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Influential Athletes : Steve Prefontaine

In the course of my career I have had the opportunity to work with a number of different athletes and coaches, it’s sometimes humbling to think how uniquely fortunate I’ve been. I was asked earlier this year, “Which athletes made the biggest impact on you?”. For some folks the answer was a surprise, but the athletes that have been transformative for me, were all Track and Field athletes.

For the past two decades the visibility of American track athletes has been on the decline. Many attribute it to the emergence of the “Big 3”. Football, basketball, and baseball are considered by most to be more “viewer friendly” or “exciting” – not to mention that the disparity in an athlete’s potential earnings are immense. With that said, Track and Field has become a sport that most sports fans only watch during the Olympics … so twice a decade.

But, I grew up in Oregon, just a short ride away from Tracktown USA. During the 80’s, in the wake of the death of Steve Prefontaine, on the heels of Mary Decker’s heartbreaking fall in the 3000M - Track and Field was THE sport. Steve Prefontaine is a living legend in Oregon, and if you go to the University of Oregon or Coos Bay it’s essentially a walking tour of shrine’s to Pre. Steve Prefontaine talked about running like it was a religion, and for a lot of young kids in Oregon it became one.

I wasn’t old enough to get to watch Prefontaine run in person, but his ideology was ever present in the culture of sports in Oregon. Everyone knew the quote, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,” and it struck a chord. I wrote it on a piece of paper and hung it on my mirror, I said it when ran sprints after practice, it was a mantra. Anything less than being your best in every step of every competition, was the foundation of not only my athletic career, but also my professional life since.

In honor of Steve Prefontaine's birthday, January 25th, Northwest Fitness will be kicking off it's CAN YOU BEAT PRE - VO2Max Challenge. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO


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