Prefontaine (1997) Script

If he can hold this pace, prefontaine will own the ncaa indoor record.

Here are the 5,000 meter final results:

First place with a new American record, Steve prefontaine.

No one within 60 yards as pre wins his 21st straight win.

Pre turned distance running into a blood sport.

You want to know what he meant to folks around here?

What was it the hippie kids used to say back then?

You just had to be there.

We raised Steve the way most folks in coos bay raised their kids.

We just tried to give him the kind of life that we never had growing up.

But Steve was a different kind of kid.

Nine, ten, eleven, twelve...

13, 14, 15...

16, 17, 18...

19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24...

You go first. it's buck's turn. I went first yesterday.

That was off the dinky little bridge.

What's the matter? Are you scared, buck?

What the hell is pre doing?

How'd he get up there?

Go ahead, pre, jump.

Yeah. Go, pre! Shut up!

Come down, pre, before you get yourself killed.

Cool! My God!

Yeah! Yeah! Whoo-hoo!

You ready to play? Yeah!

Okay. Dick's catcher. Bobby, take second.

Jimmy, center field. Buck, you're my pitcher.

Pre. First sub in.

Jeff, third base. Joe, right field.

You'll get in, pre. Let go, buck.

Let's go, guys.

Take the field, boys. Let's go!

Pre did love sports, but...

He was like, four-eight.

He weighed 90 pounds.

He had really shaky hand-eye coordination.

It seemed like the less he got to play, the more he felt he had to prove.

Prefontaine! Kickoff team!

Go get 'em, pre!

Go, pre, go! Go, pre, go!

Once he started running, I guess he never stopped.

Here is Jim ryun, beginning to move up now, this is the race he's been preparing for since he was a high school sophomore.

I'm going to Munich.

Is that so?

The Munich Olympics four years from now? I'm gonna be there.

In Munich? Relax, elfriede.

Let the boy dream.

In Germany? I'm goin' and nobody's gonna stop me.

First it was football, now this.

Getting up at dawn to run before school.

I thought that the neighbors must think...

I'm a crazy German woman to let my son do this.

Keep your speed constant, Ellie.

I had an itch on my gas foot.

He was my first real boyfriend.

He was hot stuff.

Hey, don't kill me, now. Come on.

I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do when I was growing up.

But he knew.

Steve, grab the level and check this for me, will you?

Ray, your son sure kicked that north bend boy's behind last week.

How bad you beat him? Not that bad. Maybe half a lap.

You let him off easy, ray.

Not my son. Okay, Steve. Bring that two by four over here.

Yeah, keep runnin, ' kid, so you don't have to spend your life...

Shaggin' two by fours for your old man.

All right, hold it steady.

We heard about this small kid from coos bay who could run.

A kid we had to see. A real fire-eater.

After he broke all those national high school records, college scouts came like bees to honey. Uh-uh.

Thanks, coach.


Steve tells me you're quite an architect.

No, actually, I'm just a carpenter.

I'll be honest with you, ray.

Architects... They're overrated in my book.

Have you seen Steve's scrapbook?

No, ma'am. Not, uh... not lately.


Hello, again, pre.

Where's bowerman? He sends his apologies. It's hard for him to get away.

To make the trip. Plenty of other head coaches have gotten away.

Steve. He did ask me, though, to, uh... give you a personal letter.

That's all right. I've got milk crates full of 'em.

Come on, son.

Not, uh... like this one.

That's hot off the press.

Dear pre, if you want to come to the university of Oregon, there's no doubt in my mind...

You'll be the greatest distance runner in the world.

Please, don't wrinkle it, Steve.

I want it for the scrapbook.

No more war! No more war!

Hell, no! We won't go! Hell, no! We won't go!

¶ Some folks are born ¶

¶ made to wave the flag ¶

¶ ooh, they're red, white and blue ¶ any question of violence on the university of Oregon campus...

Is in the hands of president Clark and the police department of Eugene.

If they want violence, they will start violence. We will not.

I shall take what action is necessary to end it.

Whether it's disciplinary or police action.

¶ It ain't me it ain't me ¶

¶ Some folks are born silver spoon in hand ¶

¶ But when the tax man comes to the door ¶

¶ now their house looks like a rummage sale ¶

He definitely wasn't what anyone expected.

It's the Beverly hillbillies.

You've gotta remember, back then...

Most of the best distance runners on the team, in the whole country, were these middle-class or upper-class kids.

Hey, guys. Steve prefontaine.

Hey, I'm Mac. Hey, Mac.

Hi. Pat Tyson, your roommate.

I moved in yesterday.

Hi, I'm Ellie. Ellie mae?

No, just Ellie.

Thomas Becker. That's right.

Saw you run that 3:57.4 last summer.

Personal best, right? Yeah.

Man, that was really smokin'. I'm flattered.

I'm going to beat that time this year.

Man, if it wasn't for runnin', I'd be dodging bullets in 'nam instead of training for Munich.

Munich. As in Olympics? Three years from now? Yeah.

The only way I'm getting to Munich is if I buy a plane ticket.

Hey, hey, U.S.A., how many kids did you kill today? Look at this.

They'd be the casualties back in coos bay.

Hey, hey, U.S.A., how many kids did you kill today?


Hey, pre. The sidewalk's over here. Pre!

Hey! Peace.

Do you realize, Ellie, that I've been reading about this place since I was in junior high?

The road to olympic gold.

Track capitol, U.S.A.

The house that bowerman built.

You really know how to sweet-talk a girl.

I'll be coming down that backstretch, burning all eight cylinders, a world record in my hand, blowing past all the competition, the crowd cheering me on.

I'll look up in the stands, and there you'll be.

Yeah, on my way to the bathroom.

You're dead!

I always gotta keep me humble, huh? Mm-hmm.

