“You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” — Steve Prefontaine
Nearly 4 years ago, when an opportunity came up to visit Portland, Ore., it was a chance that just couldn’t be passed up.
As an avid runner, the chance to visit North America’s running mecca may only come once in a lifetime. A haven for elite runners, Portland provides a nearly unequaled system of paths and an amazing backdrop. In nearby Beaverton are the headquarters for Nike.
A few hours drive south on the highway lies Eugene, home to the University of Oregon, a picturesque network of trails and the legendary ground of Steve Prefontaine.
At the time, the chance to run on hallowed ground proved incentive enough to fly halfway across the country for 4 days for no other reason but to run. The misting rain, after coming 1,500 miles to capture the trail running experience, wouldn’t deter me or prevent a chance to cover the same ground as one of running’s legends.
During those few hours in Eugene, my legs carried me over Pre’s Trail, around the track at Hayward Field and up Skyline Boulevard to visit Pre’s Rock, which serves as a memorial and marker to the spot where a car crash claimed his life — 40 years ago today.
All types of runners — young, old, fast, slow, veterans and newbies — can respect and appreciate the legend of Pre. But few, if any, can put into perspective what made Steve Prefontaine so special as a person or an athlete. If you read nothing else today, take 10 minutes and read this tribute to Pre.