A pre-pubescent boy walks into his middle-school gymnasium during his lunch period. Usually, he plays four square with the other nerds and avoids his puberty-having counterparts playing a game of half-court basketball. He avoids them because he lacks the dexterity needed to participate in the game and not become a complete and utter liability within the zone defensive scheme that has gained popularity amongst these particular middle-school athletes. The larger, more handsome boys yell objectively mean words at our small, less handsome boy as he sulks to the deepest crevasse of the gym reserved for sad and unathletic games of four square. This is his daily routine; repeating and returning like his night terrors.
One day, our boy’s step dad shows up to the house with a box. The box is a gift. The gift is a pair of brand-new LeBron BNLMZVVVV1 21’s – the latest and most acronymed pro model basketball shoe to date. The boy laces up the shoes. The boy sprouts a pubic hair.
With a storebought sense of confidence, the boy returns to his school and approaches the ball-playing gaggle of pre-teens with a certain Akron, Ohio swagger. The other boys, sensing a day of reckoning is on the horizon, pause their game of theatrical three-pointers and questionable charges to take note of the boy. Their stares could burn a hole in his LeBron BNLMZVVVV1 21’s. Someone gives the boy a bunch of crushed up chalk from Mrs. Olsen’s science lab. He liberally applies the chalk to his hands and tosses the excess into the ether.
“Game time, [EXPLETIVE]”
What was once a 4’11”, 76-pound punching bag has morphed into a 5’4”, 123-pound man-child. Our boy now overpowers 5’7” Kyle in the low post; our boy actively seeks opportunities to set bone-crushing screens; our boy is a menace out there.
The boy will now pursue basketball until he is cut from JV before his senior year of high school because “well son, we think you’re too old for this team” but, dammit, he learned some valuable lessons on the court. And it is all because of the shoes.
Phew. Enough italics! It’s like reading sideways. As if reading isn’t hard enough, I tell ya! Anyways, what if running could introduce a more steady flow of pro-model shoes onto the feet of burgeoning track stars? Growing up, I would have loved the opportunity to let me parents spend outrageous amounts of money on the latest Air Flanagan. Being able to wear the same gear as your sports heroes is hugely appealing to all children and a select group of grown men desperately living vicariously through Tom Brady. An Air Flanagan would breathe confidence into the heart of any young runner as they maneuver on and off the cross country course.
Let’s take a look at some of the current options for runner-centric pro-model shoes. (Artist renderings done by Paul Snyder)
The Go-Go Gold Air Zoom Centro MaxFly Extendz
An ode to the 1,500-meter gold medalist from the Rio Olympics, Matt Centrowitz Jr., this latest Nike offering is pure gold. Literally. This racing flat is fire gilded with an amalgam of gold and mercury. It is incredibly dangerous both on and off the track due to the aforementioned high percentage of mercury.
The CoburnUp WaterWave 3K
New Balance crafted this shoe specifically for 3,000-meter steeplechase star Emma Coburn. Instead of laces, this shoe has velcro. And instead of spikes, this shoe is a water shoe. Like the type your mom would make you wear to the public pool so the hypodermic needles didn’t puncture your foot entirely. This is most certainly a regression in terms of technology.
The FORD ONE ONE
HOKA ONE ONE is bullish on using a single name for their shoes, and they didn’t change up the recipe when it came to their latest racing flat: the FORD ONE ONE. This ill-conceived racing flat is a military-grade combat boot. It is incredibly difficult to run in. Ford Palmer, a HOKE ONE ONE athlete, is a football player moonlighting as a very fast miler. He does not make running look relatively easy, though. We believe HOKA ONE ONE created this racing flat with Ford Palmer in mind.
The NeelyWheely ULTRALIGHTBEAMBoost
Leaving no stone unturned, adidas crafts the Neely Spence Gracey pro-model marathon racing flat to be rollerblades. The designer of this concept shoe was quoted as saying, “I’m not sure this is legal, but her named rhymed with Wheely – so we went for it.” They didn’t even attempt to reinvent the wheel with this shoe, and that’s fine.