Which is why I'm gonna have to marry you someday.

Yeah. Someday.

Someday soon.

Did I say what field are we on?

Track capitol, U.S.A.

That's right, you son of a bitch! You'd better drive away!

Last goddamn time you'll clip my box!

Coach bowerman? Don't ever call me "coach".

Had an s.O.B. For a coach.

Still hate that word to this day.

Um, Mr. bowerman.

Or "bill" would be fine.

Come on, rube. Give me a hand here.

I'm, uh... I'm Steve prefontaine.

You don't say, rube.

That's it. Hold it right there.

Now, what are you doin' here?

I heard you wanted to see me.

I mean, what are you doin' here at the university?

Well, you said in your letter you'd make me the best runner in the world.

Letter. You think I wrote you a letter?

That's dynamite.


Just enough to get the bastard's attention.

Hell of a view, wouldn't you say?

Yeah, it's beautiful.

You know, back home I have this... this magazine with a picture of you, and, uh... stay right here.

What are you doing out there? Bill?

Bill! You better not have my new waffle iron!

Go! Go!

Why don't you go set down, and take your shoes and socks off?

So you want to be a miler.

I am a miler.

Funny thing, when I saw you in corvallis, you won the two-mile.

Well, I won the mile as well.

But you set a record in the two-mile.

Give me your foot up here.

I'm going to run a 3:49 here by my junior year.

That's two seconds under ryun's world record.

How you gonna do that, rube?

I'm gonna run three seconds faster every year.

Well, then I guess we'd better get started right away.

Tomorrow, 6:00 A.M., at the track.

You mind if I ask what you're doin'?

No, I don't mind at all.

You son of a bitch!

Have some of that.

6:00 A.M., rube. You ready to run?

I just need a minute. Make sure you're stretched out.

The reason lord Nelson never lost a battle was 'cause he showed up 15 minutes early.

You'll be outta here in less than four.

Can't run without proper shoes.

Jesus, bill. Hell of a pair of shoes.

You run like a prizefighter, rube.

You mad about somethin'?

Am I mad about something?

I only design 'em to last one race. Just fell a lap short with that pair.

What was my time?

4:03, give or take.

Pretty good, pre, without competition.

And without shoes.

You'll be running in the three-mile for the team, rube.

What did you say? Your kick is not fast enough for the mile.

I'll prove you wrong.

Doubtful, rube. Highly doubtful.

Aw, Jesus, bill.

He'll get over it.

The mile was everything back then.

The glamour event of track and field.

Every kid comin' along fool enough to take up this crazy sport...

Wanted to be the next Jim ryun.

Forget Jim ryun, he's done.

I'm gonna be the first Steve prefontaine.

It must be nice to wanna be yourself.

Like I can't run with him? Pre, Becker's the conference mile champ.

Watch it, freshman. There's a no-race policy during practice.

Fine. Don't race me, then.

He's a cocky little mother.

I'd like to bottle it and force-feed it to the rest of you guys.

Wendy ray. Kugn, live.

Calling the last lap of this lively twilight meet mile.

Pre is kicking hard down the homestretch.

Here comes Becker.

It's a battle now between Becker and the freshman phenom.

Ranking senior Thomas Becker wins it, outkicking Steve prefontaine down the stretch.

Don't even say it.

You are a damn fine miler, rube.

I beat him before; I'll beat him again.

Oh, I know you will.

This isn't about beating Becker.

Becker's never gonna be the best, and you won't settle for anything less.

With your gas tank and your guts, you could own the three-mile, make it your goddamn plaything.

Nobody cares about the three-mile.

Why don't you give 'em a reason to care?

Hey, Felix, come here.

Back then, everyone had either dope or beer.

Pre's drug was winning... At everything.

¶ Out here in the field ¶

¶ I fought for my meals ¶ she's beautiful. I love you! I love you!

¶ I don't need to fight ¶

¶ to prove I'm right ¶

¶ I don't need to be forgiven ¶

¶ yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah, yeah, yeah ¶

you're the only person I know who'd buy a gold mg.

What's wrong with a gold mg?

You've got to have a gold medal to go with it.

Soon enough.

He was like a rocket breaking free of the earth's gravity.

Get down here! Nothing could touch him.

Goddamn it! You okay?

Pre is leading the n.C.A.A. Final on a foot with ten stitches in it.

Here comes bjorkland, the defending three-mile champion.

Looks like he smells blood, and dick Berkeley's going with him.

The freshman, Steve prefontaine regains the lead.

Go! Go! Go! Come on!

Steve prefontaine is the three-mile champion...

In one of the most electrifying performances in a long time.

One at a time! One at a time!

Pre, how'd you feel about the race?

If I'd gone out stronger, I could have set an American record today.

You're disappointed? You set an n.C.A.A. Record.

I can run better. A lot better.

But I need better competition to do it.

What about the end? You must have had doubts...

When bjorkland and Berkeley came at you like that.

Never. What, I ran too flat for the last two laps?

Let me tell you something. Nobody... nobody's gonna outkick me.

I gotta go take care of my foot, guys. Thanks a lot.

That was a very impressive performance, rube.

I just ran my race.

I'm talking about the way you ran your mouth.

Pre, you're gonna have every runner in the country looking to gun you down.

Bring 'em on.

¶ I don't need to fight ¶

¶ to prove I'm right ¶

¶ I don't need to be forgiven ¶

¶ yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah ¶ I thought he was, basically, a talented little pissant from the day I met him.

As far as he was concerned, it was like no one else on the team existed.

In the discus circle, Oregon sophomore Mac Wilkins.

Let's go! - All right, Mac!

That's easily the best throw of Wilkins' career.

It's beyond the 190-foot mark. Should qualify him for the olympic trials.

And guess who just entered the field?

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

I started calling him "world", short for "world famous".

