Those who have seen Steve Prefontaine run, whether in person or on video, know why 'Pre' was different. It was not the times he achieved or the greatness of his successes that made him legendary; it was the way he ran. One of Pre's most prominent quotes is "a lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts." In my own running experiences, I strive to cherish and apply this attitude.
Four years ago, I dreamed of a future in athletics. I participated in both track and cross country, developed a passion for running, aspired for an athletic scholarship, and devoted every hour I had to improving my athletic ability. When I injured my hip my freshman year, it hurt more than just my athletic career; it tore apart my future. I continued to compete despite my lack of achievement, but found myself
frustrated and even resentful towards running. It took me the next two years before I realized there was more to running than just physical performance.
To me, running isn't just about winning. As captain of both cross country and track teams, I have a respect for all ability levels. My heart fills with pride as I see my teammates run with pure guts. I watch my best friend win the state cross country meet and yet I feel just as proud of the freshman girls finishing a hard workout. The success of a race is not determined by the one who crosses the finish line first. Yes, that individual might receive a gold medal, however, it is the determined and desperate one, the runner with sweat pouring down their body and a grimace on their face, the one who has been through hell to simply compete that day, they are the one with the most guts.
A few months ago, I tore my hamstring. At the start of my senior track season, I find myself broken. But despite my injured body, my heart remains strong. I do not believe Pre ever referred to his successes when talking about running; he challenged his peers and himself to push beyond physical pain and run with pure guts. It is guts that will push me through the rest of my track season; it is guts that will keep me running every day; and although my body will fail me in years to come, my heart will run on forever.