A little museum to Pre and Nike's beginning, sits at the entrance of the Nike Running store in Eugene. They have a replica of the waffle iron, Pre's shoes and running log.
"Steve Roland 'Pre' Prefontaine (b. January 25, 1951 Coos Bay, Oregon,– May 30, 1975) was an American middle and long-distance runner. Prefontaine was primarily a long-distance runner, who once held the American record in the seven distance track events from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters. Prefontaine died at the age of 24 in a car accident.
University of Oregon 1970-1973
Prefontaine was recruited by several top track programs across the United States, but decided to enroll at the University of Oregon to train under coach Bill Bowerman (who in 1964 founded Blue Ribbon Sports, later known as Nike shoe company). After his freshman year, in which he finished third in the NCAA Men's Cross Country Championships, he suffered only two more defeats in college (both in the mile), winning three Division I NCAA Cross Country Championships and four straight three-mile/5000-meter titles in track. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Prefontaine was an aggressive runner, insisting on going out hard and not relinquishing leads. He was quoted as saying, "No one will ever win a 5,000 meter by running an easy two miles. Not against me". He would later state, "I am going to work so that it's a pure guts race. In the end, if it is, I'm the only one that can win it". A local celebrity, chants of "Pre! Pre! Pre!" became a frequent feature at Hayward Field, a mecca for track and field in the USA. Fans wore t-shirts that read "LEGEND", while those who supported other teams wore shirts with the phrase "STOP PRE" printed on a stop sign. Prefontaine gained national attention and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 19.
Prefontaine set the American record in the 5000 meters race, the event that took him to the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich. In the finals, Prefontaine took the lead in the last mile and ended the slow pace of the first two miles. He held the lead until the last 150 meters before battling for first against Lasse Virén and silver medalist Mohammed Gammoudi. Britain's hard-charging Ian Stewart moved into third place in within ten meters of the finish line to deprive Prefontaine of a medal.
Returning for his senior year at the University of Oregon, Prefontaine ended his collegiate career with only three defeats in Eugene, all in the mile. It was during this year that Prefontaine began a protracted fight with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), which demanded that athletes who wanted to remain "amateur" for the Olympics not be paid for appearances in track meets. Some viewed this arrangement as unfair, because the participants drew large crowds that generated millions of dollars in revenue, with the athletes being forced to shoulder the burden of all their own expenses without assistance. At the time, the AAU was rescinding athletes' amateur status if they were endorsed in any way. Because Prefontaine was accepting free clothes and footwear from Nike, he was subject to the AAU's ruling.
Pre's Rock is a memorial at the site of the roadside boulder where Prefontaine died. Many runners inspired by Prefontaine leave behind memorabilia to honor his memory and continued influence, such as race numbers, medals, and running shoes. Pre's Rock was dedicated in December 1997 and is maintained by Eugene Parks and Recreation as Prefontaine Memorial Park. The rock is just across the Willamette River from the east end of Pre's Trail. The memorial features a plaque with a picture of Prefontaine that reads:
“ For your dedication and loyalty
To your principles and beliefs...
For your love, warmth, and friendship
For your family and friends...
You are missed by so many
And you will never be forgotten... ”