Prefontaine is an embodiment of everything I know and love about running. The one place I believe I learned most about life and running was when I attended Steens Mountain Running Camp. I hated it at first, but it taught me a lot about determination.
“A lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.”
One of my most memorable moments at Steens was during my second year on what’s known as the Big Day. The year prior, I wasn’t able to finish, but that year, I was adamant that I would finish. The 28 mile excursions took us through canyons and rivers and a lot of steep hills, and the worst is the last mile, at the end of the day when you are tired and sore, you have this cliff to scale to get to the top where Harland, the camp director and one of the most inspiring men in the world, waits to give you a lemon drop. That fateful day though, I was low on electrolytes so my legs cramped and seized up going up that cliff. The last mile took me over an hour to trek, but I finished what I had started, even though I was the last one out of the canyon. That’s when I learned why running is so great. Because you don’t need to be fast to win the day, because the champion is determined by who pushes the hardest. On my last day at Steens when Harland was telling the camp about the four year campers, he shakes my hand, looks me in the eyes and chuckles before he speaks, “Tyler Wiprud. When I first saw him here I thought “What was this kid thinking coming to this camp?” And year after year he was here. I believe he has learned the most from Big Day”. He was referring to how that time in the canyon being wrought with pain allowed me to learn many valuable lessons. That it is the most determined who wins, and that will take me far past just running. I believe that is what Pre means in this quote, that you race to learn about determination and hard work. Valuable skills in running and life.