Some individuals are born with the natural ability to excel in sports. Without a doubt, one of these exceptional athletes was Steve “Pre” Prefontaine. From humble beginnings in the small coastal area of Coos Bay, Pre’s talent, determination, and grit took him to unimaginable heights.
Pre and I are alike in that we both ran cross country and track and field. Moreover, Pre and I parallel one another in that I have never been the biggest, strongest, and certainly not the tallest runner on the course, so like Pre, I’ve always had to rely on something greater: guts. Pre made many inspiring statements throughout his life, but one quote particularly resonates with me: “A lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.” This statement epitomizes the discipline of cross country and track and field. Each athlete is seeded prior to their race, but when the gun goes off, none of that matters. Running is a sport of mind over matter. Races aren’t won simply by ranking, but by an athlete’s willingness to push themselves harder and withstand more pain than their competitors. Pre exemplified this quality; each and every race, he left his blood, sweat, and guts out on the course, which allowed him to consistently prevail over his competitors.
Yet even the runner with the most guts cannot win every race. With this quote, Pre is conveying another message: winning isn’t everything. True runners know that success isn’t measured by the number of medals won, but in knowing that you gave your absolute all in a race, and then gave a little bit more. I’ve run many races where I haven’t stood on the podium, but whether it be my racing strategy, my time, or how my teammates performed, I have felt an overall sense of accomplishment and pride.