Tyres Help Marathon Runners ‘Tread’ Across the Finish Line
The 27th running of the London Marathon on April 13 saw approximately 46,500 participants cover the 26 miles 385 yards between Blackheath and St. James’s Park – including six wearing footwear offering good rolling resistance and a speed rating way in excess of anything actually attained on the day. The six men, Maasai warriors, chose to compete in shoes made from recycled car tyres and held together with iron nails.
“They are very comfortable,” said Isaya, the leader of the Maasai group, speaking to the Mail on Sunday newspaper. The men were participating in the marathon to raise funds for their drought-afflicted home village in northern Tanzania. “I wear them every day for looking after the cattle. They are good for chasing lions. We can run very fast in them.”
The shoes are made by local craftsman, and the Maasai pay for their footwear purchases through bartering, with goats the preferred currency for the transaction. One goat is sufficient to see a Maasai stride home sporting a new tread pattern under his feet. And when fitted with a pair – or perhaps we should say set – of tyre shoes, impressive speeds are indeed achievable. The shoes appear to be particularly well suited to the distinctive Maasai running style, which to European eyes more closely resembles bouncing than our traditional method of running.
The Mail on Sunday’s own man took the shoes for a test run before the marathon, and found he was unable to complete more than a half-mile. He reported that “there is a pain factor for the soft Westerner to work through.” As with many things in life, however, taste in shoes is a matter of personal preference – upon examining a pair of British running shoes Isaya declared “I have never tried your kind of running shoes. They don’t look very good.” The warrior’s own thoughts on our nation’s tyres were, regrettably, not recorded.