Parting ways with beloved shoes

In my new Dutch running column I talk about the meaning of running shoes. Over the years piles of worn out sneakers had been gathering dust in my closet. I wasn’t wearing them but I also wasn’t throwing them out. They seemed to be waiting. But for what?

The problem was that many shoes had gained some meaning during my running life. I like light shoes and the ‘minimalist’ trend has been good for my form, but I am no barefoot runner. I need shoes and I go through them quickly, being not that light and running a lot.

Different, run-down pairs of Brooks, New Balance and Saucony shoes represented different races, experiences, pr’s in my mind. Memories were tied in with the way a specific pair felt. When I think about my pr at the Amsterdam Marathon (and I sometimes do) I involuntarily think of those sweet white and green Kinvaras.

Most of these shoes were too worn down even for Shoe4Africa, the great organization run by my friend Toby Tanser. I refused to add the sneaker pile the trash pile on the street, though. And then I finally learned about Nike’s ReUse A Shoe program. They collect shoes like mine, recycle them, and turn the material into the surface of running tracks, basketball floors, and so on.

I love that idea: my shoes serving a new life as a bouncy underground for kids and runners who knows where in the United States. So I drove to New Jersey and found a collection point. The smile on my face in the photo is fake; it was still sad to part ways with my speedy friends of the Amsterdam Marathon.

Happy running to all. Or, you in Amsterdam, happy skating!

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