“Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run.” – Steve Prefontaine
The track at Marshfield High School was Steve Prefontaine’s canvas; his running was his artistic expression. Each race was a new painting, a new poem, a new song, and each expressed his passion. His passion was expressed in his races. The way he ran, his inspiring words, and his desire to succeed and be all he could created a masterpiece, similar to that of Van Gough or Picasso, but in a different form. Other people leave their passion behind in paintings or songs but Steve Prefontaine left his passion for all to see when he ran, and it continues on today in his legacy. Did he realize at that time how many young people he would inspire to attain their goals?
Steve Prefontaine knew, without a doubt, that crossing the finish line was not just the end of a race, but a door opening for the next competition–a new race, a new cheering crowd, a new canvas. He would dream dreams that others would not dare and knew that only his dedicated work would carry him to success. This was his magnificent expression. This was artwork of the highest caliber. It survives to this day to motivate young people to achieve their goals, just as he achieved his.
Steve knew it was not about the race he ran, but the fortitude he used to achieve his goal. He did not use his teammates as a crutch but instead admired them for their accomplishments. Steve knew that part of the artwork he created when he ran came from the support of his family. He knew that his masterpiece would not be complete if he was the only person in the portrait.
As I stand alone in Pete Susick Stadium on the Prefontaine Track, I can’t help but envision Steve finishing his race and leaving the final brush strokes on his artwork. I hope that one day I can look back on my experience as a track athlete and know that people were able to see the artwork I created with each jump. I hope that my masterpieces include all the people that helped me down this long hard road.
Although I am less than likely to be an inspiration to track athletes everywhere, I know that I was able to follow in Prefontaine’s footsteps, if only on a smaller scale. I know that those who watched me pole vault could see my love and my passion as it poured down the runway, because each jump was about the love for the sport, not any glory that could possibly come from it.