Bringing it barefoot…Zola Budd style…
I knew that Vibram, the famous Italian manufacturer of sole shad picked up speed with the promotion of barefoot running over the past two years with their Vibram Five Finger shoes.
The five finger shoes have been flying high with a lot of buzz with funky footwear heads, runners, and people who are looking for any thing to rescue ailments in their feet. However, after reading this SFGate article, another barefoot running concept appears ready for tackling the market.
When you consider that there are waiting lists for each Vibram batch, you have to assume that the big-name manufacturers of Nike, Adidas, Asics, Mizuno, and others are going to jump into the foray for a counter-attack.
Despite the success of the Nike Free Running shoe line, I would like to see how Nike responds with the Five Finger shoes.
When the Nike Free was first released, even this blogga had a terrible time with durability issues and was about to give-up on the concept. However, since the restructuring of the original line from 2006, I’ve been a huge fan of the Nike Free models, but how about a new version of the Air Rift from ’95?
The Air Rift certainly deserves a classic rating for sneakerheads. The original Rift was designed with barefoot running in mind and to emulate the minimal shoe methods that were found in the high-altitude running ranges of Kenya’s Rift Valley which is a hotbed for producing world-class runners since the ’60s. (Build your knowledge of ’68 and ’72 Gold Medalist, Kip Keino, the lineage is amazing.)
The Air Rift was an innovative shoe and oozed style like no other running shoe when the model debuted. I can still remember the funk that emanated from runners wearing them in their post-race runs.
However, as seen with most innovative shoe models, (Shox, AF1s, sport sandals) they all go the way of the Crocs and find the mainstream boom. As for the Rift, blame Madonna and her fashionista cohorts in the mid-90s, and all of a sudden, we saw hot pink, leopard skin, and other horrendous color combinations that absolutely tore at the core of the Rift and relegated them to the same collection as the Nike AquaSock.
Perhaps Zola Budd was way ahead of the game in the early ’80s? Who knows? Maybe we’re looking for another fad to jump on for an edge and to get closer to the ground. Yet, with all of the success that is coming from new methods in training barefeet, here’s a thumbs-up to protecting those pads…No more bandaged toes, right.
The cool thing is that the Vibram shoes are releasing the models in trickles. After viewing my boy’s pair last night at IO, I have to say that I’m highly impressed by the durability of the shoe especially when I see that they’re not only washable, but can handle the grit and grime of city streets.
After spending a strong portion of the decade on Belk Track in Chapel Hill and watching UNC Runners running barefoot on the field for training, I’m digging the fact that another company has pushed the edge for training purposes. Another benefit is that we may be seeing a shoe model that will push the Nike Free models in the marketplace for emulating the barefoot running experience and training.
I just hope that we’re not seeing the second wave of the Crocs because the Five Fingers concept is truly a smart shoe that is worn by smart people.
Off the Front Toe,