Investigation“The Nike Saga” (2/5). In the early 1970s, runner Steve Prefontaine helped popularize running as a brand ambassador. The American who trumpets America’s achievements wears company clothes and goes to athletic meets.
In December 1962, when he visited New Zealand at the invitation of a coaching friend, University of Oregon star coach Bill Bowerman couldn’t believe his eyes. In Auckland, people of all ages have fun in the parks and on short walks. Running in the city, nobody does that in America! It is completely irrelevant in the urban world where the automobile already occupies all the space. His host asserts: “You have to try, it’s good for the heart. » As the 50-year-old convinces himself, he is overcome by an unpleasant feeling: after a few hundred meters, he, ex-soldier, coach of champions, is already struggling. Everyone passes him by except a friendly Septuagint who waits for him. A month later, he is transferred. Running is the future. Who knows, the sneakers may even make their way out of stadiums and reach larger audiences.
Back home, Bowerman picks up the pen. “Jogging is a bit more than walkingHe explains in a speech published by the Oregon Heart Foundation and Portland American National Bank. Start running short distances and then gradually increase it. Run until you’re out of breath, then walk to regain normal breathing. Repeat the effort until you cover two or three kilometers. » He publishes an invitation in the local newspaper: “Sunday, come and run. About 200 people arrive, then 300, then 1,500. He was surprised but not discouraged by this success.
In collaboration with a cardiologist, he wrote a book full of advice. Jogging (Grosset & Dunlap, 1967, not translated). It was a huge bookstore hit, selling over a million copies, and a statement on the origins of jogging fashion, which would take over an entire swath of American youth. “We heard some insults at times, but we knew what we were doing. We felt like we were going in the right direction.Remembers future marathoner Phil Rodgers.
Ambassador $5,000 per year
This event was already taken on a large scale in Eugene (Oregon) at a young age runner Those who are said to be gifted. Steve Prefontaine was born in Goose Bay, a small coastal town in the state, to a Canadian father and a German mother. It is a ball of energy and charm, “A long-distance runner in a runner’s body”, says Steve Pence, one of his former classmates. Bill Bowerman, who won a medal in Munich in 1972, dreams of becoming an Olympian.
76.27% of this article you should read. The following is for subscribers only.