Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Tack Heroes: In Lane 1...

So here we are in the final week of My Track Heroes. I really hope all of you have enjoyed reading about these amazing athletes and why they are heroes to so many track & field athletes, cross country athletes, and just runners in general all over the world. Many of you may already know who will be My Track Hero in lane 1, but you might not know that this lane is shared in my mind.

The first hero in lane 1 is, yep, you guessed it folks, Steve Prefontaine. Of course it is Pre, how could it be anyone else? The man is a running legend whose story is told the world over. Pre painted a picture when he ran, he set his sights on being the best and would never stop. His story is one that we have all heard and celebrated many times. Races are run in this man’s honor, track clubs are named for him, he even has movies about his life and running career, both of which ended far too soon. Having only lived to the age of 24, Steve Prefontaine grew from small town kid who discovered a love for running, to an internationally renowned running phenomenon.

“A race is a work of art people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding” is one of many, many quotes from Pre. Another of these, probably the most famous quote of his, is “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”. This quote can be read on T-shirts, bags, shoes, shorts, sweats, Facebook pages, literally anything that can be attached to a runner, track athlete, cross country athlete, coaches, etc. “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”; Straight from the mind of Steve Prefontaine and he put those words into action every single time he ran. Pre was known for his talent, but more so, his will, determination, and guts to go out into a race and run his heart out.

Prefontaine attended Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, where set a national high school record in the two mile, and went on to break 19 more national high school records in track. At one point in his short life, Pre held the U.S. records in every long distance event from the 2k to the 10k. He truly is an inspiration to runners of any background, demographic, age, gender, any runner or athlete or person period. Pre inspires us still to this day because of his will, determination, guts, and his drive to be the absolute best. He is the epitome of never giving up, reaching for your goals, and breaking through that proverbial wall and running through the pain. Pre painted us all a picture to tell us that when you set your mind to something, you reach deep down within yourself and find the strength to make it happen.

Now as I told you all, Lane 1 in My Track Heroes is being shared with Pre. But who could possibly stand next to Pre in a ranking of track & field heroes and legends? Who else can even come close to being as monumental as him? Let me tell you who…

Also in lane 1, the ultimate heroes of the running world, are all of YOU. That’s right ladies and gentleman. Each and every one of you are at the pinnacle of my list of track & field, cross country, and running heroes. I applaud each and every one of you everyday for being so passionate about an amazing sport, which unfortunately takes the backseat to others much of the time. You are all heroes for going out there and running, jumping, or throwing even when the training can be absolutely draining or painful. Thank you all for being crazy and continuing what you do even when others say, “How can you possibly enjoy running as a sport?” or “All you do is throw something?” or “You just have to jump as high or as far as you can? That sounds easy.” When these things are said, we just shrug and answer by putting ourselves through more demanding training sessions than those people could even imagine. It is all of us in RUNNER NATION or JUMPER NATION or THROWER NATION who make the sports of track & field and cross country the insanely fun and passionate sports that they are today. Whether you are an elite, amateur, high school, collegiate, youth, or any kind of athlete, you are making this sport possible. It is all of the runners, throwers, jumpers, officials, coaches, athletic trainers, and just straight up running enthusiasts who make our sports what they are today. So keep on running, jumping, and throwing, because honestly, there is no way anyone will be able to make you stop.

There it is folks. The final segment of My Track Heroes series is complete. Thank you all for reading and I have thoroughly enjoyed taking a closer look at some of my favorite athletes from my favorite sports of all time. It was difficult for me to choose this list because as I said, every track & field and cross country athlete, and runner in general are a hero of mine. Next week will be a special edition of My Track Heroes in memory of a young man and runner who touched the lives of not only myself, but an entire community as well who will forever be missed. Join me next week for My Track Heroes: A Memorial…

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