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Nike Bowerman Running shoes


Man spent several million years evolving as a runner. The athletic shoe has a much shorter history—about 180 years. But the modern running shoe is even younger, a mere adolescent who came of age during the early era of space exploration. The timing probably explains why Nike’s original waffle-tread shoes that market-launched in the early 70s became widely known as “moon shoes.” The distinctive grid-like pattern that the soles made in dirt resembled the footprints left behind by the American astronauts on the lifeless, chalky lunar soil. Those NASA tread marks are still visible on the moon—untouched and undisturbed on the windless landscape. Yet here on our own planet, the evidence of where and how man first went shod is more difficult to nail down with any certainty. It’s a guessing game with science helping when it can.

In 1938, Luther Cressman, an Oregon-based anthropologist who was once briefly married to Margaret Mead, unearthed a pair of well-preserved, shredded sagebrush bark sandals from an upraised volcanic landmass, also called a tuff ring, near Fort Rock, Oregon. These shoes were radiocarbon-dated to be around 10, 000 years old, making them the oldest footwear ever discovered. Cressman ended up finding dozens of sandals buried beneath a hardened layer of volcanic ash that resulted from the eruption of the Mt. Mazama volcano 7, 500 years ago. It was an amazing footwear fossil trove, but there is another coincidental item regarding this discovery that occasionally surfaces in books and articles about Nike’s storied past. The University of Oregon’s legendary track coach and co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman, who had created the original waffle trainer, was born in Fossil, Oregon, which is located about 150 miles north of the archeological site.

Bowerman’s son, Jon, now in his early seventies and a former U.S. Olympic ski coach, still lives in Fossil on the family ranch that once bordered the infamous, scandal-plagued Bhagwan Rajneesh commune. In 2010, an important relic was found in a rubbish-filled landfill on the Bowerman ranch. Jon’s brother accidentally came across the very same waffle iron that was used by his father to create a new urethane running sole. The iron was corroded, rusted, and clearly unusable. Reached at his home in Fossil in December 2010, Jon Bowerman recalled that simple cooking gadget. “The chrome waffle iron had been in our family for a long time, since about 1936. It was either a wedding gift, or bought around the same time. It was small, so you could only make one waffle at a time. Which meant, Dad had to cook the rubber twice to make two soles. He then glued both soles to nylon uppers to make the final shoes.” Understandably, a whole lot of mythology has burnished this simple cooking appliance that should have its own display case in the Smithsonian, even though its closer-to-home final resting place is Nike’s corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The waffle iron actually belonged to Bill’s wife. Years before oxidizing rust set in, the cooked, blackened rubber forever ruined the gadget.

But what else do we know about the Bowerman waffle-iron legacy? Two smartly written books, Swoosh, by J. B. Strasser and Laurie Becklund, and Bill Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, by Kenny Moore, make for fascinating reading about Bowerman and Nike’s early history. Bowerman was a born tinkerer, blessed with the DNA of a restless, curious mind, and coauthor of a 126-page national bestselling book called Jogging that came out in the late 1960s. As the long-time track coach at the University of Oregon, his résumé is remarkable: four National Collegiate Athletic Association track and field championships; in addition, he coached forty-four all-Americans and nineteen Olympic athletes. When he was away from the track, Bowerman constantly experimented with ways to remove nonessential ounces from running shoes in order to improve their performance. He said that the “ideal shoe would provide enough support for a runner during a race, but would fall apart once that runner crossed the finish line.” He tried out new designs and materials for the soles, spikes and uppers.

In a 1960 Sports Illustrated profile of Bowerman, he was quoted as saying, “‘The ordinary track shoe is covered with junk. Leather trim, tongue, laces. All unnecessary.’ {The Bowerman} shoe, which he cuts and sews himself to fit the athlete, is a combination of scraps of leather, elastic and canvas which weighs only about four ounces, as against 6½ ounces for the ordinary shoe. Bowerman figures that if he cuts the weight of the shoe an ounce, he’s saving the runner from lifting approximately 200 pounds in a mile race, depending upon the runner’s stride.”

Bowerman’s collegiate runners were accustomed to his restless nature, unorthodox manner and tough love. One of those track men was an above-average middle-distance runner named Phil Knight, whose personal best for the mile was 4:10. After acquiring an MBA from Stanford, where he wrote a seminal paper, “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?” Knight traveled to Japan, where he was able to secure distribution rights to sell Onitsuka Tiger running shoes in the United States. He then entered into a handshake agreement with his former coach in 1964 to create Blue Ribbon Sports. While Knight kept his day job as an accountant, their fledgling startup—which was going up against German footwear giants Puma and adidas—sold 300 pairs of these inexpensive flat-soled sneakers in their first year, mainly to high school and college runners in the Pacific Northwest, often by showing up at track meets with a car trunk full of Tigers.

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Are Nike running shoes good? | Yahoo Answers

I've been wearing New Balance 720's and since this shoe was discontinued was thinking of getting the newer New Balance 760SB's. I like the New Balance shoe and have never run in anything else. Well recently I was looking at the Nike running shoes. What really is selling me is the Nike+ that goes inside. I have never run in Nike shoes and don't want my feet to hurt or be uncomfortable just because of a cool gadget. Are the Nike shoes good for a serious runner?
I run 3-5 miles 4-5 times a week and participate in a few races throughout the year. My first coming in late Apri…

I've been wearing New Balance 720's and since this shoe was discontinued was thinking of getting the newer New Balance 760SB's. I like the New Balance shoe and have never run in anything else. Well recently I was looking at the Nike running shoes. What really is selling me is the Nike+ that goes inside....

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