For Fans of Steve Prefontaine & Bill Bowerman

Posted by Filed Under: Elite Running

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:

  1. He coached the very fruitful University of Oregon track and field team for 24 years.
  2. Wrote a book credited with bringing jogging to North America.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. He was virtually unbeatable in the U.S. in an impressive range of distances.
  2. He had a rock star-like following in North America. Has any runner here had that kind of impact since?
  3. He held or holds several U.S. running records.
  4. He’s probably most famous for a race he did not win – the 5000 meter race at the 1972 Munich Olympics
  5. 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.

Fire On The Track: The Steve Prefontaine Story was voted the Best Running Movie of All Time on LetsRun. As far as I know, it’s only available on VHS but definitely worth a watch.

Do you have a favorite running legend you’d like us to feature? Tell us!

About Mark Iocchelli

Also known as the "Running Blogfather", I'm a 40-something marathoner who has beaten stress fractures and terrible shin splints. Now I'm running double the mileage with no pain - and I'm getting faster. I love to talk about running form and Arthur Lydiard. I also enjoy taking photographs, have a beautiful (and very patient!) wife, and am the proud father of two crazy kids. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about the site.

  1. Adeel on January 17th at 8:19 am

    Pre has quite the following among high school students. He didn’t have one with me. Coming back from a cross country meet about 6 hours away, our coaches showed us one of the Prefontaine movies. For a very long time, I didn’t understand why they showed us a movie about a guy who didn’t medal at the Olympics and then died. It was pretty anti-climactic.

    I’ve since come to appreciate the legend.

  2. Mark Iocchelli on January 17th at 10:16 am

    I think the legend that sticks with people was his tenacity. He was one of those “never say die” kind of people.

  3. New Year’s Resolutions Blog » Archives » PRE! The love of my life… on January 17th at 4:06 pm

    […] Oh man! This cool blog post about Steve Prefontaine has totally made my day. I was moping around and whining to myself about feeling sick (I only did a half day at work today) when I ran across the post. It’s convinced me to suck it up and at least go for a short run today (hey, The New York Times said it’s okay to run when you don’t feel 100% — it must be true!). I do feel better than I did last night. But this post is supposed to be about Pre! Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Steve was definitely one of my idols. I’ve made the trek to the Pre Classic several times, both to be near where Pre ran and also to see Pre’s Rock and run on Pre’s Trail. They were wonderful experiences, really motivational. It feels great to be in an environment that’s closely related to a really great runner. The notable thing about Pre is that he was not a phenomenally naturally talented runner. He got to where he did in his running career based more on guts than gifts. He had great coaches and support, of course, but a huge portion of his accomplishments came from sheer determination. Pre’s achievements really demonstrate how far you can get by just not accepting losing as an option. […]

  4. A Passion for Running » heroes & other sources of inspiration on March 9th at 6:11 pm

    […] Steve Prefontaine […]

  5. Kyle Jordan on February 1st at 8:55 pm

    Steve Prefontaine was a freaking beast. I cant believe some of the times that he ran in his short life. I can only imagine what he might have been about to run if he wouldn’t have crashed and died. Pre is my idol and he is on of the mane reason that i run today. Anyway i just wanted to let u know that this is a cool blog and that Pre is the man!

  6. Book Review: Bowerman & the Men of Oregon : Complete Running Network on May 19th at 12:02 am

    […] An article I wrote a while ago about Pre and Bowerman […]