Best In Shoe

Run­ning shoes have come a very long way

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -


In the be­gin­ning there were rac­ing shoes. But they were not ter­ri­bly good. ‘ Very few run­ning shoes were avail­able, if they could be called that,’ says run­ning-shoe col­lec­tor Dave Kayser, who started run­ning in 1966. ‘They were heavy and stiff, usu­ally with leather or can­vas up­pers.’

RW con­trib­u­tor Amby Bur­foot, who raced on the nascent road­run­ning cir­cuit of the mid-1960s, re­mem­bers the New Bal­ance Track­ster. In­tro­duced in 1960, it had a leather up­per and rubber rip­plesole, and was ‘ideal for prac­ti­cally any run­ning sur­face’, claimed the ads. ‘It had a pal­pa­ble amount of cush­ion­ing’ Bur­foot re­calls. ‘The minute some­body of­fered us a shoe with a lit­tle cush­ion­ing from road shock, we went in that di­rec­tion.’

By the time of the 1968 Bos­ton Marathon, which he won, Bur­foot had switched to the Onit­suka Tiger Marathon, which many re­mem­ber fondly for its light­ness and com­fort. Tiger’s train­ing shoe, the Road Run­ner, had a built-up heel and foam rubber mid­sole. ‘That was one of the first shoes that felt like a real road-run­ning shoe,’ says Bur­foot.

Bur­foot bought his Tigers from Jeff John­son, the first em­ployee of a new com­pany called Blue Rib­bon Sports, founded by Phil Knight and Bill Bow­er­man, which was

im­port­ing shoes from Ja­pan and sell­ing them from the back of vans at races. More about them later…

THE RW GUIDES The first Shoe Guide pub­lished in Dis­tance Run­ning News, the mag­a­zine that would be­come Run­ner’s World, came out in April 1967. It fea­tured 14 ‘flats.’ Eleven of those mod­els came from three brands: Adi­das, New Bal­ance and Tiger. The guide listed ‘best’ shoes in just two cat­e­gories. The Tiger Road Run­ner topped ‘train­ing’, while Tiger’s Marathon won the ‘rac­ing’ cat­e­gory.

1967 Tiger Marathon wins best rac­ing shoe in Dis­tance Run­ning News.

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