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Steve Prefontaine hosts the Finnish team at his home. The team had just arrived in Eugene, Oregon, to begin the US-Finnish Tour in May 1975
Steve Prefontaine hosts the Finnish team at his home. The team had just arrived in Eugene, Oregon, to begin the US-Finnish Tour in May 1975. Eugene Register-Guard photo by Wayne Eastburn, Apr 30 1975 issue. The comments below are largely derived from an article accompanying this photo, by John Conrad of the Register-Guard
The Finns arrived in Eugene Tuesday, April 29, 1975, after a 21-hour flight. Pre brought them to his home for pizza and cold beer before sending them off to sleep. When a couple who volunteered to house some of the Finns did not show, Pre bedded down the guests, threatening to send his roommates packing. The six athletes were slated to be joined three weeks later by Lasse Viren for races on May 21 and 29.
The meets set up for the Finns were slated as follows:
May 4: Finnish Tour Meet, Madras OR
May 9: Finnish Tour Meet, Coos Bay OR
May 15: Finnish Tour Meet, Burnaby BC, Canada
May 21: Finnish Tour Meet, Seattle WA (this planned meet never happened, instead Pre and the Finns competed in the California Relays in Modesto, CA, May 24)
May 29: NCAA Prep meet, Eugene OR
Pre was the originator and main promoter for this tour. He planned the tour as a cultural exchange as well as high-level track meets. He recruited talent from the U. of Oregon, Oregon State, the Oregon Track Club, and Club Northwest. Pre's close friend and confidant, Frank Shorter from the Florida Track Club, also agreed to participate.
The Finn's track season begins in June, so this tour was important for them in that it afforded their first outdoor track practice and competition of the year. Pre said that possibly more Finns would have come had the trip been firmed up earlier. Tuominen also said that many Finnish distance runners were reluctant to travel because their cross-country season was in progress with national championships in about a month.
Prefontaine and Tuominen had forged a relationship during Pre's travels to Europe, with Touminen helping Pre navigate the hazards of European racing. Jaako got Pre into the European circuit and made sure Pre was paid for his appearances. In return, Pre set two American records running in Helsinki. Jaakko was Finnish team leader and promoter, but not the coach since each athlete had their own coach to plan their programs.
Jaako also introduced Pre to the sauna, leading Pre to personally build his own sauna at the home he purchased--a matter of great pride.
Pre invited the athletes from Finland to compete in the five meets in May 1975. Pre was very fond of the Finns and raced in Finland more often than any other country outside the US. These were Pre's last meets as he died tragically the night after the final race in the series at Hayward Field, Eugene OR.
Pre wanted Jaako to send a Finnish team to compete in the northwest, using Eugene as a base. Pre organized the venues himself without AAU sanction at first. (REF: Out of Nowhere by Geoff Hollister, Meyer and Meyer Sports, 2008, pp. 109-114)
Pre hoped to lure Lasse Viren as part of the Finnish team to run the 3-mile race on May 29th with him and Frank Shorter and at an earlier May 21st meet in Seattle (that never took place), both part of the series of the Finnish Tour meets. Viren committed to the run in what was Pre's final race on May 29th. However, he dropped out of the meet on short notice begging off for a leg injury. Pre ended up running a 5000m instead.
The 5000m race was the 1972 Olympic event which Viren won and Pre placed 4th. Pre always wanted a chance to run against Vilen in that event to prove he could beat him. Oddly, Pre DID beat Viren in the 5000m on May 29th--it just wasn't in the same race. Viren, despite claims of injury that kept him from the meet in Oregon, had no problems racing the 5000m on the same day in Finland that Pre ran that distance in Oregon. Viren came in 7th in the race in Helsinki with 13:51.2; the winner, Czech runner Pavel Penkava ran 13:48.0. Pre ran the Oregon 5000m in 13:23.8, 27.4 seconds faster than Viren!
The Finnish Athletes and others who traveled to Oregon included the following (if you know of others, please leave a comment):
1. Jorma Jaakola--Javelin, with a best distance to 282-11 1/4
2. Peniti Kahma--discus, 1974 European champion
3. Antii Kalliomaki--Pole Vault, 1975 European indoor pole vault champ with 17-11 1/2
4. Pirkko Helenius--long jump and sprinter (the only female), LJ best of 21-7 1/2
5. Raimo Vilen--sprinter, with times of 10.0 in the 100m and 20.8 in the 200m
6. Rune Holmen--5000m, best time of 13:42.0, 28:40 in the 10,000m
Jaako Tuominen, Finnish promoter
Ilpo Nikila--trainer, masseus "Mr. Tickle"
Elmer Ukkola, trainer
Markku Kukkoano--200 and 400m (probably dropped out of tour--no race recorded)
Seppo Tuominen--3000 and 10,000m (probably dropped out of tour--no race recorded)
When Opportunity Knocks
I am not a wildlife photographer.
Wildlife photography takes a certain set of skills that I just do not possess. Things like patience, stealth and silent movement are not things that I was born with. Basically, if I had to track, hunt and catch my food to live I would starve to death. :)
OK, that is not really true because anyone that knows me well enough knows that I would just persuade someone else to do all the hunting for me, but that is not the point here.
The point is that when wild animals see me they run, jump or fly away. Not because they are scared of me physically but because they realize that I look hungry and THAT is what scares them.
So, I was cruising down the street the other day with the windows rolled down bumping my new Justin Bieber CD when I drove past some standing water on the side of the road with this heron standing there staring at me. I grabbed my emergency dinner kit consisting of some silverware, salt and pepper, a napkin and a breath mint and jumped out of the car but as I approached the heron it didn't move. I was so shocked that I decided to grab my camera and take a few shots before I ate it.
I started shooting from about 20 feet away and walked closer each time expecting it to take flight at any moment. Soon I was standing next to it and it just sat there posing for me. I could have easily grabbed it. I was that close. Then, after I was sure I had at least one decent shot I dropped my camera to my side and with one last look, the heron flew into the sunset. So this my friends is one of the only wildlife images you will see from me. I am pleased that other great photographers have taken on the challenge so that I don't have to and I am also pleased that others are willing to catch, cook and serve my food to me so that I can go on living. :)
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