by John Schrup
You will not believe what a harrowing week it was! There, for few brief moments, I thought we would not make it out alive. Forty something years passed in front of my mind’s eye in an instant. And from that very second, my life was forever changed and I vowed never again to take for granted each breath, each sunrise, each child’s smile. I thought I would never see my family again. It was like that painting, The Scream, except running.
You see, there were bears.
Well, I never actually saw them, but I know people who did. I talked to them. The people, not the bears. And they said it was really scary. Like, change your pants scary. Probably, though, we were safe, because Ian was in town. If you don’t know who Ian Adamson is, he’s this Australian guy who works for Newton. Super fit dude. The kind of fit that makes Chuck Norris primp. Because Ian was in town, we were totally safe, even if we had corned some bear’s cubs and heckled them or some shit. Not that Ian would have killed the bears had he needed to confront them. He is more confident than that. The need to kill one of these bears—or all of them, if they were in a bear gang—wouldn’t even have shown up on his radar. Not even if they were grizzlies. Not even if it was grizzlies and sharks. With bazookas. Mr. Norris would have been looking in the bushes for some pull ups, but not Ian. He would have communicated with them. In their own language. In their own dialect. After talking to Ian, the bears would have let us pass. They would have probably offered to time our workout, if Ian had brought it up.
If he hadn’t been there, that shit would’ve been messed up. Scrawny runners all mangled and screaming, clinging to tree trunks, sobbing and gurgling and shit. But who knows, it probably would’ve been ok still. Ian would have heard the screams and ran—barefoot, with really good form—from wherever he was and stitched up the wounds and bites and scrapes with, I don’t know, twigs and yogurt or something. So, either way, we were probably cool, no matter what.
So anyway, there were bears, and it was bad ass!
It really wasn’t anything like that, because we were in the St. Julien, which is the kind of hotel that if kings and queens were in town they would annex and make part of whatever country they were visiting from. It’s super swank. The shower in my bathroom was as big as the entire bathroom in my house. And in the bathroom was this really nice robe—a really, really nice one. I didn’t try it on though because it was so heavy I couldn’t lift it off of the pure solid gold thing it was resting on. The sheets were, like, 9000 thread count. I felt so guilty staying there I slept on top of the sheets. On the counter of the kitchen in my room were all these fancy nuts and chocolates and spring waters and wines and shit. I practically had a Whole Foods in my hotel room. I made sure to wear my nicest tshirt when I walked through the lobby so people would think I lived there or something. I wore the black socks so I’d look more, you know, classy.
So Newton put us—Amish James, Subtle Chuck and myself and then some people who were kinda like us from running shops that are nothing like Rogue—up in this fancy place for the three days we were there and when we weren’t living like Sultans and shit we were either on the trails, wrestling bears, or in the classroom, eating pizza and learning about Cuba. And I’m sure that the number one question on your collective minds is, Did he drink the koolaid? Ok, so your number one question is probably, Will this guy ever shut the **** up? And the answer is no, but I’d like to think that you’re interested in shoes and our trip, so I’m gonna go with that.
Yeah, I drank the koolaid. But I didn’t inhale. It was served, yeah, but it wasn’t forced on us, we got to choose to drink or not. Yes, my perceptions about Newton were changed. Yes, I am more comfortable with their shoes on our wall. And yes, I’ve been running in the shoes—the Distance. But I’m probably not going to change my political or religious views. I’m still making out with my Hagio and A5 and Adios and Kinvara. But now the Distance is in the rotation. I’m still getting the feel for them, and I’m not entirely comfortable in them yet, but they will get some air play for sure.
Before I give you all the goods on the trip, I’ll tell you what changed my mind and then you can sit around and chew on that for a while. I’ve been to several of these things—these seminars, conventions, koolaid distribution meetings—that the shoe companies host each year. And I’ve been to fancier ones. Bigger events for sure. But this was the first time in which I left feeling like I hadn’t been sold something. Yeah, they wanted to change my mind on the shoes; they were selling something, to be sure. But it wasn’t just the product. Shit man, we didn’t even talk Newton shoes until the last hour or two of the trip. They didn’t even give us the spiel on each shoe, present the different models and show us the new colors and all that other shit, until we were practically leaving. No, we talked running. Running. Injuries. Biomechanics. Fitness. Stretching. Strengthening. Form. Running. And it was glorious.
And, when all was said and done they were the first who said, you know, these might not be for everyone. This ain’t the magic bullet. You’ve got to be healthy, strong, flexible. You’ve got to get strong so you can run with good form. We talked running 95% of the time, and then we talked shoes. And they were surprisingly honest about things that other companies haven’t been. It was really eye opening. I’ve been to these things where the hosts would bash other companies. Where the hosts came across as almost arrogant in their presentations. Where the hosts asked us to join an exclusive club—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—and then we find out that half the country got invited too. This was the first time I left one of these things where I didn’t have a slightly bad taste in my mouth. Or at least, I didn’t feel like I’d been to a koolaid party and all I got was this lousy hangover.
So, there you go. You’ll get all the goods in the next few installments. Until then, I’m going for a run in all this crazy oxygen we have here.