The Best... Place for a Run

Photograph by Jack Liu

It’s a wet Oregon spring morning and last night’s rain shower has turned Pre’s running trail into a mud run. My new white running shoes are getting a taste of what it’s like to be new brown running shoes and I’m sucking a hard wind and hacking tar as a I regret sharing a couple cigarettes with this cute girl at the bar the night before.

Regardless of what a struggle this run is becoming, I keep going, putting one leg in front of the other. My morning running ritual is cathartic for me and it helps me think. As a writer, I’ve gotten some of my best ideas out on Pre’s Trail.

With the change of the seasons, it’s becoming easier to get out of bed. Back in winter it would still be pitch black if I got up at 6:00 a.m. to fulfill my running obligations—a struggle to say the least, but it’s worth it because I’m usually the only one out there. Sometimes a pack of international track superstars will pass me—but there’s no shame in this. Because of proximity to the University of Oregon and its proud track program, I share Pre’s Trail with some of the best runners on the planet. The trail itself was designed and conceived by one of the running world’s greatest.

According to memorial placards placed throughout the trail’s four-odd miles, Pre’s Trail was the result of Steve Prefontaine ’73 campaigning to build a European-style woodland running trail in Eugene. The path wasn’t completed before he died in a vehicle accident in 1975; an inaugural run was held later that year.

In addition to Olympians, I usually share the trail with Willamette River wildlife. There have been times when I stop mid run to check out an eagle dive-bombing some fish in the pond, or a nutria scampering across the woodchip trail like something straight out of The Princess Bride. There are blue herons, too, and along with the trees and the river, the whole scene combines to make Pre’s Trail my early morning refuge, even if I’m slow as hell.

By Mat Wolf '12

Mat Wolf earned his BA in journalism in June. He currently works as an associate editor at JO Magazine in Amman, Jordan.