Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



The History of Running – Have We Come Full Circle? 12

Posted on September 30, 2013 by Daniel Lofthouse
Abebe-Bikila

Abebe Bikila was known for running marathons barefoot, including his victory in the 1960 Olympics.

Of all the sports and exercises in the history of the world, the most fundamental and common is undoubtedly running. The prizes in the very first footraces were the largest. In the first footraces ever it was a race to elude predators. It is easy to visualize early man going into a sprint to reach the safety of a cave or fire while pursued by a sabre tooth tiger or equally ferocious animal. While hard to call it a sport with those stakes, it is none the less undoubtedly the origin of the sport of running.

As the centuries went past the first Marathon was thought to be run around 500 BC and the survival skill of running evolved into a sport. Since those earliest days the question of what is the best footgear to run in has been asked, answered, and refined hundreds of times. The sandals laced up around the ankles protected the feet from rough terrain but the earliest Olympiads foreswore those often times for bare feet to save those few ounces in weight. That is not dissimilar to the last 100 years where shedding of weight while preserving protection and support has become a billion dollar industry highlighted by the likes of Nike, Adidas, and New Balance among many others.

The technology and science has gone from the basics of protecting the soles of feet and proving traction, to increasing cushioning and comfort, to literally having loaded springs that artificially increase stride and speed.  Throughout all this advancement in technology, there were still famous runners like Abebe Bikila that won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Games while running the marathon barefooted. Read the rest of this entry →

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