Belonging – no race report this time

Attention, attention. This post contains open advertising, which is kind of compensated by getting free shoes. The latter is not the reason for my opinion but might be seen as such, if you don’t trust me. #ad #altrarunningeurope and whatever hashtags this needs.

During my evolution towards a distance runner, I came across the obstacle of toe blisters, knee pain and other niggles that called for a reassessment of my footwear and gait. See, e.g., here. After some tries from ‘traditional’ running shoes towards less drop, straight big toes and ‘barefoot’ shoes (one of my favourite nonsense words) without any cushioning or heel and a wide roomy toebox, I stumbled upon the brand Altra. The tip came from the ultra list, for sure. This was exactly what I needed. Some sort of Birkenstocks for running. Well, without the strong foot bed. It took me a while to get a hold on a pair of Superior 1.5, via Amazon from the US, with picking up from the customs and paying import taxes. I loved the shoes. They were wide, comfy, pretty direct to the ground, and looked a lot like the shoes of the rabbit with the fast shoes from the Janosch tales 🙂 Almost. Only, they were a tad too short. I already noticed that my running (and expecially upping the distance) made for some serious foot growth, or less shoe pressure tolerance. Every now and then I needed to go up a size. From EU42-43 over many steps to 46.5 that I wear at the moment. So, I got another two Superiors, and, as the shipment cost was more or less the same, another few Altras that were on sale. The 3sum, and some other I need to look up, they are still somewhere in the back of the shelf. For my first Brocken-Challenge, I got the LonePeak 2.0, which did a great job, but it became clear that I need the immediate ground feel and felt a bit blind with the cushioning of them. So, Superiors it was. I made it all the way from the unlucky 2.0 over two pairs of the refined 2.0, a pair of 3.0, two of the 3.5 where I mixed colors (left black, right red at the office, left red, right black at home) and got plenty of comments for that, finally to two pairs of 4.0, both in grey/red as they were on sale. This was sidelined by a plethora of pairs for special puposes: LonePeak 2.0 Neoshell for winter running, later when I decided that my feet will be wet anyway winter walking, LonePeak 3.0 Neoshell mid for alpine hiking, the King MT for exclusively trail runs and alpine running, Torin 2.0 for the late stretches of looong races when I needed cushioning and more room (upped them another size), Escalante, two pairs of One V3 for road running. I am pretty sure I missed one or the other pair.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make is, I am nuts for these shoes. They fit my square feet perfectly, they comply with my running style (that I refined for these shoes over the span of a year!) and they offer the right amount of cushioning and grip for what I do. I began to convince more and more people to try them, which got much easier since there is a European web shop… But my main point in thoses sales discussion was always: Do whatever you want, but I’ll never wear other shoes for running again.

Then came an announcement over Facebook that they (Altra) were looking for people, hobbyists, that would like to represent the brand as their ‘team red’. Wow, I thought. As much as I like them, they better get me on board! Bummer, this was only for the US. But a tad later I found out that there will be a European section coming. So I waited and finally found the instructions on how to apply and so I did. Longish silence. And then a congratulations letter that they chose me for the team, with a pile of lawyer-speech filled documents that I am supposed to sign, stating that I put stuff like the first paragraph on  top of all my Altra-mentioning posts, that I should post some ad every month, and how this should look like. Ugh, I was turned off immediately. This was so not me and my connection (and, yes, love) to these shoes. This was binding, boring, and also pushing. So I declined, stating my reasons, and was a bit sad that this took such a turn.

But I got an immediate reply in the nice and personal tone that I was used from my contacts with Altra. (I once was given an internal excel sheet of how the different models relate to each other size wise, so I could order my shoes from the US where a return was prohibitvely expensive.) Of course I understood the implications of me putting Altra in good light on social media without mentioning that they gave me stuff for free. I am glad that such a disclosure is obligatory nowadays. And I understand that a legal document will always sound like a legal document. So, the personal connection, the understanding of my feelings and the assurement that they still would want me to join the team, I retraced my resignement. And was excited of what this will bring.

Within all the excitement and installation of the team red then came Corona, and the cancellation of all races. Bummer. The team exists, but is not really visible apart from some facebook posts. Still, I am excited how this will take off once the race scene is opening up again. I am looking forward to meeting these people in person!