Long-distance Runner Steve Prefontaine Passed Away at the Young Age of 24.

The passing of one of the greatest American runners occurs this weekend, marking the 40th anniversary of his passing. A single car accident took Steve Prefontaine’s life only hours after he had won his final race.

On May 30th, 1975, the United States of America said goodbye to its greatest sprinter. Steve Prefontaine, who had just won a race on his home track, was killed in a car accident hours later. He was only 24 years old.

Pre, as fans would call him, grew up in Coos Bay, a small logging town in Oregon. During his junior and senior years at Marshfield High School, Prefontaine went undefeated in cross-country and track despite being only 15 years old at the time. With a time of 8 minutes and 41.5 seconds, he also set a new national high school record for the two-mile distance.

After receiving a letter from Ducks head coach Bill Bowerman, Steve Prefontaine made the decision to enroll at Oregon University in Eugene. While playing for Bowerman, Pre suffered only two defeats during his collegiate career, making him a legend in the eyes of fans. He entered the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich because he wanted to run in his favorite event, the 5000 meters. For some reason, Prefontaine only managed to place fourth, missing out on bronze by mere centimeters. After earning his degree, Prefontaine continued to compete in track and field for the Oregon Track Club, where he broke American records in distances ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 meters. He felt ready to redeem himself at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, and he was in the best shape of his life.

Pre died before 1976 even arrived.

In the early hours of a summer night in 1975, after Prefontaine had won the 5000 meters (which would be his final track event) at Hayward Field, he celebrated with some of the visiting athletes from other countries. A little after midnight, Prefontaine was driving home when his MGB crashed into a rock wall and flipped, trapping him underneath. Because of the impact and weight of his beloved car on his chest, he didn’t die instantly but rather suffocated to death.

steve prefontaine death

The 43rd anniversary of his passing is later this month, and his legacy continues to inspire athletes of all ages. The Board of Directors of the Oregon Track Club decided to honor Pre’s legacy by naming the meet he helped organize after him. Now an annual event, the Steve Prefontaine Classic has quickly risen to the ranks of the best meets in the United States.

Who is Steve Prefontaine?

If you’re into sports at all, you probably don’t need an introduction to Steve Prefontaine. People who remember Jared Leto in the title role of “Prefontaine” (1997) might recognize him. It wasn’t until the following year, in ‘Without Limits,’ that Billy Crudup was cast in the role of the legendary athlete. Viewers and critics alike found both films to be informative and insightful depictions of his life and the events leading up to and including his untimely demise.

On January 25, 1951, in Coos Bay, Oregon, Prefontaine entered the world. He and his two sisters, Neta and Linda, grew up in a home that their father had constructed. Reports say that Prefontaine spent much of his junior high years on the football and basketball teams despite being excluded from games due to his diminutive stature. When he was in eighth grade, he witnessed several members of the varsity cross country team jogging in preparation for a race. For him, at the time, it was just another day of doing something ordinary. Yet it wasn’t until later that year that he realized he could hold his own in longer races.

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It is said that by the second week of the daily mile runs, Prefontaine was able to place second overall. He became enamored with cross-country running as a result of his newfound success and athletic ability. That was the first spark that lit the fuse.

Prefontaine, while training for the 1976 Olympics with the Oregon Track Club, broke the American record in every distance from 2,000 to 10,000 meters. With the careers of Prefontaine, Jim Ryun, Frank Shorter, and Bill Rodgers all receiving extensive media coverage, the 1970s saw a “running boom.”

The Olympic long-distance runner from the United States competed in Munich in 1972.

What Caused Steve Prefontaine’s Demise?

In 1975, at the age of 24, Prefontaine was killed in a car crash. His vehicle had flipped, and he was pinned beneath the debris. When the paramedics finally arrived, he was already declared dead. The police in Eugene, Oregon reportedly found his BAC to be 0.16.

steve prefontaine death

Traumatic asphyxiation was listed as the official cause of death. Prefontaine was laid to rest at Sunset Memorial Park in his birthplace of Coos Bay.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Did Steve Prefontaine Ever Wear Nike?

The University of Oregon, where Nike got its start, is represented by the green and yellow of the shoes. Steve Prefontaine was the original wearer of these shoes. These Oregon Waffles are the first pair of Pre’s shoes to be released to the public, as he was the first runner signed by Nike.

Do Any of Steve Prefontaine’s Records Still Stand?

At the time of his death in 1975, at the age of 24, Prefontaine held every American record in the distance running from 2,000 to 10,000 meters. It has taken a long time for American distance runners to approach those marks since then.

How Many Weekly Miles Did Steve Prefontaine Run?

Every week on Sunday, I slog through the city’s most forlorn and industrial neighborhoods for a distance of 15–17 miles. The diet of the pres was very easy to follow.

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