That meet, I also won the shot put.

I scored ten total points for the team.

I mean, pre won his race. It was no record time or nothing.

He scored five points.

But did it stop him from running three victory laps?

Or hogging the headlines in the papers the next day?

It didn't matter how many events I won.

He always had to be the man.

¶ If you get down ¶ big Mac!

¶ And you get confused ¶

¶ and you don't remember ¶

¶ who you been talkin' to ¶ route change. Pre...

¶ concentration ¶ a little privacy, please?

Hi. Hi.

I love your stride. Yours isn't too bad, either.

New on campus? I'm a freshman.

What's your name? Nancy alleman.

Steve was nothing like I had expected him to be.

He never even told me who he was.

I didn't tell you because...

You know, I wanted you to like me for me.

I've heard things about you.

Well, that's just with guys I run against.

I'm not that bad a guy.

I'm sure.

So, you raced the 5,000 for the girls' team?

And the two-mile relay.

Ever since high school.

I could really do something with you.

What's that supposed to mean?

I mean as a runner.

Ellie. Ellie, no.

The guy's car is... it stalled.

And double-parked. I gotta tell him.

Steve, he would lie because he didn't want to hurt anyone.

But what he didn't realize was that... his lying, it hurt a hundred times worse.

You don't have to sneak around on me anymore, Mr. big shot.

This is ridiculous. I was at the library.

Now go screw all the rich little college girls your heart desires.

Wait a second. Where are you goin'?

I came here for you. Nothing else but you.

Look... but you can't do this, Ellie.

I'm gonna marry you.

Less than a year later, when he found out that I was...

I was gonna get married in Portland, he... called my mother and said that I couldn't get married..

Because he was still planning on marrying me someday.

How many runners we got here today?

Hey, pre, I'm on deadline.

I said when I'm done.

What about baseball? Yeah.

See, baseball wouldn't be anything without running, now would it? No.

That's right. Anybody like football? Yeah.

Football wouldn't be much without running, now would it?

He always made time for kids. - Sign mine!

One at a time. He said he saw himself in their little faces.

You got any fast runners here? Yeah!

You got any slowpokes? No!

Ah, we'll see.

Don't forget. Use your upper body.

You've gotta run with your arms, too, not just with your legs.

That's better, Ricky.

Doin' a good job.

Hey, speed racer.

You're not ready for me yet, kid.

Steve, for the rest of his life...

That little kid would have remembered the day Steve prefontaine let him win.

Oh, you can't let a losing mentality creep in here... ever.

A losing mentality? Against a nine year old? Are you serious?

How do you think I got this far, Nance?

What do you mean?

Well, do I look like a runner?

No, you look like a hammer thrower.

Look at you.

You've got long legs, a great stride, you're tall, slender.

You're built like a runner, not me.


So, what have I got going for me?

Why does some kid from coos bay...

With one leg shorter than the other win races?

Let me tell you somethin'.

All of my life people have said to me, "you're too small, pre."

"You're not fast enough, pre."

"Give up your foolish dreams, Steve."

But you know what? They forgot somethin'.

I have to win.

There's no fallback here. No great stride, no long legs! Nothing!

I'm sorry.

Steve, from the moment I saw you...

You looked like the best runner ever.

He always had a great need, ya know.

I mean, just... just an endless need...

That came from somewhere.

I'm not thinkin' about makin' the team.

I'm thinkin' about gold in Munich.

What's on the training table this morning, Galloway?

Hot dogs again.

Breakfast of champions.

Oh, man.

This is bullshit, Frank.

And we're paying for these wonderful accommodations too.

I met a runner last night who had to hawk his trophies just to pay for his plane ticket.

You'd think they'd at least put guys up once they got here.

Au contraire, the a.T.U. And the olympic committee...

Are dedicated to preserving our amateur virginity. That's so screwed up.

Somebody ought to do something.

Frank shorter is going to Munich!

He'll be our top qualifier in the 10,000 meters.

Are you paying for your suite at the Hyatt, Curtis?

Is dick here sleeping on your floor?

You're mixing apples and oranges, bill.

We couldn't afford to put the athletes up even if we wanted to.

That's right. Gotta save back some of those millions you got in the treasury, so you can send over 100 officials to Munich in style.

Luckily for you, your opinions on that...

Were overlooked by the selection committee this year.

Your job is to coach the team on the track. Period.


Maybe I'll have the university hold back the gate receipts.

Let a court decide this situation.

No, no.

No, you've got a choice.

You can take us to court, or you can take the team to Munich.

What's it gonna be, bill?

Wilkins up. James on deck. Gilbert in the hole.

Wilkins' final throw, 175 feet, four inches.

He remains in 12th place.

First call for the 5,000 meter final.

All competitors please report to the clerk.

New and improved. Still no one-piece toe?

That's harder than you think. Nobody makes them one-piece.

These homemade seams are gonna give me big-time blisters.

Give me the damn shoes back.

Give 'em back! Last damn thing I need is you out there thinking about shoes.

One-piece toe! When's the last time you ate?

It doesn't matter. It's all over there in that trash can.

You okay? I'm all right.

It's weird.

Here I am, just a race away from making it to Munich, and suddenly my legs feel like logs.

That's just nerves.

Think of how nervous young is trying to slay you, a fire-breathing dragon in your own backyard.

You are going to burn his ass up.

In Lane one, bronze medalist in the '68 Olympics, the legend, the veteran, George young.

In Lane two, Washington state's great four-time n.C.A.A. Champion, Jerry lindgren.


And in Lane three, a junior from the university of Oregon, three-time n.C.A.A. Champion, American record holder in the 5,000 meters, never defeated at hayward field, Steve prefontaine!

Lap ten of a very fast 5,000.

The race now is between pre and young.

Pre takes the lead!

Go, pre! Go, pre!

