Pre Mural

Image contribute by the city of Coos Bay. 

COOS BAY—Steve Prefontaine has been memorialized in various ways in his childhood home of Coos Bay.

Next month, a mural of the iconic runner in downtown Coos Bay will be added to the list of tributes.

It is designed to honor Prefontaine, a Marshfield graduate who held every American record between 2 miles and 10,000 meters at the time of his death in 1975.

The project is being paid for by Coos Bay, which has a contract not to exceed $50,000, according to city manager Rodger Craddock. The cost covers concept development, labor and materials.

The mural design was chosen by Pre’s sister, Linda Prefontaine, and the Prefontaine Foundation, with input from the Coos Bay city council.

Originally, Prefontaine saw mural artist Erik Nicolaisen’s work in Springfield. He and his company, the Old City Artists, painted a mural of Ken Kesey there.

Prefontaine passed along the artist’s information to Coos Bay.

She said she thinks the mural will be a nice addition to the community.

“To have another tribute to him in his hometown I think is great,” Prefontaine said.

The images selected represent different phases of Pre’s running career.

The first depicts his days as a track athlete at Marshfield, the center is an image of him during his junior year at University of Oregon, and the final picture shows him at the Olympics in Munich, Germany.

Above reads the famous Prefontaine quote: “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

Nicolaisen said the final composition ties into the 275 S. Broadway Street space.

“This one (design) came toward the tail end of the process and it was kind of a eureka moment,” Nicolaisen said, “It really symbolizes the progression of Steve Prefontaine.”

The artist said the images encapsulate the story they wanted to tell about Pre.

“The embodiment of the guts and 100-percent investment that he embodied,” Nicolaisen said.

Like Prefontaine, Nicolaisen also attended the University of Oregon.

As a native Oregonian, Nicolaisen said he knew about Pre from a young age.

The artist said the mural will be completely hand painted by a team of artists who will premix the colors before starting.

Nicolaisen said he anticipates completing the mural in a matter of four or five days.

“I think we'll kind of amaze people at how fast we work,” Nicolaisen said, “If you blink you might miss some of the good parts.”

The goal is to have the mural done before the annual Prefontaine run, scheduled for Sept. 16.

There’s also talk of painting a track on the ground coming out of the mural. It’s something the city, Prefontaine and Nicolaisen have expressed enthusiasm for, however Nicolaisen said there’s not enough time to figure out what to do with the substrate. He said there would need to be paint on the ground that will last through the rain and foot traffic.

Painting is scheduled to begin around Sept. 1

Reach Saphara Harrell at (541) 269-1222 ext. 239 or by email at


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