How The Shoe Evolution Changed The Marathon

Runners once had to visit a cobbler for their racing flats.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

Runners once had to visit a cobbler for their racing flats.

It can be argued that shoes (or lack thereof) make the runner. But when former Boston Athletic Association coach Michael Pieroni listens to athletes blame shoes for a bad race, he thinks back to a time when runners weren’t afforded the choices and technology they are today.

Sports Museum of New England curator and runner Richard Johnson remembers the days before running shoe stores were ubiquitous.

He recalls trips to Blue Ribbon Sports in Framingham, Mass., which was supposedly the first and only running store in New England. Johnson says runners had to enter the store like a speakeasy, climbing stairs and entering through an unmarked door.

“You had to make the pilgrimage,” Johnson remembers. “Or make sure you had the right shoe size and have someone do it for you.”

This was the 1970s. Over one-hundred years ago, when runners were first tackling the Boston Marathon, the concept of a running shoe was unheard of. Marathoners had to visit cobblers or visit a shoe factory.

For More: Metrowest Daily News