Can the kid break the veteran? One of the guttiest runners in track history.

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Little son of a gun's goin' for the record.

Kick! Kick! Kick! Kick! Kick! Go for it! Go for it!

Prefontaine misses the world record, but shatters his own American record by seven seconds.

Congratulations. You did it.

We did it.

You still think nobody cares about the three-mile?

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

I never understood, son, why you ran.

Now she's a nervous wreck as soon as you come on to the field.

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Steve prefontaine has capped an impressive week for American track and field.

Prefontaine celebrates his 21st victory today.

Pre has won the 5,000, the glamour event of these olympic trials.

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

It was like long ago Steve had begun...

This incredible dance with the press and his fans.

Now the music was playing faster and faster.

How you feelin', pre?

I'm feelin' very late. Are you ready?

Ready for what? Come on, pre. You're always good for a quote.

Pre, the experts say you're just a 21-year-old, inexperienced kid...

Who's never faced the top European runners.

Hey, pre, how do you expect to beat the best in the world on their turf?

I'm going to run the last mile under four minutes, and I dare anybody to stay with me.

That's crazy!

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

I guess this is good-bye.

I've been dreamin' about this for so long. Tell me it's really happening.

Look, Steve, I want you to know...

You're more than just my boyfriend.

You're my hero too.

I know you're gonna kick ass.

What if I don't?

I don't want to go.

I'm scared.

Only these people will ever see this live, but you, along with almost a billion other people, are seeing it on television.

Okay, they just cued the doves. Here they come.

There go the bavarian doves, 5,000 of them.

They've dubbed this olympiad...

The "serene Olympics".

Those are the symbolic colors of these Olympics, instead of the Nazi banners that flew here the last time.

And here they come, the United States of America.

Great uniforms this year, aren't they?


There's Steve prefontaine, one of America's best hopes for a gold medal.

And there's art Walker, the triple jumper.

You guys see that Swedish long jumper? What do you think, I'm blind?

She sure wasn't. The way she was checking out every guy in the U.S. delegation.

For real? God bless America. That's right.

Auf wiedersehen. ¶ oh, say can you see ¶ identification. Identification. ¶ by the dawn's early light ¶

¶ by the twilight's last gleam... ¶ give it up, Galloway.

If you get on the medal stand, just move your lips.

Home sweet home.

What did they have, 5,000 doves?

800 dancing girls?

At least we know what they spent their money on.

Look on the bright side, guys.

To clean it, all we need is a fire hose.


Mark spitz has the lead. Here comes Hayden Locke in the middle.

Over here in Lane eight, it's John Murphy, putting on a sprint.

John Murphy coming hard in Lane eight.

Murphy's after spitz! It's too late. The winner is mark spitz! He's got six!

And he's got a new world and olympic record.

There is time for the Russians to go to their big man, Alexander Belov.

They're going to try.

Alexander Belov! And this time it is over.

First it was indicated the U.S. had won 49-48.

That looks like the final score, although there is a big rhubarb going on in front of the bench.

No, no, no. I'm serious. Come on.

Guys who are trying to double up on the 5,000 and 10,000?

Bedford? Yifter? Lasse viren?

I'm not worried about them.

Shh. The race is in the bag.

What the hell are you drinkin', pre?

Last I looked, bedford was the world record holder.

Viren just set a world record in the two-mile last month.

Viren's been running good races, true. True.

But when I make my move with a mile to go, it's gonna be "whoosh"!

And those guy's will feel like they hit a stone wall.



Frank shorter of the united states is still hanging back.

You're watching the 10,000 meter final live on a beautiful sunny day in Munich.

There goes viren, down.

Gammoudi trips over him and falls off the track. Man. Tough break.

Not for shorter!

Come on, Frank. Time to make your move.

Don't count viren out yet.

...Less than three laps to go.

Amazing! After falling, viren has quickly rejoined the pack and is now moving into fifth.

Jesus, what a talent. Yeah, it's the best that money can buy.

What's that supposed to mean?

He's like a lot of the top Europeans.

He's got a fake government job that doesn't cut into his training regime.

Got an entourage of doctors and trainers wherever he goes.

But they're not athletes over here, man. It's like they're national treasures.

I don't know. Looks like a goddamn stallion to me.

And now, after six Miles, here they go.

Passing slower runners. The three of them going for the gold.

This is unbelievable.

He's going after the record. The Finnish flag's still flying.

Here comes punamitz, after viren.

Look at viren accelerate.

And viren's going to hold it!

Lasse viren the winner, 27:38.

That breaks the world record of 27:39.4...

By about half a second.

I'll tell you, Jim, there's one man in these stands...

That had better be worried having watched this race, and that's Steve prefontaine.

The world record of Ron Clarke had stood since 1965. There was Frank Shannon.

Look at this. Here's a bit of real Olympia.

A kid, a blond-haired boy with the Finnish flag leaping over the barrier...



Hey, pre, come here, quick. I need you.

God, he makes other guys look like they're standin' still.

Exactly. Stand still. Don't move.

To folks up there watchin', it's just America's greatest distance runner...

Conferring with his two coaches.

Down here, it's you two guys covering me while I take a leak.

This isn't Eugene, bill. I need a new race plan.

Relax, rube. Goddamn it, bill. I'm serious.

Look, if you were running the 400 against viren, we could all join hands about now and have a good cry.

You're runnin' the 5,000.

Listen to me, rube. On Saturday, his posse won't mean squat.

Bedford'll go out fast and you'll stay right on his butt.

By the time you get ready to take over, viren's legs will be crap.

The only kick he'll have left is the one you give him in the ass on your way by.

Look at viren accelerate!

And viren's gonna hold it.

That breaks the world record of 27:39...


Hello. Is this the U.S. complex? Please, is this... who the hell is this? Shaoul adami. Something horrible is happening.

