My favourite shoes are my track spikes. I bought them on TradeMe seven years ago. Karl123 from the North Shore advertised them as “Nike distance spike M US11.5”. He or she said of them: “These spikes are awesome and I think I only used them once. Mint condition. They are perfect for running 5000m and 10000m on the track and would be great for track workouts.”
I thought: Well, Karl123, if you only used them once and already ascertained they are awesome that’s a pretty high recommendation. Especially if, during that one use, you managed to run a 5000m race, a 10000m and do a workout. That’s a run even Hiro Tanimoto would be proud of.
Prior to these shoes, I didn’t own track spikes. I had always just repurposed my cross country spikes with short stubby Christmas trees. These new-but-used track spikes were light, mesh and bright yellow. They looked like they were from the 1990s.
When they arrived they were in mint condition, as Karl123 had promised. And they proceeded to carry me to some of my finest track performances. I’ve run all my track PBs from 3000m to 10,000m in these shoes. In possibly my finest track performance, I finished fourth in the steeplechase at the 2014 NZ Track and Field Championships, despite crashing and falling twice.
My TradeMe history does not record how much I paid for these spikes but, from memory, it was about $15 plus postage.
I don’t know the make of the spikes. They have always just been my Nike Spikes. A few years after I bought them, Olympian Craig Kirkwood praised the spikes, told me the make and said he used to have the same pair which he raced in. I don’t believe his alias is Karl123 however.
TradeMe is often a great place for me to find cheap spikes – cross country and track – because people with big feet give either of those disciplines a go for a season (or less) before deciding that the big frames that go with their big feet are better suited to the roads.
Over time I came to believe they were lucky spikes. They didn’t require socks. They were light. They drained super fast when they went through the steeplechase pond. There is nothing much holding them together except old-school mesh and foot odour.
I would deliberately run my early season races when I was not sharp or fit in other shoes. Then later in the season, once I was fit and fast, I would switch to the neon yellow spikes and see my times magically tumble.
However, one recent season, as I was getting older and losing my top-end speed, I called upon the magic spikes too early in the season – a last-ditch measure to hold back Andrew Wharton – and they had no magic left. I had gone to the well too deep and too early and drained them of their power.
Now, as I put them away for another winter, I hope their battery will recharge. I whisper that I will show them more respect next summer. That I still believe in them. That together we can streak away from Andrew.