I'm sure we've done this before, but an article on the front page about the history of adidas spikes floods me with nostalgia for my Tokyo 64s. Bought in spring 1966 and raced in until 1969, these kangaroo leathers were my most important possession .. . by far. Just lacing them up for a meet filled me enormous confidence and power!
Those were great shoes. What I used to like about that kangaroo leather was how soft it was. One never wore socks with those shoes. The moisture from your feet would then mold the shoes to your feet. In the 1960s no other shoe compared to Adidas. If I was only able to run faster....
I had a friend in college who worked for Harold Schwab in his shoe store. Harold told him that he would get his kangaroo leather Adidas spikes a size too small, put them on and then dangle his feet in the steeple pit. They would dry to the shape of his foot and give him the feel he liked for the 400 hurdles.
I am holding a pair of spikes I wore circa 1949-50. Heavy cowhide, thick leather soles. six removable spikes. I don't know who made the shoes but they did not have stripes. We did not soak them in water but our coach made sprinters wear a size too small... I cannot even get my toes in them now.... I think the theory was they were so uncomfortable we would run faster so we could pull them off.
lonewolf wrote:I am holding a pair of spikes I wore circa 1949-50. Heavy cowhide, thick leather soles. six removable spikes. I don't know who made the shoes but they did not have stripes. We did not soak them in water but our coach made sprinters wear a size too small... I cannot even get my toes in them now.... I think the theory was they were so uncomfortable we would run faster so we could pull them off.
I remember an old coach who used to mention that theory... scary stuff.
Totally agree. I got my Adidas Tokyo spikes in January 1970 just in time for the indoor state meet my senior year. I think they cost $19.95, which was super expensive at the time. They were the greatest spikes I'd ever seen and felt absolutely perfect.
I just remembered that for my senior year (1969) I had taught myself the Flop and bought a pair of adi HJ shoes. I'm almost sure they were called 'Meteor' to go with their middle-of-the-line 'Comet' spikes. They had spikes in the heel and were white with black stripes. Flopping (the ONLY one who did) 6' in the Connecticut prep school league, I was HOT STUFF! But in my Tokyos . . . oh baby . . . I was a phenom in the 180LH, second in the NE prep champs (Exeter, Andover, Deerfield, Mount Hermon, Hotchkiss, Loomis, etc.). And then I went to the left coast for college and discovered how truly non-competitive NE really was!
In the early 1960s my first pair of spikes were an ancient pair I found in grandparents' basement. They were a pair of black leather shoes that had been last worn by my uncle about a decade before. They lasted a season before they literally fell apart on my feet while I was running (fortunately at practice not a meet). My next pair were an American company. They were heavy and had a spike plate so spikes could be replaced.
Finally in my junior year I felt confident in wearing Adidas. My teammates and I would travel to lower Manhattan to purchase them. The old warehouse had high ceilings with shelves filled with shoes. In the early 1960s Adidas spikes were nonreplicable. I remember one athlete grinding down his blunt spikes from the year before into sharp points so that he could wear them on Madison Square Garden's wooden track.
In college in the mid 1960s there were now all weather tracks. Adidas added a light spike plate so spikes could now be switched. I remember on those long bus trips changing over from short spikes to long spikes. How difficult it was to chip off the hard composition from the all weather tracks.
The last pair I had were Aztec Golds. For years it was a mystery what happened to those until I was cleaning out the trunk of a car I was getting rid of and found them wedged between the spare tire and the side of the trunk. The Kangaroo skin was mildewed and torn. I cried.
Yeah, I've got nostalgia re: Adidas spikes also...in the early 60's had my Melbourne Adidas...with the green stripes. Loved them. I'd never wear them in practice because I wanted to have the great, light, ready to roll feeling in the races.
My teammates and I would travel to lower Manhattan to purchase them.
That would be Carlsen (sp?) Imports, 300 Broadway! I sent away for my first pair in 1955, paying ~$30. SkyBlue w/ White Stripes, kept on the top shelf of my bookcase, for use in Meets only.
Mal Whitfield had a White w/ Black Stripes for Indoors that I couldn't duplicate until a couple of years at USC, where they were standard issue--always longish fixed spikes, perfect for the USC Cromwell Field cinder track, and OK for the harder clay tracks like Compton, Fresno, Modesto, Bakersfield, etc.