38.1 - 1973
High School: Marshfield ’69, Coos Bay, OR
Hometown: Coos Bay, OR
College: University of Oregon ‘73

Steve Prefontaine, “Pre”, was one of the most charismatic, talented runners ever and a top Miler too with a 3:54.6 personal record – the 9th fastest performer at the time (tie with Marty Liquori) – set at an exciting, highly anticipated 1973 Hayward Field race won by fellow 1972 U.S. Olympian Dave Wottle. The 1971 Pan Am Games 5000m gold medalist once held every American outdoor track record from 2000 meters to 10,000 meters as well as the High School 2 Mile record (8:41.5). The two-time AAU 3 Mile champion (1971 & ‘73) also won three NCAA Cross Country titles (1970-71 & ‘73) and a record four NCAA 3 Mile / 5000m crowns (1970-73) while at the University of Oregon.

Pre, who fought hard for athletes’ rights, tragically died in a car accident, at age 24, on May 30, 1975 in Eugene, Oregon. Since his untimely death, the annual Prefontaine Classic track meet has been held in Eugene, and thousands of fans have also made a pilgrimage to pay respects at Pre’s Rock above Hayward Field.

FUN FACT I: In 1973, Pre was the first track athlete that the nascent shoe company called Nike signed to a contract.

FUN FACT II: Pre had a 35-3 overall record in the Mile at Oregon’s storied Hayward Field.

FUN FACT III: Pre, coached by the legendary Bill Bowerman, was the first NIKE sponsored track athlete, and Hollywood released two movies about the sport’s James Dean: Prefontaine (1997) starring Jared Leto and Without Limits (1998) starring Billy Crudup.

News

A Falcon and a Duck Made the Pre Classic Fly

May 25, 2017

Without a doubt, though, the big, highly anticipated Mile race - Wottle vs. Pre - established this meet as the USA’s must-see outdoor invitational.

By Jesse Squire, Citius Mag

The Prefontaine Classic might not exist without Bowling Green. I am not making this up.

I ran at Bowling Green...

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40 Years of Prefontaine: Legend

June 01, 2015

“Pre was a rebel from a working-class background, a guy full of cockiness and guts,” said Nike co-founder Phil Knight. “Pre’s spirit is the cornerstone of this company’s soul.”

From Nike.com

In 1973, two years after the Nike brand was born and the first Swoosh adorned shoes, the nascent...

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What Makes Pre So Special

May 21, 2015

For them, Pre ran his workout Mile in 3:58.3 and coughed blood at the end. And then, his lungs gravely wounded, he found a bullhorn and thanked the people for their support.

By Jeff Johnson, Competitor

Although Steve Prefontaine continues to be widely remembered, idolized and celebrated 40...

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1973 Hayward Field Restoration: Prefontaine takes on Wottle

October 14, 2014

“I can remember just thinking that to me it was one person wins, one person loses, but he had the perspective that I wished I had. He kind of knew that often times, it’s not you. It’s your competitors and your coach and all the other things. It all mixes together to develop a world class runner."...

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Through the years at the Prefontaine Classic

May 29, 2014

Alan Webb steals 2001 Pre Classic; “It’s kind of a point of pride for us, that we have more sub-4-minute Miles than any other meet.”

By Chris Hansen, Register Guard

For four decades the Prefontaine Classic has been bringing the best track & field athletes in the world to Hayward Field for one...

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That Pre Thing

April 01, 2013

He wasn’t always the fastest. Nor was he the most decorated. So four decades after his death, why is Steve Prefontaine still the most influential American runner ever?

By Michael Heald, Runner's World

The grandstand at Marshfield High School is nearly empty, but it seems like everyone in Coos...

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Leading Men: Bill Bowerman & Steve Prefontaine

April 02, 2006

At their first goal-setting session, Prefontaine announced to Bowerman that it was great that Bill was the finest coach of Milers, because that was the race he wanted to ultimately rule. Bowerman asked how fast he hoped to run. Pre said, “3:48.”

By Kenny Moore, Runner’s World, April 2006

fter...

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