Picture yourself as a kid, a younger less freckled (I’m a ginger and can map the years of dots like rings of a tree) version wearing your then favourite t-shirt. This t-shirt was rumoured to be worn by Zeus, or the Fonz, or both. It would get you the girls, or boys, and suit every family, formal, sporting occasion. It was rarely washed given the constant need. You’d sell one of your cousins nowadays to get it back. Granted, an odd way to start a blog piece about running shoes; shoes that I still own, smell at my leisure, run my fingers over to admire the lines and swear at (myself, I think…) when I forget to take on an overnight trip where a run is/was a chance. It’s to exaggerate that we all have romantic connections, rightly so, to ‘stuff’. Be it your first band t-shirt, a pair of cords that look and sound like roofing iron, or a headband that said ‘Go *&ck yourself’, reminding you of your days as a street fighter. Shoes, like no other garment, surely hold the mantle of facilitating our path through life.
Before I list a shoe-CV, it’s worth mention that I bought these fine specimens before the fresh people at Salomon starting sending me newer, fruitier versions.
I visited ‘The Mall’ during by half day off when working in the States during May of 2010. I remember the day because I also bought Kiwi liquorice at the Candy store, and was eating the black chunks of gold when I handed over my hard earned. I paid cash, thanks to selling drugs on the side.
The shoes and I traipsed high and low over Vermont’s Green Mountains that summer. I’d chalk up 3-5 hikes a week with the lads (my front-of-house job as a guide), and run 6 days a week. I reckon I chalked up 1000 miles, ok; 1600k in my first U.S. hit out.
I return home and file for divorce with leather. Cows, back off.
Notable long hauls:
- 30 days of walking the brutally rocky Larapinta Trail in the Northern Terriatory in 12’, 14’ & 15’.
- The Aussy Alps walking track, running end to end (11’), and dozens of 1-5 day loops over the best bits.
- A few hundred clicks of the Heysen Trail in South Australia.
- 100k walk to work (after my other feet, my feet, didn’t hold up after 8k of walking on a smooth road).
Teaching, strolling, sport, buying marked-down veggies at the Pearcedale IGA supermarket, collecting the mail and gardening on the way back to the house (and all of a sudden my good pants and good shirt are no longer good), mowing lawns and jousting. And running. On and off, all over the world for 5+ years on trails, tracks, railroad, snow, sand and last month, the low-tide knee deep mud on the fringe of an island (idiot. See photo). Let’s throw a figure at it, conservatively, sincerely, 5000+kms.
The point is that some things in life should be rewarded for being great. Be it a bike, watch, teacup or tool. And like use-by dates and best-before jargon, more often than not things are better, tougher, still tasty and fixable long after we give them credit. Most running shoes, for example, say you should feed them to the dog after 500k. During big bouts of training, this would mean replacing my shoes every 3-4 weeks. Crazy talk. Well I say, the more you wear them, the better they become. Less blisters, more nuanced foot bed, more feel. You get closer to the world, literally. Yes, you will have to replace the laces and apply some silicon to the creases every so often, but if this means another few runs, or another session in the garden, then you owe it to yourself and the good folks who made them. Well done to the best pair of shoes I’ve every worn. Time, reluctantly, for the poolroom.