Steve Prefontaine

International Track Star - Running Legend

2010 Rachel Ledig
Bandon High School

An Essay by Rachel Ledig

Before the summer of 2003 I had never dreamed my future would include the sport of running. As a child I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii, which meant that 90 degree days with 99% humidity was the norm. Any sport that didn't involve more than half of your body immersed in cool saltwater was completely out of the question. However, on the 4th of July in 6th grade I moved to Bandon, Oregon, just south of where the great Steve Prefontaine grew up. My first day at school that September was difficult, I knew no one, and barely said a word. That afternoon my mother was late to pick me up, an event which unknowingly altered my life forever. While waiting on the bench outside of my classroom a couple girls in my grade ran by, carrying muddy, running shoes and grinning from ear to ear. I asked them where they were going and they replied that they were going on a Puddle Run. Confused, I asked them to clarify. They stared at me for a couple seconds then replied, "If you come with us you'll find out!!!" I called my mother and asked her to me to bring me some shorts and a pair of sneakers; I was going to cross country practice.

From that day forward I was hooked, running was like a drug, and I could never get enough. I realized that I wasn't half bad and decided that I wanted to pursue the sport as I got older. But with age came pressure. The pressure to get better, to get faster, to get stronger, tougher and smarter. Injury, stress, social conflicts, and plateaus have almost driven me to the edge many times. But, just before I decide to throw in the towel I remind myself that I love what I do, and just because things seem like they can't get any worse, I have a gift that I wouldn't trade for the world.

The legend Steve Prefontaine knew what he was talking about when he said, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." So some days when I am frustrated with my results or my knee is bugging me I think to myself that eventually things will improve and because of this I will grow as a person, as long as I stick it out and try my best.