Steve Prefontaine

Birthday: 01/25/51 Mile PR: 3:54.6 - 1973
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:38.1 - 1973
High School: Marshfield ’69, Coos Bay, OR
Hometown: Coos Bay, OR
College: University of Oregon ‘73

Steve Prefontaine, “Pre”, was one of the most charismatic, talented runners ever and a top Miler too with a 3:54.6 personal record – the 9th fastest performer at the time (tie with Marty Liquori) – set at an exciting, highly anticipated 1973 Hayward Field showdown race won by fellow 1972 U.S. Olympian Dave Wottle.

The 1971 Pan Am Games 5000m gold medalist once held every American outdoor track record from 2000 meters to 10,000 meters as well as the High School 2 Mile record (8:41.5). The two-time AAU 3 Mile champion (1971 & ‘73) also won three NCAA Cross Country titles (1970-71 & ‘73) and a record four NCAA 3 Mile / 5000m crowns (1970-73) while at the University of Oregon.

Pre, who fought hard for athletes’ rights, tragically died in a car accident, at age 24, on May 30, 1975 in Eugene, Oregon. Since his untimely death, the annual Prefontaine Classic track meet has been held in Eugene, and thousands of fans have also made a pilgrimage to pay respects at Pre’s Rock above Hayward Field.

In 2022, the Oregon legend was one of 30 inductees into the inaugural class of USTFCCCA’s Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame.

FUN FACT: In 1973, Pre was the first track athlete that the nascent shoe company called NIKE signed to a contract.

FUN FACT II: Pre had a 35-3 overall record at Oregon’s storied Hayward Field with all three defeats in the Mile.

FUN FACT III: Pre was coached by the legendary Bill Bowerman, who called him "Rube" because the small town kid was so direct and upfront with people.

FUN FACT IV: Hollywood released two movies about the sport’s James Dean: Prefontaine (1997) starring Jared Leto and Without Limits (1998) starring Billy Crudup.


In intimate tour, Prefontaine’s sister shares iconic runner’s life story, hometown

May 30, 2018

"It was his attitude of that ultra confidence. It wasn’t so much about the running. It was about his spirit. There was something kind of magical."

By Andrew Greif, The Oregonian / OregonLive

COOS BAY — Linda Prefontaine thought she’d never move back to her hometown.

But not only did she...

Read More comments

A Falcon and a Duck Made the Pre Classic Fly

May 25, 2017

Without a doubt, though, the big, highly anticipated Mile race - Wottle vs. Pre - established this meet as the USA’s must-see outdoor invitational.

By Jesse Squire, Citius Mag

The Prefontaine Classic might not exist without Bowling Green. I am not making this up.

I ran at Bowling Green...

Read More comments

Pre & Me

May 26, 2016

I told myself there was much to be learned from such a display of passion, whether you were running a Mile or a company.

By Phil Knight, for Runner's World

Excerpted from Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight. Copyright © 2016 by Phil Knight. Reprinted by permission of...

Read More comments

40 Years of Prefontaine: Legend

June 01, 2015

“Pre was a rebel from a working-class background, a guy full of cockiness and guts,” said Nike co-founder Phil Knight. “Pre’s spirit is the cornerstone of this company’s soul.”


In 1973, two years after the Nike brand was born and the first Swoosh adorned shoes, the nascent...

Read More comments

What Makes Pre So Special

May 20, 2015

Heroes like Steve Prefontaine never really die. They live on in our hearts and perform their warrior deeds on the big screens of memory and imagination. They define the excellence to which we aspire. They arouse our spirits. They fire our souls.

By Jeff Johnson

Although Steve Prefontaine...

Read More comments

1973 Hayward Field Restoration: Prefontaine takes on Wottle

October 14, 2014

“I can remember just thinking that to me it was one person wins, one person loses, but he had the perspective that I wished I had. He kind of knew that often times, it’s not you. It’s your competitors and your coach and all the other things. It all mixes together to develop a world class runner."...

Read More comments

Through the years at the Prefontaine Classic

May 29, 2014

Alan Webb steals 2001 Pre Classic; “It’s kind of a point of pride for us, that we have more sub-4-minute Miles than any other meet.”

By Chris Hansen, Register Guard

For four decades the Prefontaine Classic has been bringing the best track & field athletes in the world to Hayward Field for one...

Read More comments

That Pre Thing

April 01, 2013

He wasn’t always the fastest. Nor was he the most decorated. So four decades after his death, why is Steve Prefontaine still the most influential American runner ever?

By Michael Heald, Runner's World

The grandstand at Marshfield High School is nearly empty, but it seems like everyone in Coos...

Read More comments

Leading Men: Bill Bowerman & Steve Prefontaine

April 02, 2006

At their first goal-setting session, Prefontaine announced to Bowerman that it was great that Bill was the finest coach of Milers, because that was the race he wanted to ultimately rule. Bowerman asked how fast he hoped to run. Pre said, “3:48.”

By Kenny Moore, Runner’s World, April 2006


Read More comments

Return the Mile to prominence on the American & worldwide sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the Mile to create a movement.

Bring Back the Mile as the premier event in the sport, and increase interest in and media coverage of the Mile for both those who love the distance as well as the general public.

Bring Back the Mile to celebrate the storied distance and to recognize the people who made and make the Mile great and to promote Mile events and the next generation of U.S. Milers.

Bring Back the Mile to create a national movement for the Mile as America’s Distance,
to inspire Americans to run the Mile as part of their fitness program and to replace the 1600 meters at High School State Track & Field Meets across the country.

Become a Mile Maniac member or a BBTM sponsor today! Join us, and go Mile!

Join Us

Thanks for joining the movement and being a Mile Maniac. We'll keep you up to-date with our Mile wires as well as exclusive contests and opportunities. Help us spread the word by sharing our site and joining us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!