Prefontaine is arguably the greatest American
distance runner in history.
"Pre" was unstoppable on the track
and at the height of his career, he held
every American track and field record from
the 2,000 to the 10,000 meters.
Pre was born is Coos Bay, Oregon. His running
career began at Marshfield High School where
he was undefeated in cross-country and in
track his junior and senior years. As a
senior, he broke the American record for
the two mile run. His outstanding performance
attracted the attention of Bill Bowerman,
legendary track coach at the University
of Oregon and co-founder of Nike, Inc.
Pre entered the University of Oregon in
1969. He became famous for winning races,
setting and resetting his own records and
filling the University of Oregon's Hayward
Field to capacity with fans that would erupt
into cheering at the mere site of him. At
the end of his four years at the University
of Oregon, Pre racked up seven NCAA titles:
three in cross-country, '70, '71, '73; and
four in the three-mile in track, '70, '71,
'72 and '73. Pre was the first athlete to
win four consecutive NCAA track titles in
the same event. He held eight collegiate
records and his three-mile and six-mile
records are still standing today. During
his career he broke his own or other American
records 14 different times.
Pre competed in the 5,000 meters at the
1972 Olympic Games in Munich. He took the
lead with a mile to go and held on until
Finland's Lasse Viren passed him with 600
meters left in the race. Pre finished fourth.
His death in a car accident on May 30, 1975,
shocked the running community world wide.
Pre was only 24 years old. Twenty years
after his death, Pre's impact on running
is no less than it was at the pinnacle of