Chris Uggen's Blog: inspiration

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


with the twin cities marathon gaining on me rapidly (is it september already?), i was in the market for some weekend inspiration. so i rented prefontaine on sunday, which isn't bad for a sports movie where you know the ending. and the middle. and the start. still, it's a ripping yarn. a legendary icon, the hypercompetitive steve prefontaine (at left with coach bill bowerman) is the james dean of american runners.

i had a strong and inexplicable impulse to book an immediate flight to eugene, so that i could run a few laps hard at the u. of oregon's hayward field. either that, or i could go for a PR in the prefontaine memorial 10k next sunday in the icon's hometown of coos bay.

mr. prefontaine made some bold statements about running, some of which i still cite on my quotes page. wanting to see the real non-fictionalized deal, i located a few youtube clips of mr. prefontaine at hayward as a freshman and, later, in los angeles to tackle some tough milers ("rubbing the specialists' noses in it") on their own turf. these were cool, but didn't move me. so i checked out a couple modern-day milers, hicham el guerrouj and high-school prodigy alan webb. those dudes are scary fast, but (again) too smooth for me.

i was about to give up, when i came across this old clip of billy mills in the 1964 olympic 10,000 meters.* next time you run a 10k, just try to kick like ol' mr. mills when you see the finish line. i'll be thinking of mr. mills when i run on october 1. he's bumped hard off the track, boxed in on the last lap, and yet somehow found strength enough to finish the 10k like a sprinter. an oglala lakota (sioux), orphaned at 12 and raised on the pine ridge reservation, mr. mills is the national spokesperson for running strong, an organization that's all about inspiration.
* if the youtube clip is too grainy, try this one.


At 7:08 AM, Blogger jeremy said...

I've also had this urge to catch a flight to Eugene, but that's mainly so I could blog once from Oregon.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous chris said...

jeremy, it is a beautiful part of the world and well worth the trip... maybe some of that hayward field magic would rub off on both of us.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Great video - wow. Is he someone you knew before this?

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous chris said...

glad you're feeling it, jeff. it looks like pure will on that one. i'd heard of mr. mills, but knew more about the australian favorite in the race, ron clarke (my antipodean buddy gray willie has shared a few stories). the robby benson movie running brave evidently didn't do justice to the subject of mr. mills' life.


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