Favorite Photos: Steve Prefontaine, 1971 NCAA Cross-Country Meet

Best Photo (#1) With Bjorklund (#2)
Taking Control (#3) Grinding Along (#4)
With Coach (#5) With Media (#6)

These are links to snapshots I took at the 1971 NCAA Cross-Country Championships in Knoxville, won by the legendary Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine. Three and a half years later, he was dead.

The summer after these photos were taken, I stood in Munich, watching him take command of the Olympic 5000 Final. No one had wanted to force the pace and with 4 laps to go the 21-year-old Pre upped the ante with laps of 62, 61, and 60, and ended up 4th after the dramatic last lap. Many of us have often wondered what he might have have done in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. I don't think the 5000 would have come down to a kicker's race.

Pre was one of the most talented, grittiest, and charismatic distance runners the U.S. has ever had. Seldom has an American distance runner achieved celebrity status. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a college freshman. Thousands would show up at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field to see him race. Two decades after his death he still appeared in Nike ads.

I was fortunate to watch Prefontaine race 4 times ..at the '69 Nationals in Miami just days after his HS graduation, in Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium at the historic 1971 Africa vs. US Meet, at the '71 Cross Country Championships, and in Munich.

This was a guy with an appetite for hard work, who would attack killer workouts with enthusiam. Yet he was not absorbed nor obsessed with his own running. Pre would make visits to the state prison, and also visit schools and tutor children. He started jogging clubs and helped in the fight for cleaner air. Sad that such a fine person, loved by many, left this world at the age of 25. Those of us who saw his sportsmanship, and his articulate, enthusiastic and confident demeanor, will never forget him.


Suggested reading for those interested in learning more:
PRE!, by Tom Jordan, first published in 1977 by Track & Field News, 129 pages, 63 photos.
Search your libraries for this one!
Video from the above race (1971 NCAA).
The following photos of Prefontaine were not taken by me. But I am adding them to this collection because of the overwhelming response from folks wanting more Pre photos, and more information about him:  Coach Dellinger and Pre  |  1973 NCAA Meet

More information and photos can be found at . . . Oct. 2013: New Prefontaine Movie in the Works (Preview) | University of Oregon page on Pre  |  A good Pre site  |   Another Pre site  |  Another site  |  Another good one.  |   Another one.  |   Steve Bence's site   |   GoPre.com   |   StopPre.com   |   A good links page

A Good Oct. 2013 story on Bill Dellinger.
Wiki pages on: Bill Dellinger | Bill Bowerman | Steve Prefontaine


Send questions, comments to: nctrack@gmail.com

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