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Running is the only major sport that doesn’t require a major investment in equipment, but there are still some basics, for instance, clothing, shoes, and a water-carrying device. As for the controversial area of shoes, Ayres says, “I tend to get the same kind I’ve had for many years: medium-weight, fairly sturdy Asics or Saucony, mainly because it’s what I’m used to and they’ve been fine and I don’t see a need for change.”
Ayers once evaluated shoes for ‘Running Times’ and his long experience has made him skeptical of the recent trend in barefoot running or minimalist shoes. “I’ve been through that,” he says. “Most young runners today don’t remember the fad years ago for racing shoes – runners would train in 13-ounce shoes and then change to 7-ounce shoes on race day. I did that for a while, but it really burned up my feet.”
If you’re going to put in high mileage on rugged trails with roots, rocks, holes, and snakes, you’re going to need shoes that are reasonably solid. At last year’s JFK 50, which covers part of the Appalachian Trail and takes runners past Civil War battle sites, Ayres says, “Out of a field of 1,000, not a single person was running barefoot, and I didn’t see any minimalist shoes out there either.”
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