My first running role model was a local high school runner named Tommy Johnston. He was four years older than me and I would see him running through my hometown of Falmouth on long training runs when he was in high school. I started running in ninth grade weeks after the first ever Falmouth Road Race. Tommy finished in 10th place in that race back in 1973. That fall he went off to run at Wheaton College in Illinois and I started running with his brother at Falmouth High School. As a footnote, I also ran at Wheaton College four years after Tommy and it took me until my last collegiate cross-country race before I finally beat his best time over the 5 mile distance. I don't recall ever running a step with Tommy in my life, but I do recall him showing me a new pair of running shoes that he had ordered from a new company in Oregon called Blue Ribbon Sports. They were a pair of Tiger shoes with that silly Nike swoosh stitched on in place of the Tiger stripes. I wonder how much that pair of shoes would be worth today if Tommy had kept them.
I sold a bunch of my old Nikes on eBay years ago and made some nice money for getting rid of my junk! My wife was very happy, but mystified as to why someone (most were sold to people in Japan and in Europe) would pay for my old sneakers!
But then you have guys like Lindy Darrel, who is a collector of vintage Nike shoes who just love the glory years of Nike. I recently found this interview with Lindy and and his shoe collection as well as wonderful photos of some of the classic Nike shoes from that period of time including some that I had never heard of before. You can read the interview here. It is on a website called Sneaker Freaker.
There is a slideshow on the interview page that has marvelous pictures of some of the pristine shoes in Lindy's collection. I see some of my favorite ever racing shoes in his collection: the lime green waffle racers, Oregon Waffles, the America Eagle racing shoes, and Nike Mariahs (in team colors-Nike used to send special team colored versions of their shoes to top racers and teams- the North Central College guys seemed to get a lot of these as well as our own Danny Henderson. I still have a pair of his old spikes that were handed down to me and which look exactly like the 1973 Americas in one picture- except mine still have some Illinois mud caked onto them). Then there is a pair of the 1980 Nike Eagle- probably the lightest shoe I have ever worn. Nike needs to bring back the American Eagle and the Eagle shoes. They were such great racing shoes. There are also pictures of the old Waffle Trainers. Nike did bring these back into production a few years ago and I got a couple of pair. The funny thing was I blistered in the same place as I did years ago when running in the originals. I don' recall how many pairs of these I ran through, but I used to kill them and my toes would be hanging out the sides before I threw them away. There is a picture of the Nike Terra TC, which Lindy says was a great shoe, but which was the first Nike shoe that I didn't like running in as I did not like the Phylon midsole. Then there is a picture of the Nike Sting, a shoe I always wanted, but never did get. I can only imagine what those shoes would feel like on my feet. Finally there is even a picture of the Nike pinwheel bag. I received that bag (in beige) one year for Christmas. I saw it once on eBay going for a large sum money, and wished I never threw mine away. If you remember the old vintage running shoes, you may want to check out the article and pictures. After awhile your monitor will aquire that new sneaker smell! As you can imagine, one of my favorite parts of being a runner is the shoes. Now you know a bit of why my wife calls me Imelda!
Here I am flying to the finish line of the 1980 Falmouth Road Race wearing a pair of Nike Eagles. They were so light I was going airborne!