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Steeve Prefontaine

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Number One Steve Bence (me ! ... and others)

I beat Pre at Hayward Field ! (??)

Intersquad Competition,  3/17/1973:   [from my training diary]  "Pre originally was supposed to run a 2000 but he was sore so we weren't sure if he'd run a 3/4, mile, or 2000.  Before the race, the officials asked who would run 2000 an no one raised their hand.  Our first lap was 60, then 2:02, and 3:05.  At the 3/4 I felt great and felt like taking off but I held back since I was afraid I'd die.  With about 185 or so yards I passed Pre and Geis with ease.  My last lap was about 60 with most of that in the last 185.  I don't think they were expecting it.  Paul stayed right on my tail.  Then Pre did another lap to the surprise of everyone.  They didn't get his 2000 time because everyone thought he was running a mile with the rest of us.  When I passed him maybe he decided he didn't want to sprint so he decided to do another lap to make it look good.  Luckily they got his 1 1/4 mile time because one of the officials didn't stop his watch.  My time was 4:05.5 and Paul 4:06.0.  We left for Redding, California by bus at 1:00 for our Spring trip."

1972 Olympic Trials

Dave Wottle (in the hat) went on to win the 1972 Olympic 800 meter gold medal and set a world record.  I (in the Oregon jersey) took 5th in this race and watched from here on.

A very old picture of me from Track & Field News. 

[Track & Field News, II May 1972]  "Latest Oregon distance find Steve Bence has run a 1:49.4 880 as a frosh.

Me taking 6th at the 1972 NCAA finals in Eugene.

Trying to stay warm and relaxed before a race.

Dual meet against UCLA.  Tony Veney, the current Assistant Coach at UCLA, is in the lead.

People in the crowd show that this was in the 70's.


A few pictures of Kenny Moore, Frank Shorter, Steve Bence (me! ... my wife says "shameless self-promotion"), and a glimpse of early Nike history that Pre helped inspire. 

To the left is race that Kenny Moore (in 2nd) jumped into at a WSU dual meet with Pre in the lead.

A picture from an track workout (a miler's type workout for that day) that my mother took when she came to visit. 

From left to right:   

Pre  (Oregon bests of 3:38.1 1500m, 3:54.6 mile)
Knut Kvalheim (Oregon bests of 3:39.0 1500m, 3:57.9 mile)
Steve Bence  (Oregon bests of 1:47.4 800m, 4:02 mile)
Mark Feig (Oregon best of 3:58.5 mile)
Lars Kaupang (Oregon best of 3:59.9 mile).

Frank Shorter (left in both pictures ... a narrator in the movie) and Kenny Moore (right in both pictures ... co-writer and executive producer for the movie) after qualifying for the Olympic marathon team at the 1972 Olympic trials held in Eugene and then after they took 1st and 4th respectively  in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Another Pre picture

A picture that I found with Pre and Geis that I like.

A thrill for me (left)  to share the cover of a program with Pre (right). 

During this time ... Nike was born.  A note about experimental shoes and Bowerman learning from Steve Bence's training diary  dated 11/2/71 ... 

"After 1 1/2 miles my ankle started bothering me real bad.  I was wearing Bowerman's experimental shoes.  I finished running with a slight limp, finished because it was a nice day and felt good without sweats.  The trainer said it was the shoes that caused the pain; not a built up heel (I thought it was that old wrestling injury coming back to haunt me) so Riggs gave me a new pair of shoes with better padding and a built up heel.  I iced down my ankle; actually the muscles just below my left calf around the achilles tendon." 

From an early Nike catalog ... a picture of me (yellow shirt) & intermediate hurdler Paul Wilkinson on the left with Pre in the picture on the right. 

We loved the Cortez for training runs. 

Another note from Steve Bence's training diary dated 11/10/71  ...  "Bowerman had me try some shoes on and I ran a lap.  They felt comfortable and light.  Wouldn't mind using them.  They're from the Japanese company."   (Early Nike work was done with Tiger)


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