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Pre: The Story of America's Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine
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Pre: The Story of America's Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,040 ratings  ·  158 reviews
For five years, no American runner could beat him at any distance over a mile. But at the age of 24, with his best years still ahead, long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine finally lost. Driving alone at night after a party, Prefontaine crashed his sports car, putting a tragic, shocking end to the life and career of one of the most influential, accomplished runners of our ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 15th 1997 by Rodale Books (first published January 1st 1977)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  3,040 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book has a lot of problems. Let's begin with the first one -- it's poorly written.

I went into this book very excited -- I love running. Prefontaine is a huge inspiration. But the details of his life and character are very flimsy -- the author doesn't even include one interview from Pre's family or key head coaches -- a very telling omission. Instead, we are stuck getting bombarded with times, a few rivalries that don't seem to amoung to much and are interchangeable as we learn so little
Apr 22, 2007 rated it it was ok
It seems to me that Steve Prefontaine merits a high quality biography. His story is the stuff of legends, so much so that high school cross-country kids wear "Pre Lives" shirts from Nike not fully aware of who the guy is. For five years, Pre remained undefeated in the U.S. at any distance over one mile. He ran two 10K races. In the first, he set the American record. He never won on the biggest international stage, the Olympics, but he had the unfortunate timing of being at Munich and he died ...more
Jeremy Costello
Aug 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book was terribly disappointing. The book could have been written by a computer. It was just a jumble of times, records, and slight commentary in between. Hardly anything was written about besides Pre's accomplishments on the track. I didn't get a sense of Pre the person, who he was off the track, which is what is usually included in a biography. Childhood, a fascinating period in any legend's life, was covered in a few references to records broken on the track and in cross country. Pre ...more
Susan Jane
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If youre looking for a book that will give a detailed account of Pres accomplishments with running, this is the book for you. If youre looking for a book to know more about Pre outside of running, this isnt for you. This book gives a great account of each of Pres races and some of his personality traits. Its a great resource for race to race details. It was a great book to help me get to know a memorable distance runner a little bit better. ...more
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This little book accomplished what the author set out to do, that is to provide a glimpse into the life and running career of Steve Prefonaine. It's a tale of triumph and tragedy, ending like no fictional story ever would. That's the problem with real life; sometimes the endings suck.

I remember learning about Prefontaine's death. I was mad at him for months because he died late at night while driving drunk. Ever since his gutsy run at the Munich Olympics I had been looking forward to see what he
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
You want inspirationread this book. Steve Prefontaine or as fans call him Pre was one of the most famous athletes of the early 1970s and well on his way to becoming more than an athlete but an activist who would made a real impact on the world before his untimely death just prior to the summer games of 1974. Trust me read this book and youll become a Pre fan, a Pre historian, & youll lace up your shoes and want to go on a jog. Ill leave you with his quote, that will make you want to pick up ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This is such a great story that I remember growing up with and hearing about from my coaches. I remember watching the movie and thinking about how fascinating Pre was. Unfortunately, for me, I felt like this book was kind of all over the place and focused too much on individual events. Would have liked to hear a little bit more about Pre as a person and have some more closure to the ending.
Thomas Kinservik
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Seems like a missed opportunity. Pre had a fascinating personality and life, but this book is extremely dry. Unless one is merely looking for a wikipedia-style recap of his race times, this is a disapointment.
Chris Earley
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely awesome chronicle of his life
Angela Hansen
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
What an incredible person. I've always been fascinated by Steve Prefontaine. After reading the book I am even more fascinated by him. His story is so great, an underdog from Coos Bay Oregon. He was an incredible runner, and it was because he gave 120 percent to everything he did. And the people of Oregon loved him for it. Thousands of people would show up at the University of Oregon to watch him run. He called his fans his people, and he did everything he could not to let them down. He was an ...more
Jimmy Scharpf
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Definitive (really only) biography of Steve Prefontaine. An inspirational figure whose life was cut short in a controversial car crash after a night of partying. He brought a new style to running that led a boom of popularity across the US and took down the AAU which had been mistreating athletes for years. The book, however, disappoints. Pre is a true hero of mine so I was unhappy to find out this very short read was basically laced with facts you could find anywhere on the internet and mostly ...more
Andrew Duenez
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When I first picked up this book I couldn't put it down. At the time it was a first for me. Way better than the movies about him. This man wanted to race the best because he believed down to his bones that he had more guts than anyone on the track to win. By racing the best, he made himself better.