I know it. Please. I need your help.

What's going on? Where are you? I need you. Run! No!

Run! No! No!

No! Hello? Hello?

I've got an extreme emergency. Get me a number inside of the American embassy.

Right away, damn it! Do it now!

This is an I.T.N. News flash...

From the olympic village in Munich, where arab gunmen... the peace of what have been called the "serene Olympics"...

Was shattered just before dawn this morning...

Arriving passengers, do not be alarmed.

Wurde ein amerikaner getoetet? Nein, esraeli.

Arab terrorists went to the headquarters of the Israeli team...

And immediately killed one man, moshe weinberg, a coach.

Two shots in the head, one in the stomach.

The guerillas are demanding the release...

Of 250 arabs held prisoner in Israel...

And have set noon as the deadline for their release.

They had set a deadline of noon, saying that they were going to kill all of their hostages at that time.

That deadline, obviously, has passed.

There are men with guns, beginning to train those guns...

On the rooms where the two heads were sticking out a moment ago of the arab guerilla lookouts.

One man with binoculars... has anybody here seen mark spitz?

No. Where in the hell is spitz?

How many Jewish athletes do we have on the team?

This is happening now, if you can possibly believe that.

A crowd estimated at 75,000 to 80,000 people...

Has gathered, awaiting the outcome of this.

Here are the men with what appear to be, I suppose, submachine guns.

These are the Germans. They are the men trying to free the Israelis.

They suspended the games.

Burke just told us.

I guess murdered athletes don't make for good sport.

It's the right thing to do. We should all go home now.

Oh, I don't know. I know this is awful to say, 'cause I feel terrible for those guys over there, but right now all I can think about is how hard I've worked to get here.

I feel ripped off, man.

Is that where you're at, pre?

It's dark. It's 23 minutes past seven in the evening, and inside that little block are ten Israelis;

One of them believed dead, the other nine said to be standing in a circle, hands tied behind their back and lashed to each other...

come on, pre.

Grab your stuff. You're staying with me tonight.

Steve! Steve!


I'm okay. I was so worried.

On the plane it was so awful, so awful.

The guards won't let us in. Oh, Steve!

It's all right. I'm okay.

Pre, can you give us a sense of the mood inside... goddamn it! Leave me alone!

We're heading to the olympic village.

One of the helicopters now proceeds out over the olympic site.

You cannot exit this gate. You must leave the area immediately.

I'm sorry. I gotta get him out of here. He'll be staying with me.

I'll call you at the hotel, mom.

The Israeli hostages and the arab commanders...

Who have held them hostage for this entire day...

Has now left, gone to a makeshift helicopter pad at the back of the olympic village.

I've just been told that the German police...

Thought they had the arabs isolated, opened fire on them, whereupon, reportedly, the arabs threw a hand grenade into the helicopter, ohhh. Blowing up the helicopter and killing all the hostages.

All of the hostages are dead, most of the arabs are dead, three of them are in hospitals, what happened?

And one of them may still be on the loose.

It's over. Everybody's dead.

They're all gone.

The Israeli olympic team is destroyed... much of it, some of their officials.

But what will happen to the games of the 20th olympiad?

None of us know what will happen to the course of world history.

I know this is hard, but you gotta put this behind you.

Behind me? The games are over.

The games will resume. Yeah, right.

They'll resume, and they'll run the 5,000 meters.

So what? I'm not running.

Calm down.

Calm down?

Come on, can't you see?

It's all ruined now.

With the "happy games." What a joke!

I've been dreaming about this since I was 16.

This is not how it's supposed to be!

They'll start back up tomorrow or the day after.

That's great. Great.

That's just great.

Over the dead bodies of those athletes, we're gonna go on like nothing happened.

Run races and salute the flag!

Pre, look at me.

You think that viren and yifter and bedford are talking like this?

You think they're wringing their hands and packing their bags over this thing?

They came here to win a goddamn race!

Now, maybe viren's a sensitive humanitarian back in Finland, but right now I'll bet there's a little voice in his head, saying, "hey, I just got an extra day's rest for the 5,000."

An extra day's rest?

That's not fair.

Pre, listen... wait a second!

They can't let any of the 10,000 guys off the hook... pre, listen to me!

Now, you've got to keep your focus!

You're running phenomenal intervals right now, and believe me, those guys know it too.

They're afraid of you. Don't be afraid of them.

I'm not afraid of them.

I'm not afraid of anybody.

One day away from the biggest race in your life, what's going through your mind?

I just want to run my race and get it over with.

Still predicting victory?


I'm just doing the best I can.

The basketball federation has upheld...

Russia's controversial victory in basketball.

Things continue to go downhill for the United States in Munich.

All competitors for the 5,000 meter race, your event is next.

Make sure your numbers are visible on the front of Jersey and right hip of shorts.

Make sure your numbers are clearly visible on front of Jersey and right hip of shorts.

Officials will check your number at the entrance to the stadium.

This unquestionable, I would say, erich, is the quality field of the Olympics.

There are, perhaps, seven, eight, nine or ten men in this field...

That could easily take the gold medal.

Prefontaine told me the other night, or about a week ago, "what I'm gonna try to do is work it out so it'll be a pure guts race at the end.

And if it is, I'm the only one who can win."

I think Steve prefontaine...

Will be the olympic 5,000 meter champion.

I think he will break the world's record of 5,000 meters, but I think he will have to do it in Montreal.

Because today, Steve prefontaine, 21 years old, is running up against the very big boys.

All right, you know the plan:

You're gonna draft behind bedford until the last three laps, then you're gonna go out and take over the race.

Kick the crap in all those damn kickers' legs, pre.

Feel like someone threw a shot put down your throat?

It'll all go away when the gun sounds.

I can't look.

