UTICA, N.Y. — Steve Prefontaine, the former Oregon track star who died in an auto accident in 1975, was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Prefontaine won seven NCAA titles and once held every American record from 2,000 to 10,000 meters. He died at the age of 24.
Alberto Salazar also was inducted along with nine-time New York Marathon winner Grete Waitz and the late Clarence DeMar, a seven-time Boston Marathon winner.
Prefontaine was represented by his sister, Linda Prefontaine, who spoke of his continued impact on today's young runners, on those who admired him years ago and the convicts who built a memorial to him in gratitude for his work with them.
"Steve's greatest gift was not that he ran faster than the competition or that he pushed himself past the pain threshold to set American records," Linda Prefontaine said. "It was that he created and inspired determination and a will to succeed in 16-year-old high school girls who weren't born when he died, and future fathers who will teach their sons about the fire within, and prisoners in penitentiaries who might grow to understand honesty, humility and integrity and change their lives."
Salazar won the New York Marathon three times, setting a world record of 2:08.13 in 1981, and also won the 1982 Boston Marathon.
Waitz, a top sprinter and then a world-class middle distance runner in her native Norway, became an international star after reluctantly entering her first marathon in New York in 1978 and winning in world-record time.
DeMar, an early long-distance running innovator who first won Boston in 1911, was represented by his son, Robert DeMar.
The Hall of Fame also presented its George Sheehan Memorial Award to Bert Rosenthal, the longtime Associated Press writer.