Prefontaine Memorial Run canceled

COOS BAY — The annual Prefontaine Memorial Run became the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic this week, when the long-running tribute to Marshfield great Steve Prefontaine was canceled for this year.

The Prefontaine Memorial Foundation committee agreed unanimously to cancel the event, which had been scheduled for Sept. 19, due to COVID-19 guidelines and concerns.

“This would have been the 41st year for our event, and though we regret the necessity of the cancellation, our foremost concern is to safeguard the wellbeing of our participants, volunteers and those who gather to watch and cheer on the walkers and runners,” said Bob Huggins, the executive director for the Foundation.

Huggins noted that refunds would be sent to people who already have signed up for the race.

The committee had hoped to be able to hold the race, which is the largest annual sports event on the South Coast, typically drawing more than 1,000 runners and walkers for its 10-kilomter race and 2-mile run walk and an associated high school cross country race.

“There are just too many situations we can’t control,” Huggins said. “The outdoor running portion of it is OK. The likeliness of getting COVID if you’re outdoor running is remote.

“But when we start dealing with indoor registration, start-line gathering with people around, handing out awards — there’s just too many things we can’t control.”

Plus, Huggins pointed out, “The governor’s proclamation that sporting events and large gatherings are prohibited through September pretty much made our decision for us.”

Locally and statewide, other big events also have been canceled, including the Hood to Coast Relay, the Butte to Butte run in Eugene, Cycle Oregon and county fairs.

The South Coast Running Club also this week canceled all its summer events, including the Jennifer’s Cathing Slough Classic in June, the rescheduled Roseburg to Coos Bay Relay in June, the Mayor’s Firecracker Run on July 4 in Mingus Park, the Circle the Bay in August and the Sunset Bay Trail Run on Labor Day Weekend.

“Given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we have made the difficult decision to cancel running events through September,” club officials said in a message sent out to members. “We believe this is the most responsible course of action.

“We are saddened by the circumstances that are causing us not to be hosting these events. We believe it is our role to keep our runners and their families healthy by decreasing exposure risk.”

This was going to be a particularly big year for the Prefontaine Memorial Run because the Road Runners Club of America had declared the run this year’s National Championship 10K race. But Huggins said RRCA officials already have told him they will award that distinction to next year’s run.

“We look forward to Sept. 18, 2021, when we plan to once again invite runners to take part in our premier event to honor our hometown hero, Steve Prefontaine, his celebrated running career and his memory,” Huggins said.

The annual run helps the Prefontaine Foundation fund a number of projects each year.

Huggins said projects made possible by the generous support of sponsors and the proceeds from the run include grants to support track and cross country programs in Coos County high schools, annual scholarships to high school seniors who participate in track or cross country, and helping fund the Pre Track Club, a summer training program at Marshfield High School.

This year’s sponsors include Nike, Pacific Properties, Tower Motor Company, Banner Bank, Vend West Services, Farr’s Hardware and North Bend Medical Center.

More information about the run and the Prefontaine Foundation is available at or by calling Huggins at 541-297-0230.

posted Saturday May 23rd