Here is the deal with Steve Prefontaine: he is no longer with us. “He is no longer with us” is a pretty banal way to classify death. Sometimes at brunch, my buddy gets up to go to the bathroom and, for the next few minutes, he is no longer with us. I’m not comparing Pre’s death to my friend’s overactive bladder, what I’m doing is grabbing your undivided attention while I set out on a noble quest to FIND THE NEXT PRE.
Now that we have gone through that little two-step, let’s begin.
This exercise hinges on pinpointing the exact qualities that made Pre a cultural zeitgeist, while also providing the sticking power which lead to his current title as: transcendent icon. But maybe I’m wrong? Actually I probably am wrong. I’m wrong a lot. I think I’m wrong because culturally the running world has shifted from placing value on honest mustaches, being from small towns, and providing inspirational quotes for mostly bad tattoos to a culture gravitating towards memes, dabbing, and shoes with a lot of foam. The entirety of this retrograde can be blamed on Twitter.
What I’m really looking for is the CURRENT PRE. As our landscape exists today, I’m not sure the NEXT PRE could ever be re-created or found. Pre was the golden boy for an American running boom, a burgeoning sports equipment brand, and he lived in an age where young men were drinking enough cow milk to create the testosterone needed to grow some real facial fur. Nowadays, our heroes are practically-hairless-almond-milk-drinking-manboys. Pre’s existence was serendipitously aligned with the necessary occurrences to not only create a legend during his heyday, but to cement himself in the annals of track and field lore forever. There will never be another Pre – because he is dead – but perhaps the current Pre is out there right now, tweeting a dank meme, and lacing up some stupid shoes.
Below are the necessary criteria to be considered the CURRENT PRE.
Must have a physical feature people find fascinating 40 years after you’ve died
Pre’s mustache remains iconic. You slap a mustache on a balloon and thousands of high school runners would tell you the balloon is now Pre, and Pre is now a balloon. It’s a transcendent symbol for the man. But were mustaches as revered back then as they are now? I doubt it. Seems like everyone had a caterpillar growing on their lip back then. In fact, if you didn’t, you probably were ostracized. And rightly so. Like a fine Franzia Cab Sav, the 1970’s mustaches ages with panache and dignity.
What do we have now that seems normal, but will grow in appreciation as the years pass? Lately, men have been doing some really terrible things with their hair. The manbun, while I assume still popular in certain EDM-circles and weight rooms, seems to have fizzled out nicely. The depression-era hardpart has made a nice resurgence among millennials, and the cyclical nature leads me to believe it will still be around in a few decades.
Neither of these are comparable to the mustache, though.
You know what is? The femalebun. This is the first hint that the CURRENT PRE may in fact not have a penis. Alexi Pappas has inspired hordes of females to not only run with buns, but to write poetry about the nuances of how their buns make them feel. Manbuns incite hate, femalebuns incite art.
Must be adept at the internet while possessing strong knowledge of current trends and eagerness to actively interact with brands and consumers.
I can neither confirm nor deny Kyle Merber is trending towards CURRENT PRE status.
Must be fast.
This criterion remains unchanged from Pre’s day. Simply put, being fast is better than being slow. The whole tortoise and hare thing is bullshit. If you want to be put on a pedestal, you really need to be winning races while running fast. This is the only caveat to transcendence that will stay constant until humans decide putting so much time, effort, and care into running is silly and we really should put the time, effort, care into figuring out how to keep our planet from becoming a barbeque briquette.
Must have famous family.
All our current day stars have famous family members. For every Matt Centrowitz Junior, there’s a Matt Centrowitz Senior providing genetics. Drake’s dad is famous because millions of people find his son’s constant whining to be musically appealing. That baby over in the U.K. is famous because his parent’s are famous and their parents are famous. It’s like nepotism, I think. Like I alluded to earlier, I’m wrong a lot. But I’m not wrong about this. To be relevant in our present world, some family members better have paved the way for you.
Must wear silly shoes.
The name of the game in shoes these days? Silly. Companies are slowly realizing how nice it is to run in comfortable shoes. They saw the writing on the bathroom stall wall and the scribbles read “STANLEY WANTS MORE FOAM IN HIS SHOES.” All-caps brand HOKE ONE ONE came hard with the heel lifts, only to see Nike develop their tech even further to help perpetuate the notion shoes make you faster. The CURRENT PRE isn’t jogging around in some normal looking New Balance, the runner we’re after is pounding the pavement in some marshmallows with laces.
The CURRENT PRE is a world-class, bun-wearing female, who is good at the internets, has a family member who has done something either illegal or courageous to bring fame to their surname, and looks like the Michelin man from the ankle below.