“A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding.”- Steve Prefontaine
One of Coos Bay’s favorite sons, international track star and running legend Steve Prefontaine, will be honored next month during the annual Bay Area Fun Festival. Runners from all over the country will gather here on Saturday, September 19th, for the 2015 Prefontaine Memorial Run, a challenging 10K road race across one of his old training courses, with its finish line at the high school track where he first competed. This event is sanctioned by the Road Runners Club of America.
Steve Prefontaine or “Pre” as he was called, was born and raised in Coos Bay, Oregon and graduated from Marshfield High School. When he entered the University of Oregon in the fall of 1969, he was one of most highly recruited high school track athletes ever and went on to compete in international meets against the USSR, Germany, Great Britain and a combined European team. His life was tragically cut short in a car accident at the age of 24. At the time of his death, Pre held every American distance running record from 2-miles through 10,000 meters.
“At no place is the celebration of Steve Prefontaine and his story more personal than in Coos Bay, Oregon, where he was born in 1951 and discovered his gift for running fast and far as a student at Marshfield High School,” states the event website. “Here, he developed his hunger to be the best in the field, and more, to do it with style—to create beauty when he ran, to show people something they had never seen before.”
To learn more about The Prefontaine Memorial Run or to register, visit www.prefontainerun.com/run
Here are some other points of interest to check out during your Coos Bay visit:
- Prefontaine Gallery located in the Coos Art Museum: Here, you will find an original painting of “Pre” by artist Chris Hopkins and the permanent collection of Steve’s awards and memorabilia as well as numerous photographs highlighting his illustrious running career. Admission is free during the Bay Area Fun Festival September 18th-20th, 2015.
- Marshfield High School: Under the guidance of Coach Walt McClure, this is where “Pre” became a force to be reckoned with, and where he set his last American record on May 9, 1975 at 2,000 meters in 5:01.4.
- Farr’s True Value Hardware: Stop in and meet Jay Farr, one of our community members who knew Steve as a friend, teammate and classmate. Jay, also a runner, is a 1969 graduate of Marshfield High School who went on to graduate from Yale. Jay has also been the Head Cross Country Coach at Marshfield and is a founding member of the Prefontaine Memorial Committee.
- Nasburg Huggins Insurance houses the Prefontaine Memorial Run Store, upstairs in their turret room at 375 S. 5th St in Coos Bay- 541-267-3165. The whole store collection moves to St. Monica’s Catholic Church Parrish Hall (357 S. 6th St) for Friday Registration and Saturday Race Day. The rest of the year it is open during office hours M-F 8 to 5.
- Sunset Memorial Park: Steve Prefontaine was laid to rest just south of Coos Bay, where many come to pay tribute and reflect on this special life taken too soon
Prefontaine photo credit: Steve Prefontaine with winning trophy after setting a new US record in the 5000m in a US vs USSR All Stars meet at Edwards Field, Berkeley, CA, July 3, 1971 via photopin (license)