November 23, 2015
By Kris Parfitt
Photo at right: Runners pass the new sign marking Pre’s Trail in Eugene, Oregon. Photo courtesy of www.eugenecascadescoast.org
The legendary “Pre’s Trail” will host part of the American 2016 Olympic Track Team Trials July 1–10 at the Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Winding through Eugene’s Alton Baker Park, the Steve Prefontaine Memorial Jogging Trail, also known as “Pre’s Tail,” will be graced by Olympic runners competing for a spot on the Olympic Track and Field team.
Prefontaine, who broke the American two-mile record while still in high school, died tragically in a car accident in 1975 when he was 24. Pre grew up on the Oregon Coast and piled up seven NCAA records as a student-athlete at the University of Oregon from 1969 –73.
He also placed fourth in the long-distance running competition at the 1972 Olympics, and set 11 U.S. indoor and outdoor track records during his lifetime.
Prefontaine started youth running programs in local Eugene schools, and at the Oregon State Penitentiary he started an inmate running club. Eugene is home to the annual Pre Classic event which attracts athletes from all over the world.
Before his sudden death he was working with the City of Eugene to build a running trail. His coaches, fellow runners and the Eugene community fulfilled his dream shortly after his passing. The 4.07 mile bark-covered trail is located east of the Ferry Street Bridge.