Morning Song

“Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, “I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.” It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.”  - Pre Fontaine

An entry by Ruthie Dineen

The fourth concert of the tour was in Eugene, Oregon. I was looking forward to Seattle, to Portland, to Bend, and lukewarm about Eugene. I didn’t know very much about Eugene, except that the University of Oregon is located there, and CAL is my alma mater, both in the PAC 10… so… you know… lukewarm at best.

When we arrived in our tour van we were hungry, some of us a bit tired, and the crowd was slim at the Jazz Station, at first. But as we started the first set the music flowed, the audience reacted, the room sounded amazing, the band was present, we were connected. And next door there was a Kava bar with amazing black bean soup!  The town was definitely growing on me.

During our set break I started chatting with the sound engineer. We talked about the Jazz Station, how it is funded (a non-profit) and how it’s maintained through volunteers – all very cool. He looked like a runner, so I asked him – “Where’s a good place to go for a run tomorrow morning?” He gave me a surprised look and then said, “Don’t you know this is running country! There’s so many places to go. And, it’s the home of Pre Fontaine.” I got excited!

Growing up, my father was a firefighting marathon runner. I grew up reading Runner’s World, the magazines were all over the house. You could find one in each room! And Pre Fontaine is the hero of Runner’s World.  Steve Roland “Pre” Prefontaine – born in 1951 in Eugene, a bit of a hippie, once held the American record in seven different distance track events from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters, who died tragically at the age of 24 as a result of a car crash in Eugene. So of course I knew of the legend of Pre Fontaine, but had never really connected with it personally.

So the next day I took the sound engineer’s advice and went for a run on Pre’s Trail, the trail he used to run on regularly. It was idyllic. Pastoral, the river running strong, clear crisp air, damp ground, still wind, with views of the mountains. And beds of red, yellow, and orange fallen leaves. While running I thought about Pre. Who he was, what he stood for, where he came from, the excellence that he represented. I thought about music, why we play, what we strive for. I thought about our concert the night before, and how well we played – connected, pushing each other to the limits, how present we were.  The quiet, the openness, the internal and external conditions, our deep ability to be creative – all the same things that I think Pre must have thought of, in this same town, on this same trail.

Running, music, art, life.