Traveling to Oregon to Watch the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field Event? Take a Side Trip to Steve Prefontaine’s Hometown!
After a year of lock-downs, event cancellations, social distancing, travel bans and masking - we are finally recognizing signs that life may soon return to normal! The 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field happening in Eugene, Oregon June 18 - 27, 2021 is most certainly a sign of big and exciting things ahead! It’s hard to compete with the energy and excitement of an Olympic Team Trials event at Hayward Field, but fans may want to venture out and explore other wonderful destinations Oregon offers like Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston.
There are many reasons why runners and sports fans love to travel here. There is an abundance of natural running and hiking trails, temperate weather and coastal beauty that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. However, there is one primary reason Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston is a popular destination with running fans. Visitors from all over the world have traveled to Oregon’s Adventure Coast to explore the hometown of internationally acclaimed track star Steve Prefontaine, who helped to inspire the American running craze that began in the mid-1970s.
Steve Prefontaine, or “Pre”, as he was called, was born and raised in Coos Bay, Oregon, and graduated from Marshfield High School. Upon entering the University of Oregon in 1969, he was one of the 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.
With the exception of 2020, runners from all over the world have traveled here on an annual basis to compete in the Prefontaine Memorial Run, a challenging 10K road race across one of his former 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. The 2021 Annual Prefontaine Memorial Race is currently scheduled for September 18th, 2021.
“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,” event organizers posted on 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.”
Here are some other points of interest to check out during your visit to Oregon’s Adventure Coast. **Please be advised that certain COVID restrictions could affect the hours or availability of these local places. Please call in advance to confirm.**
- Tour de Pre. Steve Prefontaine’s sister, Linda Prefontaine, continues to honor her brother’s legacy with Tour de Pre, a special one-of-a-kind experience where fans can explore the Coos Bay area, explore where Pre grew up, and appreciate where his brilliant career began while hearing personal stories and anecdotes that only Linda can offer. Advanced reservations required.
- Prefontaine Gallery 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 many photographs highlighting his illustrious running career. The Coos Art Museum is currently open with restrictions to the public. Please call ahead or view their Facebook page for updates.
- 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.
- 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.
Here are some other suggestions to add to your travel itinerary.
- Spend a day at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve learning about our local culture, history and natural resources. There are miles of beautiful hiking trails and waterways to explore, in addition to classes/workshops for all ages.
- Visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. The area extends for 40 miles along the coast, and has dunes that tower more than 500 feet above sea level. The best way to fully experience the Oregon Dunes is a thrilling, heart-pounding ride up and down the mighty hills in an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) or Off Highway Vehicle (OHV).
- Come hungry! There are numerous local restaurants dishing out the freshest seafood and chowder you could hope for. Download our Local Restaurant Guide to carry with you, or visit Oregonsadventurecoast.com/dining to see all our local restaurants.
- Explore the beaches and state parks along the Cape Arago Highway. Take a stroll and watch the surfers on Bastendorff Beach, or search for natural treasures in tide pools in the protected beach in Sunset Bay State Park. We recommend grabbing your binoculars and taking some time to explore the Simpson Reef and nearby Shell Island to view and listen to the seals and sea lions.
- Go fishing, clamming or crabbing (of course!). Fishing, crabbing and clamming opportunities are in no short supply here! There are more than 30 lakes and rivers to choose from in Coos County alone, and anglers will find there is plenty of bay and ocean fishing. Be sure to visit one of our bait shops while in the area. They’re always willing to share pointers with visiting anglers. Learn more about crabbing & clamming on Oregon’s Adventure Coast.
- Try your luck in one of our casinos. Did you know that our little corner of the Pacific Northwest is home to two of the area’s greatest casinos? Whether it’s slots, cards, or games, you’re sure to find round-the-clock adventure, fun, and (fingers crossed) millions right here. Click here to learn more.
- Visit an art and/or history museum. Spend some time browsing the museums, galleries, and other cultural gems in our area, like the Coos Art Museum, the cornerstone of visual arts on Oregon’s Southern Coast. We also recommend adding the Coos History Museum, Oregon’s oldest continuously operated historical society, to your itinerary. Click here to see more wonderful additions to our network of museums and galleries.
Click here for directions and other important travel tips. Whether you are on the hunt for awe-inspiring landscapes, thrilling outdoor activities, prime shopping, fine dining, special events, or an evening of entertainment, Oregon’s Adventure Coast has it all, and more! Learn more about vacation ideas on our site, or reach out to us for help planning your next trip or family getaway.
Click here to contact Oregon’s Adventure Coast and start planning your trip today!
Editor’s Note: As the developments in Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to unfold, please follow the direction from our public health authorities including the CDC, Oregon Health Authority, and Coos Health & Wellness to protect yourself, our community and our visitors.
If you are ready to travel, we are ready to welcome you back to Oregon’s Adventure Coast. However, if you are feeling ill or not comfortable traveling right now, we encourage you to stay home and stay healthy. Let’s all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Click here for more information.