Steve Prefontaine

International Track Star - Running Legend

2009 Shelby Paulson  
Marshfield High School    
Oregon State University

An Essay by Shelby Paulson

During cross-country my sixth grade year, the name Steve Prefontaine meant very little to me. I was new to Coos Bay, and new to running. However, I quickly learned how important he is because on the back of my team shirt it said, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift," -Steve Prefontaine.

Prefontaine meant more and more to me as I learned more about him. Partly because of how mentally tough he must have been. My biggest weakness is my lack of confidence. I know I am able to push myself further, but I am not always able to convince myself to do that. Prefontaine's quote is an encouragement to me, and often times I remind myself to keep striving to be the best.

It has also affected me outside of competition. I do not want to just be the best runner I can be, but I also want to be the best student and leader that I am able to be. I am not afraid to tell people to pick up the pace in workouts if they are not benefitting from it, nor am I afraid to take difficult classes. The idea of giving your best isn't just for the athletic field. It is for everything in life. Steve Prefontaine knew this and exhibited this. He pushed himself at practice to be the best, not just at competitions.

I believe that, if not for that unfortunate car accident, Steve Prefontaine would be somewhere coaching athletes today. He would be training them on how to be the best they can, in all aspects. His legacy lives on in more ways than just his inspiration to runners, but in the way he has inspired so many to do all they can with their gifts. This is a legacy the world should not forget, and that is why it means so much to me.