amazing book.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biog, oregon, 1990s, sports
Have 1950s HS track memory of running on U of O's great track, "hitting the wall" on Hayward Field.
Among my sports heroes: the milers ... Prefontaine ...
Learned from, appreciated Jordon's book.
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, bio-s
What an exceptional bio! A very impactful too short life!
Pat (AZ Realtor) 480-840-7166
A tragic biography of a world class runner cut down in the prime of his life. I love all things PRE! Read the book then read Bowerman and the Men of Oregon. Then watch Without Limits and Prefontaine.
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book read like an over-long, uninspired AP article. Jordan did a great job of sticking to the facts, but I was hoping for backstory instead of just a rundown of his athletic achievements.
Willie O
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
My all time running hero! Brought back great memories of wanting to run like PRE.
Henry Tierney
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing

In PRE, Americas Greatest Running Legend, author Tom Jordan breaks down the prodigious of the late American running phenomenon Steve Prefontaine. In the 1970s Tom Jordan was a writer for Track and Field News and was intrigued by Prefontaine, setting him on the path to eventually write this famed biography on Steve. Tom expresses that his initial goals for this biography was to solely focus on Prefontaine as a runner and a legend, but he found it impossible to fulfill his story without including
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have always known about Pre, and have seen the movies. The only word that describes him after reading this book is WOW! I have never heard of another athlete with his tenacity and mental toughness, and my guess is that it would be hard to find someone to match him. What he put himself through and the level he maintained for so long is astonishing.

The only other athlete that I can compare his toughness to is Lance Armstrong. His drug taking aside, Armstrong trained with the same tenacity as
Bobby Jones
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I've heard people talk about Steve Prefontaine but I'd never read his story. "Pre: The Story of America's Greatest Running Legend" is filled with lots of Pre's statistics, names of other runners and races he ran. What it lacks is much biographical information about the person. And maybe that is because Steve Prefontaine was loved by many but known by few.

I do feel like I've taken a glimpse into his life. I loved hearing the stories of his intense training, mental preparation, "running your guts
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
i moderately enjoyed this book. as a runner, i definitely noticed, and related to the struggle of running represnted throughout the book. i can see it being an inspiration to other runners who don't think they can accomplish there goals of running, whether it be running for fun or a lifetime of running for medals. this book was written in a way easily understood with minimal parts causing confusion. if youre looking for a book about the strength and passion.
G Kahuna
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this in preparation for running the marathon in Eugene, OR. The race finishes at Hayward Field. With that and a visit to Pre's rock, my trip was complete. This is probably not a good casual read as it is mainly details about racing and Pre's strategy and training. He died so young there really isn't all that much about his personal life. Another tragedy - he died way too young.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Quick read, good information, but not told in a terribly compelling way. Sure, I know how it ends, but the writer could still attempt to invoke a little emotion. Reading about Pre still gets to me, either way, and I enjoyed getting a more statistical approach to how his track and cross country career unfolded. It felt like more of a reference book about his races. I'll leave it at that.
Daniel Pires
Quick read, interesting on Pre's personality, but a lot on the start on times and accomplishments focused on America. Pre "woke up" to the world of running outside America late in the book, that could be explored more, but after all, great person and great read for a spark in your daily tasks.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

What a runner. Kind of haunting. Didn't even reach his peak. Maybe another four of five great years of running let alone everything else he could have done.

Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quick read about a great running legend that shed light on who he was outside of running, as well. IT definitely insipres me to run more.

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift." -Pre
Chris Wares
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Id never heard of Steve Prefontaine before Im embarrassed to say but was lent this book by a friend who , like me is a keen runner

Its an interesting story but being written in the third person it lacks something of the other books Ive read about running
Aaron Lowery
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not a lot of meat to this biography. At times read more like a Wikipedia entry with its heavy reliance on statistics and run times. A man of Steve Prefontaines stature deserves a richer, fuller biography. ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this in one night so yeah I guess you could say I enjoyed it
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this as a teenager because Steve Prefontaine is someone who always inspired me. I re-read this recently and still love his story.
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What do you think about this book? 3 17 Jun 11, 2012 12:49PM  

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