Happy Birthday in Heaven, “Pre”

Jan. 25, 2022 — Never did I ever think this rather little-known (in Japan) American runner who some people even think is just a product of marketing scheme of a giant sporting good manufacturer ended up giving me this late stage in my life such inspiration to kick my butt to just get out and run!! Last Sunday, it was 0F degree — actually not too bad for Minnesota standard… — but you can feel moisture in the air; that damp coldness…the kind of condition I hate! I had to go shopping and, when I came back, I said to my wife: “Okay, I’m going for a run right now; otherwise, I would talk myself out of it!!” While driving home, I was thinking about my friend, Linda, told me of her brother, Steve Prefontaine: “My brother (Pre) would have thought nothing of it. He was training all the time, rain or shine…”. Okay, then!! I had to quickly put 4 layers of clothes on and get out before I actually would talk myself out of it!! I ended up running for 1:30 and literally chill to the bone afterwards! But satisfied.

Lydiard didn’t care too much for “exam” for coach certification. “You can’t grade motivation,” he said. “Coaches are motivators.” John Davies used to say: “After 15-minutes of talking to Arthur, all you want to do is to put your running shoes on and get out and run!” That skill to inspire people was Arthur Lydiard’s talent. “The essence of athletics is the pleasure you can get out of it,” Lydiard said in his classic book, “Run to the Top”. “I actually came to enjoy knocking myself about because I came to grips with myself so frequently and at such a challenging physical and mental level…” (p46). In the wonderfully put-together documentary of Steve Prefontaine, “Fire on the Track”, he said the number one reason why he ran is because of “enjoyment” (about 52:30 into this). Recently I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of similarities between Arthur Lydiard and Steve Prefontaine.

At the very end of this documentary (57:17), this guy reminiscent and put it this way:

“When is the last time you really did your best and you got through and said ‘God, I did my best…’. That’s Steve Prefontaine. He got on the track, he did his best…, every time, every day…. He showed up everyday, he worked out everyday…. And the result was: he was the best there was. What a message…”

That message IS his legacy. At least, it still lives on in me now. So thanks for that inspiration, Pre! Happy Birthday in Heaven. — Nobby Hashizume

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