Steve Prefontaine’s Mother Passes Away

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jul. 18, 2013
  • Updated Jul. 18, 2013 at 10:05 AM UTC

She was 88 years old.

Some sad news out of Oregon: The Register-Guard is reporting that Elfriede Prefontaine, the mother of legendary University of Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine, passed away on Tuesday after suffering a fall at the assisted living facility she was at in Eugene.

A German by birth, Elfriede stood at 5-foot-1 and was known for her toughness — something she passed on to her only son.

Steve Prefontaine died back in 1975 in a car crash, just hours after he won his 5000m race. He was only 24.

“It was absolutely devastating,” said his sister, Linda Prefontaine, 59, about the fatal crash. “You see him running one night, and then … ”

Linda continued: ““It was crippling to my mother.” She dealt with the loss of her son by gutting it out. “She always gutted things out. You just got through it. You powered through it.”

Pre’s father, Ray, passed away at 85 in 2004. After she lost her husband, Elfriede continued to attend the track meet named after he son, the Prefontaine Classic, every year.

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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