That Time Pre Came to Charleston
By: Pat Riley
On the evening of May 30th, 1975, Steve Prefontaine (Pictured at the 1973 Charleston Distance run with Jessie Owens) was driving in the hills overlooking the legendary Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon with his friend, Frank Shorter. Steve was dropping Frank off at a friend’s house, where Frank would be spending the night. After dropping Frank off, Steve drop back down the hill. Frank was barely inside the house when the screeching of tires was heard and the dreadful sound of metal hitting rock and a car rolling over on top of one of the fiercest runners that the world has ever seen. On that evening, we lost Steve Prefontaine.
Just a year and a half before his untimely death. Steve Prefontaine made a visit to WV to help with the events at the Charleston Distance Run.
On August 17, 1973, a newspaper in Charleston reported:
“Distance running start Steve Prefontaine has agreed to take part in the Greater Charleston Distance Run on Sept. 1.
Prefontaine notified race organizer Don Cohen Thursday that he would help organize the events, although he doesn’t plan to run.
Race director at the time, Don Cohen commented “We think that sports fans in Charleston will enjoy seeing and talking with well-known distance runners such as Prefontaine whether they run or not”.
Prefontaine took part in the pre-race dinner and met and greeted runners for the event just a year and a half before his death.
Steve Prefontaine went on to help build Blue Ribbon Sports (Which later became Nike).
Also, that year, Jeff Calloway, of the Florida Track Club, ran in the Charleston Distance Run.