He'll do fine, elfriede. He'll do just fine.

There they are at the line.

There's no field more talented than the field that is running in the 5,000 meters.

Auf die platzen.

A very slow pace, Jim.

Sixty-nine-second quarters. A very slow pace.

This kind of slow pace favors the finishers...

Like Ian Stewart, Lasse viren...

Where is bedford? David bedford of britain?

Bedford's always been a front-runner, but he's way back.

Only six laps to go, erich.

This is a little dangerous, even for Steve prefontaine, to let it go this slowly.

This is not good.

If it's so slow, why doesn't pre just take over?

'Cause then everyone will just draft right behind him.

Leading drains you more than following.

I've never seen pre do anything but lead.

Go, Steve!

Sixty-seven on that last quarter.

The kickers are licking their chops.

Now prefontaine moving up.

And Steve prefontaine is going to take the lead.

One mile to go. Four laps to go.

Steve! Steve! Steve!

Viren is moving up on the outside.

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Here's viren going for the lead.

This is when viren makes his long drive.

This could be the break from the other group.

You have viren, punamitz, Stewart, gammoudi and prefontaine.

No man at the age of 21 has ever won...

This long, tough and thinking man's race, the 5,000 meters.

Prefontaine going for the lead again.

Just 600 yards to go, and he's trying an all-out kick.

Come on, pre!

Look at that magnificent little son of a bitch.

He knows he can't out-kick viren, so he's going to sprint 600 yards.

Pre is running a gutsy race. What a kick he's putting on.

It's gonna be a last lap fight.

It seems impossible that prefontaine can out-kick viren or gammoudi.

Viren! Viren!

Viren is going for his second gold medal of the games.

Mohammed gammoudi is right with him.

And so is Steve prefontaine!

The kid is showing all the guts in the world.

Go, world! Kick their asses!

He's hanging in there with the kickers.

Prefontaine going for the lead with gammoudi.

You can do it! Come on!

Viren is still there.

It's coming to you live from the Munich stadium.

Nobody in the world knows how it's going to turn out...

Until that last stretch, coming to the last turn.

Here comes prefontaine!

Let's go! Come on, baby!

And here it comes.

The brit's try to pass prefontaine for the bronze. It's going to be close.

That man is one of the world's greatest runners in a long time.

At the age of 23, Lasse viren, the policeman from Finland, has won it.

How do you feel about winning two gold medals?

He ran his heart out.

He ran his heart out.

Let him go.

Viren! Viren! Viren!

Viren! Viren! Viren!

Viren! Viren! Viren! Viren!

Viren! Viren! Viren! Viren!

This is the way it ended...

Almost four years ago on that night in Mexico city.


Oh, no!

Come on, let's get you to bed. I want to stay here.

Come on. You need a night's sleep. No. It's my fault.

You can't stay here in the kitchen. It's my fault!

I fucked up! It's not your fault.

It was in '66-'67, '67-'68.

I'm sorry.

Bedford never went ahead.

Son of a bitch has been a front-runner his whole life.

He wimps out now.

I'm such a fuckin' loser. I fucked up!

You're not a loser. You ran your heart out.

You got to try and let it go, pre.

Go, pre.

Go, pre.

Go, pre.

Welcome home.

Hi, baby.

There's no fans out there, are there?


Any reporters?

No one knows you're back. You okay?

Yeah, I'm all right.

Really, I am.

I'm very proud of you, Steve. The whole town is.

Yeah, I'm sure. They'll probably name a street after me.

Call it "fourth street."

Hey! Pre!

Hey, Mac.

I saw your race.

Somebody forget to tell you guys the season's over?

Something's happened to Mac. Must've bumped his head or something.

He's lookin' awfully good.

You, on the other hand, look like shit.

When'd you get back?

Tell me the rumors aren't true, bill.

Which rumors?

This is no time to retire.

You know, someone once said, "he who runs against time...

Has an adversary not subject to casualties."

I'm 62. I'm gettin' too old for all this.

That's bullshit.

You're the best damned coach in the world.

Who presided over the worst performance of a U.S. team in olympic history?

That wasn't your fault.

After all that happened, you couldn't run those races for us.

We're the ones that blew it.

I blew it.

You could've run for the bronze.

You could've run for the silver.

You ran to win.

I couldn't ask more than that from an athlete.

It's funny. These days...

I don't know if I want to train like hell and kick Lasse viren's ass...

Or stay in bed.

Look, you're not some rube from coos bay anymore.

Nobody's gonna wipe your behind or warm your milk.

We're past all that now.

If you want to run, you run.

If you don't, then you walk away from it.

Nobody can coach desire, pre.


I like your hair that way. It makes you look older.

I mean, uh, in a good way.

Yeah, you don't look like a boy from coos bay anymore either.

When we first came up here...

I thought that was the way it was gonna be.

You and me, forever.

Things definitely don't always turn out the way you expect them to.

You know?

I've been reading about your running in the paper.

You're reading the sports pages?


After we broke up, I resented it even more.

I thought, if he hadn't have done all that, then we would've just stayed in coos bay and lived happily ever after.

But then I watched your olympic race on TV, and I realized...

That's really what you love.

That's really who you are, Steve.

Well, it took a while, but pre bounced back.

Hell, he had a great senior year.

Steve prefontaine, university of Oregon senior, wins his fourth straight n. C.A.A. Title...

And breaks his own American record again.

But something was missing.

You know? Something was different.

That spark he had before Munich was gone.

Although the words may be...

Let me get another one down here.

Hey, it's not every day you get big track stars serving beers.

Hey, pre, you still running?

Of course he is, you idiot. He has to go to Montreal and kick some serious butt.

Put things right after what happened in Munich. Right, pre?

Am I right, pre?

The transcripts themselves do not make things perfectly clear.

Get you something? - A bottle of bud.

