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Welcome to Matt's Page of Poetry and Running! Kick of your shoes, hang up your jacket, and stay awhile! Matt's Page of Poetry and Running


Photo by Geoff Parks

Arguably the best american distance runner ever and a great inspiration for any runner!

(other interesting information below)

BornJanuary 25, 1951 in Coos Bay, Ore.
DiedMay 30, 1975 in Eugene, Ore.
FamilyParents Ray and Elfriede Prefontaine, one older, Neta, and younger sister, Linda. Raised in Coos Bay, Ore.

Before College: Coached by Walter McClure, a former Oregon track star, at Marshfield High School. He went undefeated in cross-country and track as a junior and senior. As a senior, he also broke the previous American record for two miles with a time of 8:41.5. Bill Dellinger, then an Oregon assistant track and cross coach, first saw him run as a junior at the state cross country meet in November 1967, and he signed with Oregon on April 29, 1969.

College: Entering the University of Oregon in the fall of 1969 and graduating in the summer of 1973. He won seven NCAA titles; three in cross country (1970, '71, '73), and four in the three-mile in track (?70 (13:22.0), ?71 (13:20.2), ?72 (14:01.4-5K) and ?73 (12:53.4). The first collegian to accomplish the feat in track and the second ever in cross-country. In his first outdoor track race, he won the 2-mile (8:40.40.0) at a triangular against Fresno State and Stanford at Fresno, Calif., on March 21, 1970. Later in that first track season, he clocked 3:57.4 for the mile at the Oregon Twilight (6/5/70), finishing second and setting an Oregon freshman record and a then-personal best. Adding to those victories' drama, Pre's first NCAA 3-mile track title came with a dozen stitches in his foot after a diving board accident days before. The final cross country win came after making up a 100-yard deficit on Western Kentucky's English distance star Nick Rose. At the close of his collegiate career, he had set nine collegiate track records. Pre's first-year notoriety earned him Sports Illustrated cover honors (6/15/70), showing him running on a ridge near Bowerman's house. Altogether, he never lost a race more than a mile in length as a Duck.

Records: He owned every (8) American record between 2,000 and 10,000 meters and between two miles and six miles. He also held eight collegiate records while at Oregon, with his three-mile (12:53.4) and six-mile (27:09.4) still standing. During his career, he broke his own or other American records 14 different times, broke the four-minute barrier nine times, ran 25 two-mile races under 8:40 and 10 5K races faster than 13:30.

Olympics: He competed at one Olympiad, the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, when he was 21 years old (two years younger than anyone else in the 5,000-meter field). He took the lead with a mile to go, and holding it until less than 600 meters remaining. He ultimately finished fourth (13:28.25) behind Lasse Viren of Finland (first, 13:26.42), Mohamed Gammoudi of Tunisia (second, 13:27.33) and Ian Stewart of Great Britain (third, 13:27.61). Stewart passed Prefontaine less than 10 meters from the finish line for the final medal.

Personal Bests

DistanceTime DateLocation
1,500 meters 3:38.1 6/28/73 Helsinki
Mile 3:54.6 6/20/73 Eugene
2,000 meters 5:01.4 5/9/75 Coos Bay
3,000 meters 7:42.6 7/2/74 Milan
5,000 meters 13:21.87 6/26/74 Helsinki
10,000 meters 27:43.6 4/27/74 Eugene

Record Performances

19692-mileAmerican H.S. Record 8:41.5
19715,000 metersAmerican Record 13:30.4
19725,000 metersAmerican Record 13:22.8
19722-mileAmerican Record 8:19.4
19735,000 metersAmerican Record 13:22.4
1973 2-mile Indoor American Record 8:24.6
1973 6-mile American Record 27:09.4
1974 2-mile Indoor American Record 8:20.4
1974 3,000 meters Indoor Record 7:50.0
1974 10,000 meters American Record 27:43.8
1974 6-mile American Record 26:51.8
1974 3-mile American Record 12:51.4
1974 5,000 meters American Record 13:21.9
1974 3,000 meters American Record 7:42.6
1974 2-mile American Record 8:18.4
1975 2,000 meters American Record 5:01.4

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