Over 40 years ago, Steve Prefontaine ran (and won) his last race in front of a crowd on Oregon state’s Hayward field. He never lost a race there and he ran this 5000m in style, just like he always did. He did not do so well at the Olympics, he finished 4th in this same event, but on his home field and in front of fans, he was probably unbeatable. People who were around then remember what a media sensation that he ways. Tragically, just a few hours later, his MGB convertible would lose control and run into a wall and die at a young age of 24. You can still visit the rock known as “Pre” near the campus when you visit there in Oregon.
He was a explosive runner, still holds many American records. He also broke most of the records in America at the time. He was a great in front of a crowd, which really helped with the cameras. He definitely made a big impact on the sport of track and field and especially long distance running. He is an icon in the ultra running community for sure.
However, my writing today is about his sophomore year in high school. He was good, but not great. He never excelled at sports. As an alternative he tried for the cross country team. He was the 7th position. This was similar to me. I did the exact same thing my sophomore year. I was horrible at sports, so I got on the cross country team and was the worst guy on the team as well. He was not exactly like me, he ran a mile in 5:01. I could not do that then, and might be able to do that now if I really tried hard. So he had some natural running ability, however, the big difference between Steve Prefontaine and myself was what he did the summer after his sophomore year. He trained, hard. Really hard. When he came back, he went through his Junior year with a storm, winning nearly every race and took the state title. It was that summer that he became the legend he is now. It was that hard work he put in, that sheer determination to become better.
So we all have a summer of pre within us. If that 16 year old kid from Coos Bay could decide to take control over his destiny and smash all the running records in his high school, when then you too can do what you set out to do. So are you ready to have your summer of pre?