You can still feel the spirit of Steve Prefontaine in Eugene, OR. Running is the passion in Track Town USA and Pre is the still the energy behind it all. I was fortunate to be taken around to the all the running stops in Eugene by running friend, Chris Yorges. He showed me Pre’s rock where there is a memorial at the place of his car accident, Hendrick’s Park where Pre often ran, and Pre’s trail where the wood chips that Pre loved so much in Europe now adorn these trails across from the University of Oregon. It was a special trip for me to Eugene as I learned so much about the history of the University of Oregon, the famed Hayward field, and Pre.
I traveled to Eugene to participate in the Eugene Challenge Mile, a pancake flat course in downtown Eugene with four turns. The Eclectic Edge Racing team put on the event with the Eugene Running Club – and they all did a great job with the event. A special thank you goes out to Michael Black, owner of the Eugene Running Company, and William Wyckoff from Eclectic Edge Racing. The people at the event made me feel very welcome and made my trip to Eugene one that I will not soon forget. I ran a 4:45 and finished 1st in the 45-49 age group with a solid run down 5th Street. The competition, as you can imagine, in Eugene is very good as we had 24 runners break the 5 minute barrier.
One of those 24 runners was Ted Hunter who drove in from Washington. He came up and introduced himself during my warm ups. Ted stepped up his speed workouts over the last six weeks and at 43 years old he was delighted to break five minutes in 4:56.
The day before the Eugene Challenge Mile, the rains were falling. I had a television interview with KVAL TV and it was pouring while I was being filmed running along the Eugene trails. Brian Elder, sports reporter from KVAL 13, did a splendid job chasing me in the rain and then following up with his story before and after the race on Saturday. We will get Brian’s story linked up to our website for you all to see.
Also on Friday, I had the opportunity to do a video interview at Hayward Field for www.flotrack.com with Kevin Danaher. Kevin is a great guy and it was a pleasure for me to spend so much time with him over the weekend. Early the next morning, Kevin followed me for my pre-race preparations, performance during the race, and then my post-race wrap-up. You will be able to check out Kevin’s piece on www.flotrack.com later this week.
Due to Terry Howell’s recommendation and invitation, I changed my flight plans to stay another day in Eugene to observe the Prefontaine Classic on Sunday. This track meet is the top track meet on American soil. After a 10 mile run on early Sunday morning with Terry and his Australian friend, Ian Leitch, (also a runner from the Santa Barbara area), we all went to see if Bekele or Defar were going to break their world record attempts. Bekele ran unbelievably well, but missed breaking his own world record. It was a memorable day at The Prefontaine Classic as American pole vaulter, Brad Walker, set a new American record and was named the athlete of the meet. We also saw Maria Mutola win her 16th 800 meters in a row at the Prefontaine Classic.
For a Prefontaine fan, visiting Eugene is like visiting Graceland if you were an Elvis Presley fan. You can feel the spirit and the energy of a person that made such a remarkable impact with his life’s gifts and works.
Posted in - My Daily Journal 2008.