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STEVE PREFONTAINE

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  • STEVE PREFONTAINE

    I saw Steve in person only one time. He finished 3rd behind Lindgren and Ryan at the 1969 NCAA meet at Van Courlandt Park. After the race, I stood nearby and listened while he was talking to a group of local high schoolers and getting their full attention. I think he would have been 1976 Olympic champ.

  • #2
    Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

    George, I agree with you...but I think it would have been the 10,000m, not the 5,000m. Pre lacked one thing: blazing kick speed. But I believe he could have run away with the 10K, built a big enough lead in the final 1600m that he wouldn't need a kick. Pre had the ability and guts to break 27:00.

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    • #3
      Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

      >Pre had the ability and guts to break 27:00.

      Kinda of hard when you're PB is 13:21 and you're a 3:54 miler.

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      • #4
        Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

        >>Pre had the ability and guts to break 27:00.

        Kinda of hard when you're PB
        >is 13:21 and you're a 3:54 miler.

        Pre was also a homer. Could not perform outside America. His training after the 72 games was suspect, he was barely able to feed himself, could not put a solid month of training back to back. Pre would have finished 5th or 6th in the 76 trials, and watched the games on TV.

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        • #5
          Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

          >George, I agree with you...but I think it would have been the 10,000m, not the
          >5,000m. Pre lacked one thing: blazing kick speed. But I believe he could have
          >run away with the 10K, built a big enough lead in the final 1600m that he
          >wouldn't need a kick. Pre had the ability and guts to break 27:00.>

          He wouldn't have beaten Viren. He wouldn't have run sub 27.

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          • #6
            Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

            I think Pre did a lot for our sport. I only saw he race live once and that was indoors when Buerkle beat him in a two mile at College Park. I talked to Frank Shorter at the Lynchburg 10 miler one year and he said that it was probably for the best that Pre wasn't around for the 76 Games as he was clean as a runner, and he would not have a chance against Viren, whom Frank doubted was ever clean.

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            • #7
              Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

              last year at the philly 1/2 marathon, i had a similar conversation with rod dixon about viren.

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              • #8
                Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

                Pre was a great one with kids and others who looked up to him with innocence, but, from my experiences as a journalist in Eugene when he was running there (he was a year younger than me), he hated the media with a passion, and it showed.

                I took photos of his last race on May 29, 1975 and interviewed him several times and it became quite clear to me, a runner and running aficianado, that if MEDIA were attached to your name, there was no common ground. He could actually be quite an unpleasant fellow, with what I liked to call a "little guy" syndrome..

                Geoff Parks

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                • #9
                  Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

                  A sign of how big Pre is (and not just in the US). I'm now in Auckland and went through the sports section of the Borders on Queen Street. They had a grand total of 3 athletic biographies in stock: one copy of Bannister's autobiography and 2 copies of "Pre."

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                  • #10
                    Re: STEVE PREFONTAINE

                    >>Pre had the ability and guts to break 27:00.

                    Kinda of hard when you're PB
                    >is 13:21 and you're a 3:54 miler.

                    True, at the time.

                    To add some balance, I'll point out that Prefontaine's first season as an open athlete (1974) was--as it was for most Americans--one of experiment. In trying to gain strength for a summer-long European campaign, he and Dellinger (as Pre later admitted) overemphasized certain things and ended up neglecting his speed-endurance. As Pre said, he was ideally suited for a good 10,000m. and not a good 5,000m. that season. He ran at a high level--setting a lot of American records--and recovered quickly, but just couldn't put anybody away on the last lap to win. Perhaps he wouldn't have been able to anyway, but he definitely did not train himself well enough to have the opportuniy to do so.

                    In 1975, Prefontaine finally agreed to visit Shorter for six weeks of altitude training, trying to naturally mimic the blood-boosting that was going on; part of the plan for doing everything as "right" as possible in 1976.

                    As is standard for altitude training (especially first-timers), he returned to sea-level and felt lethargic for a while. Then, good things started happening. First, an American record 2,000m., then--on the evening he died--a 5,000m. less than 2 seconds off his American record. As he was quoted at the time, he was looking forward to running a fast mile the next week at the Restoration meet (now the Pre Classic). "If I get a good mile, I'll have a good season."

                    Another 4-6 weeks of speedwork, the high level of races in Europe--who knows what could have happened in August, 1975? Then come back and do it all again, even better, the next year...?

                    Outside of the fact a human being perished, THAT is the real tragedy...

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