Nike, Pre Montreal Racer

Having taken delivery of one of the finest pairs of trainers I have owned in recent years, I felt compelled to look into the name and history behind this enigmatic trainer, namely the Nike ‘Pre’ Montreal Racer.  It seems the ‘Pre’ in the name is something of a legend, a ‘James Dean of the running world’ no less.  Steve Roland “Pre” Prefontaine was without a doubt one of the greatest middle and long distance runners of all time, a man who could not only make a moustache look cool but also at one point held the American record in all 7 distance track events. He also, in no small way helped to fuel the intense buzz growing around the burgeoning 1970s jogging scene. Born in 1951 in Coos bay in Oregon, Pre’s running prowess came to the attention of Bill Bowerman who promised to make him ‘the world’s greatest distance runner’ provided he enrolled at Oregon college, close to Bill and Phil’s (soon-to-be-called) Nike HQ. Effectively becoming the third ever employee of one of the worlds most popular brands and in 1973 became the inspiration for their first ever signature running shoe. The aforementioned “Pre Montreal” made specifically for Pre to go for Gold in the forthcoming Canadian Olympics. Though tragically Pre didn’t get his moment(s) of global victory on the podium at the Montreal games. On May 30, 1975, returning home from a party, Steve was driving down Skyline Boulevard, east of the University of Oregon campus when, for unknown reasons, his  convertible swerved into a rock wall and flipped, resulting in his eventual passing away at the unjustly young age of 24. The shockwaves of this huge loss was felt not just across the athletics community but throughout the whole of America whose feelings of sadness and loss seemed to best summed up by Rick Riley’s quote that “The magic was gone forever.”  Fortunately for us, there is still a piece of magic left behind by Steve, by way of these fine looking Nike re-issues that bear his name and are currently on my feet for the foreseeable future. It’s amazing what you can learn from a good-looking pair of trainers isn’t it? RIP Steve.

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