It appears as if I spoke a bit too soon this week.
Just as I was commenting about how the prevailing wisdom on barefoot running from shoe industry executives was becoming one of cautioned acceptance rather than condescending ridicule, the CEO of a major retailer proved me spectacularly wrong.
Mike Golfredson, CEO (and “Chief Runner”) of Road Runner Sports - no, I’m not linking to them, purely out of spite – has taken a stand against barefoot running that, by comparison, makes the Brooks CEO look positively enlightened. The Chief Road Runner recently felt compelled to send the following out to his e-mail subscriber list:
I don’t have nearly enough time to go into the remarkable levels of ignorance this declaration demonstrates – and honestly, I can’t figure out which analogy best suits him. Part of me wants to compare him to an ostrich with his head in the sand, and another keeps thinking of some flunky deputy giving us the “Nothing to see here, folks, move along” speech as the house behind him is engulfed in flames. The statement also has a hint fear to it, an “Earth is flat!” kind of desperate insistence in response to ships leaving the shore in search of a wondrous New World.
(And those are just the first few analogies that came to mind. Believe me, there are plenty more.)
I’ve decided to treat this as I would a carnival barker or town crier, and casually disregard Chief Runner Golfredson while continuing on my merry way. If you want a more in-depth breakdown, Running Quest has an interesting analysis of why this fear-mongering is bad not only from a PR standpoint, but a business one. After all, even barefoot runners buy clothes and visors and watches and water packs – but I suspect that many of them will be buying from someplace other than Road Runner Sports for a while.