We throw the word “legend” around these days, as if it’s easy to become one. But here’s our definition: someone who inspires a generation that never saw him run. A generation that never saw the real thing. A generation that had to rely on the stories that were told and footage that was found.
Steve Prefontaine was a rebel with a cause: to never give anything less than his best, to never sacrifice the gift, to make you bleed if you were going to beat him. Win or lose, he wanted to paint something beautiful every time he ran. And he did. There was a formula to racing—conserve your energy, draft off the pack, then kick—but Pre never followed it. He didn’t fit the stereotype, but he ran so hard he became the prototype.
His style changed running. His soul shaped Nike.