I'm Michael harron.

There is testimony to support John Dean's version...

"To the President of the a.T.U.:

A representative of the new professional track league has recently approached me."

I'm prepared to offer you more than I paid keno, ryun, seagren and Lee Evans combined.

Two hundred thousand dollars.

Two hundred thousand?

"I feel for me to continue now as an amateur, "I must get the support and experience...

"I need to win in Montreal in '76.

"I love my country, but does it love me enough to allow me...

"To compete in Finland against my real competition?

"Please let me have a chance to become the best, "so I can bring home the gold.

I'm waiting on your answer. Sincerely, Steve prefontaine."

Screw 'em!

What's it say?

They're gonna make me run in Russia instead of Finland.

Tell 'em to shove it and go race viren anyway.

If I don't run their bullshit TV money meets in Russia, Cunningham says...

They're gonna suspend me from any international competition for a whole goddamn year.

What? Yeah.

People say I should be running for the gold in Montreal.

For good old "red, white and blue."

But where has it gotten me?

Living hear on food stamps, begging for crumbs from the a.T.U.

I never protested. I always saluted the flag.

But what about at Montreal?

Right now I feel like saying, to hell with Montreal.

To hell with love of country. I'm lookin' out for me.

Right now I feel like saying, to hell with Montreal.

To hell with love of country. I'm lookin' out for me.

An angry Steve prefontaine lashes out... two beers. Don't want 'em.

That's a buck. You ordered 'em.

Changed my mind. It's okay. We can still pay.

Forget that. I'm leavin', man.

To hell with the country, huh?

Maybe he's just scared that he'll tank again like he did in Munich.

Well, to hell with him.

Hey, come on! Take it outside! I'll kill ya!

You're a loser!

Get the hell out!

You're goin' down, man! You're a loser!

What's wrong?

Be honest with me.

Out there at the meets... tell me the truth... do I still look like a runner?

Oh, God, Steve.

What is it?

I keep thinking, uh...

What if I don't win in Montreal?

It's like...

Deep down...

I want to turn pro not for the money, but so I'll never have to face viren again.

Didn't you say once that when a guy gives you his best shot...

And you beat him anyway, that you own him?

I didn't give him my best shot in Munich.


He doesn't own me. I got boxed in at the last turn.

I know that.

I can't beat viren...

If I can't race him, Nancy.

Hey, pre! Pre! How's your training going?

Why don't you guys go buy somebody else for a change?

Are you anxious to get back to Europe this summer and get another crack at viren?

The only way I'm gonna get near viren is if he takes his summer vacation here.

Personally, I'd like to give viren a 5,000-meter tour of hayward field.

Listen up, pre fans.

Members of the Finnish national team...

Have formally accepted an invitation...

From Steve prefontaine to come and compete...

Against the Oregon track club at hayward field this summer.

Athletes can't go off half-cocked...

Inviting foreign teams into the U.S. for meets.

Only the a.T.U. Does that.

What? Go off half-cocked?

We control the issuance of all travel permits for the purpose... travel permits of U.S. athletes, not foreign. I've read the guidelines.

Well, if you, uh, read the guidelines, then you know that if you promote an unsanctioned meet, you can kiss your amateur status good-bye.

So, what's it gonna be?

Race viren in Oregon...

Or race him in Montreal?

Is this America or what? How can they threaten athletes like this?

I just don't want to lose my amateur status. I've worked hard.

So you want to take on the whole a.T.U.?

Yeah. We call their bluff, plain and simple.

Look, Mac...

Do you want that finn discus guy or not?

I want kahma. And I want viren.

This will be our only chance to face those guys before Montreal.

If we do this, there won't be any Montreal.

It's pretty risky, pre.

Hey, pre, a little help here?

I'm going ahead.

You're either with me or you're not.

Two more beers, please.

Great. Thanks.

Jesus, bill.

Doc said it was a seizure.

Guess I've sniffed too much shoe glue over the years.

I passed out right here on the floor.

Nerve damage, he says.

You gotta stop with the shoes.

I'm well ventilated now. Don't worry about me.

According to the newspapers, you got plenty of worries of your own.

A.T.U.'S making everybody really nervous, bill.

I could use your help.

I'm retired.

Wait a second. What did you used to say?

"It's hard to slay a dragon in his own backyard"?

The a.T.U. Will think twice about defying you here.

You're the one that's bigger than the a.T.U. Now.

See if they have the balls to try to stop Steve prefontaine from going to Montreal.

My quarter says they don't.

We don't even have a sports plan in this country.

No sports medicine.

No training facilities.

After college, our best amateur athletes...

Are put out to pasture and forgotten about until the Olympics.

And then you guys and America...

Wants to know, where are the gold medals?

Now, I'm not a greedy athlete looking for a handout.

I just turned down a lot of money to chase the gold in Montreal, and, uh, and all I want... all we want... is a fighting chance to fulfill our dreams.

This meet is just one small attempt by us, the athletes, to take control of our own destinies.



Okay, how are we picking up the Finns from the airport?

In my mg.

A dozen athletes?

Ohh, I'll make a few trips.

And I suppose the pole vault poles will go in the trunk?

Hey. Hey, Mac.

This just came in down at the track.

From the a.T.U.

What now? Are they sentencing me to prison?

A firing squad would be more my recommendation.

They caved.

The meet's sanctioned.

Ha-ha! Yes!

Whoo-hoo-hoo! All right!

Nancy! Yeah!


Hey, yacco, how're you doin'?

Mm-hmm. Good news.

Hey, Mac, you're gonna get your shot.

Pentti kahma's definitely coming.


All right, Mac. What's that?

All right, thanks.

Yeah, I'll talk to you soon.

Viren's not coming.

Yacco says he, uh, strained a muscle.

Come on, guys. Let's go.

