5 Interesting Facts about Steve Prefontaine

March 12, 2019
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Did you know that Steve Prefontaine was never a runner? Lovingly called "Pre" by his fans, he was a rebel that happened to get into running and was very good at doing it! He had swagger and was an icon as a record holder for long-distance events. Whether he was running two kilometers or ten, Prefontaine was, quite simply, a legend. He put in the work and because of that, became someone to aspire to be.

There’s a lot that we have discovered about Steve Prefontaine in recent years, and below you'll find five interesting facts about Steve.

The First Signature Athlete For Nike

Back in 1974, Nike was hunting for an athlete to wear their running shoes. They found Steve Prefontaine, a talented American distance runner,  and signed with him for $5,000. Pre was the first track athlete that Nike has signed on.

Prefontaine had become a fantastic athlete under the watchful eye of Bill Bowerman, the sports coach at the University of Oregon - who also happened to be the co-founder for Nike! He wore the Montreal spikes and the Boston flats, and it was Prefontaine that made the running shoes with Nike famous.

Steve's Steps to Success

During his keynote address at Oregon, Prefontaine made sure his goal of the speech was directed specifically to the athletes in the audience. He wanted to make sure that these athletes walked away from the speech understanding his three key factors to success: have a good diet, train hard and be sure let your body recover and rest. Prefontaine also talked about how important it was to train as an individual as well as a team.

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Brands Before Nike

As Prefontaine is affiliated with the Nike name, it's okay to assume he would have only worn the Nike brand. However, before Nike, Prefontaine wore other brands including Puma, Adidas and Onitsuka Tigers. He spent some of the best moments of his career in a variety of trainers, from the 3oz trainers that were hand-made by Bowerman to the Adidas shoes he wore for the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Nike - A Tribute Well Deserved

As Prefontaine was so ingrained in Nike's legacy, Nike paid tribute to him and Bowerman along with Knight and Bill with the 2007 Nike Vintage Collection. Some of the most famed runners from the late '70s were profiled for the tribute. The whole tribute was fitting for these athletes, and it was fashionable for the time, too.

Steve Prefontaine: A Legacy Left Too Soon

During his time at the University of Oregon between 1969 and 1973, Prefontaine was a fire on the track and became an Oregon legend when he scooped seven NCAA titles—three of those were in cross-country and four of those in the three-mile track. Prefontaine set more than a dozen American distance running records before his untimely death. Prefontaine was the first collegian to conquer this feat in track running and the second ever collegian to conquer cross-country.

As he was preparing for the 1976 Olympics, Steve Prefontaine died in a car accident at the age of 24. The facts about him show him to be a legend on the track - even if he didn't initially set out to be.

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