Track fans make pilgrimage to Pre's Rock

Track fans make pilgrimage to Pre's Rock

EUGENE, Ore. -- Dale Bradley should be working right now.

Instead, the Colorado-resident is hiking up a hill to see a rock.

It's not just any rock.

It's the rock where his hero, Steve Prefontaine, died.

"Pre was just about four years older than me, so I grew up in that era and was a big fan of Steve," said Bradley.

Bradley and Pre were close in age - and in attitude.

"I like to think I'm an independent thinker like he is, doing my own thing, been that way most of my life," said Bradley. "So he was a real inspiration to not just runners but to anybody who likes to think that way."

Bradley still remembers when he heard Pre was dead after a crash on this very turn on Skyline Boulevard.

"For me it was equivalent to some people when John F. Kennedy got shot," said Bradley. "It was a similar feeling."

Bradley isn't alone. Pre's rock has become a must-see monument for track fans visiting TrackTown for the 2012 Olympic trials.

"The runners in Ottawa all talk about Steve Prefontaine," said Bruce Armstrong. "They say it's one of the great places to visit if you are ever in Eugene is to come to the memorial site of where tragically he died. He had a lot to be proud of in his life and sadly it was cut off too short."

The birds chirping around him, Bradley took a deep breath, touched the wall and kept walking with his hero in his heart and at his heels.