If Bill Bowerman isn’t the greatest American running coach ever, he certainly is the most famous. In case you don’t know who Bill Bowerman is, here’s a really brief intro:
- He coached the very fruitful University of Oregon track and field team for 24 years.
- Wrote a book credited with bringing jogging to North America.
- Was almost as passionate about making running shoes as he was for training his athletes. This “hobby” led to the formation of a rather successful sporting goods company named after the greek goddess Nike.
- Coached Steve Prefontaine
If he wasn’t the greatest American runner ever, Steve Prefontaine certainly is the most famous/infamous. In case you don’t know who “Pre” is, here’s very small bit about him:
- He was virtually unbeatable in the U.S. in an impressive range of distances.
- He had a rock star-like following in North America. Has any runner here had that kind of impact since?
- He held or holds several U.S. running records.
- He’s probably most famous for a race he did not win – the 5000 meter race at the 1972 Munich Olympics
- He died in a tragic car accident at the tender age of 24.
Both Bowerman and Pre are worthy of your attention – especially if you are American (I’m Canadian, eh). A quick google search will find you some spotty information but, this site is one of the best I’ve found – mostly because of all the captioned pictures, books and movies found there.
And if you’re looking for something more along the lines of a movie, I recommend two. Without Limits is a terrific dramatic take on the the life of Pre with some very insightful, inspirational and touching scenes letting us into the minds of both Pre and Bill Bowerman. The final scenes are real tear jerkers.
Do you have a favorite running legend you’d like us to feature? Tell us!