After my first day of medical school in the fall of 2015, I made my way to what would soon become my second home for the next couple of years —a study space we called the Blue Room. It was ratty and rundown, with a row of desks and cubicles under dim lighting and in near-constant dead silence. At the end of my usual row of cubicles, the wall featured a poster of Steve Prefontaine racing at Hayward Field, emblazoned with one of his famous quotes: "I'm going to work so that it's a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it."
The legacy of Pre is familiar to many, and he may be as popular an American runner as there ever has been. His dominance on the track was one thing—the Oregon native, Nike's first paid professional athlete, reached 7 different American records, ranging from the 2000 to 10,000 meter distances. His characteristic 'stache and long hair live on as symbols of grit and greatness. And his style, unlike that of many runners, was outgoing and energetic, making Pre the impossibly likable legend running around the track at impossibly fast paces.
At the 1972 track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, at the renowned Hayward Field, Gerry Lindgren arrived sporting a shirt mocking Pre—the famous design of "STOP PRE" inside a red stop sign. Lindgren proved to be weak competition, and Pre shattered the American record at the 3 mile distance at the trials, coming in with a blazing time of 13:22.8. As he crossed the finish line, he snagged the "STOP PRE" shirt and put it on, giving us the iconic shot.
With his unparalleled determination, work ethic, and personality, Pre represents the very best of running. I've found many of his words and much of his spirit applicable not only to my training but to my everyday. The quote I saw on a daily basis on med school has become a life mantra of mine, whether I'm pounding pavement or learning in the classroom. Pre taught me that greatness can be achieved when I pursue my goals with unwavering passion and relentless drive.
Bakline's "STOP ME" shirt, inspired by this great athlete's life and the iconic original tee, are a fitting way to have a bit of Pre's relentlessness with you every day, on and off the track.