Damn it! I should've known he'd never run against me here!

Screw the whole thing!

Steve. Screw the whole goddamn meet.

People have bought plane tickets. There are guys who are counting on this.

Yeah? Well, they'll live.

Curtis Cunningham will have a field day with this in the press.

The son of a bitch will rub my nose in it.

I never asked to lead the fight against the a.T.U. Anyway.

Well, somebody better tell them.

Oh, man.

Ah, hell, the meet's still on.

All I wanted was viren.

Well, viren's not so sure he wants you.

Which should tell you...

He doesn't own you.

You ready to run?


Can't run without proper shoes.

That a one-piece toe?

Yep. And they are a thing of beauty.

Piss it all. Give me a second.

What are you doing?

My new business partner. You got a business partner?

Yeah, a former walk-on of mine with average speed.

Says when we put these in production, we're gonna need a splashy logo if we expect 'em to sell.

What's that supposed to be?

We're calling 'em the nike swoosh.

The what swoosh?

His idea.

Greek goddess of victory, 490 b.C.

Well, it looks like needless wind resistance to me.

With us in the booth for the first time ever, former duck coach and legend-in-residence, bill bowerman.

Welcome, bill. It's nice to be here, Wendy.

Down on the field, Finland's pentti kahma, the top-ranked discus thrower in the world.

There's one heck of a toss, bill.

With a final throw of 211 feet, four inches.

Uh... last up in the discus...

Now, um, Oregon's own Mac Wilkins.

Hey, there's pre!

There he is! Hey, pre!

Pre! Pre!

This will be Mac's final throw. Currently in second place.

Wilkins delivers his best toss ever, 212 feet, three inches.

He wins the competition.

And he establishes a new hayward field record.

For today, Mac Wilkins is the best discus man in the world.

Hold this for me until the end of the race.

Good luck, Steve.

Go get 'em, son.


Do I look like a runner?

This will be the final event...

Of today's first annual finn/oregon meet.

5,000 meters.

Ah, what the hell.

Thanks for coming and bailing me out, shorter.

I love sticking it to the a.T.U.

Are you going to the party tonight?

Runners to your mark. I guess so.

I'll see you there.

With two laps to go, pre makes his move.

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, Steve!

Come on! Come on!

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

I hope you people at home realize what a rare runner this man is.

The kind a coach sees only once in a lifetime.

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Come on, Steve! Go, son!

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

Hey, Mac, you really kicked kahma's ass today.

I couldn't have done it without this meet.

¶ Once you get started ¶ you know something?

It's like all those years, to me, you were just a talented little jerk.

I'm serious. You were a jerk.

I never understood you.

It took me a while too.

Well, now I do.

I live and breathe the discus, pre.

I mean, I hate Christmas...

And Thanksgiving and easter...

And anything that disrupts my routine.

It worked for you today, man. You beat the best.

Didn't always work for me.

Yeah, well, you aren't done yet.

No, I'm not.

¶ Once you get started ¶

¶ oh, it's hard to stop ¶ everybody shut up, will you?

I think we should all raise our glasses to our Finnish guests...

For coming and making the meet such a great success.

Here, here!

And, uh, to my roommate pre.

Some guys win races.

Other guys watch and learn and pass it on.

I never thought I'd learn so much from a guy from coos bay.

But I did.

And, uh, I've enjoyed every damn minute.

So... to Steve.

To Steve.

Well, this was a team effort, and thanks to everybody here who helped put this together.

There's a feeling I got today unlike any other.

I guess, uh...

I guess it's what I thought Munich would be.

I'm so glad we did this.

Way to go, world.

Yeah. Way to go, Steve.

¶ They say every man needs protection ¶

¶ they say that every man must fall ¶

¶ yet I swear I see my reflection ¶

¶ somewhere so high above this wall ¶

¶ I see my life... ¶

Jesus Christ! Come on! Hold on!

Can't breathe. Hold on, kid. I'll get you.

Somebody help me!

I'm gonna... I'm gonna get help.

He's dead, and that's final.

No amount of misery or suffering by me is gonna bring him back.

I remember realizing that...

I had kind of settled for things since we had broken up.

And he never did that.

I looked at him at that party that night, and I thought, he's gonna make a great husband, father.

The best time in my life was my time with him.

Well, let's be honest. I mean, the only reason...

That we're sitting here talking about pre right now is because pre was a winner.

People need winners.

Pre went to Munich to win.

In Montreal, by God, he would have.

I woke up the morning after the meet.

I was out of my bed like a bull.

I ran down to the corner to buy me a paper.

I took enough money to buy ten copies.

I had beaten pentti kahma.

I mean, this was gonna be my sports page today.

It was my big moment.

Then I just saw it all over the papers.

You know what my first thought was?

That son of a bitch found a way to beat me again.

Pre ran every race as though it were his last.

This is his last.

This is the bell lap for Steve prefontaine.

Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre!

Go, pre! Go, pre! Go, pre!

¶ may God bless and keep you always ¶

¶ may your wishes all come true ¶

¶ may you always do for others ¶

¶ and let others do for you ¶

¶ may you build a ladder to the stars ¶

¶ and climb on every rung ¶

¶ and may you stay ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ may you stay ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ may you grow up to be righteous ¶

¶ may you grow up to be true ¶

¶ may you always know the truth ¶

¶ and see the light surrounding you ¶

¶ may you always be courageous ¶

¶ stand upright and be strong ¶

¶ and may you stay ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ may you stay ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ may your hands always be busy ¶

¶ may your feet always be swift ¶

¶ may you have a strong foundation ¶

¶ when the winds of changes shift ¶

¶ may your heart always be joyful ¶

¶ may your song always be sung ¶

¶ and may you stay ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ may you stay ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ forever young ¶

¶ and may you stay ¶

¶ forever young ¶