When Brendan Dowling immersed himself in Steve Prefontaineism by dressing, thinking, and acting like him, he had no idea he’d start running like him.
Steve Prefontaine, considered by many the most talented American runner ever, ran in only one Olympic Games. He died in a 1975 car crash at age 24.
Dowling, a recreational runner who considers Prefontaine his idol, styled his hair like Pre, bought an Oregon track outfit, and lived his life as if he were Pre in honor of the running legend.
It didn’t take long for Dowling’s running to improve remarkably. He was able to run much faster in workouts. His race times began approaching Olympic standards. He was invited to major meets, and like Pre, won over the crowd, as well as the race. His best times became amazingly similar to Pre’s. Below is a comparison.
Dowling before becoming Pre Prefontaine Dowling after becoming Pre
10,000m Too far to run 27:46.6 27:45.8
5,000m 21:43 13:21.8 13:21.2
Mile 6:18 3:54.6 3:54.9
Olympics Watched on TV 5000m-4th place 5000m-4th place
But alas, after his 4th place Olympic finish in the 2012 games, Dowling let slip how his superb running performance was caused by adopting Steve Prefontaine’s identity. Other runners immediately jumped on the bandwagon.
Dowling’s performance immediately nosedived. Still much better runners than before, Dowling and all the copycats could not approach Pre’s times because too many people were channeling his immense talent and diluting it.
Saddened by his status of former running star, Dowling hopes that the next running superstar to emerge will just happen to look almost exactly like himself.