The Bad Old Days of Running Shoes!

I had a message from my old friend Steve yesterday, and he sent me a fascinating piece of running footwear history that I had never seen before.

Steve Bobenhouse is the Founder and owner of Fitness Sports in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.A.

He is one of those guys I refer to when people point the finger at running retail and tell me they just sell shoes and do not understand technology.

Steve, and many like him, has forgotten more about running footwear then I will ever know. And, after 34 years in the footwear game, he has a deep understanding of injury and biomechanics, and has moved swiftly with the times based on best available current evidence. It is not surprising given his background in engineering.

Steve sent me some photos of a shoe that basically was a time capsule of the thought processes regarding running shoes in the early 1980’s… control, control and CONTROL!

This shoe was unusual for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the manufacturer is Swiss brand Le Coq Sportif, a brand known more for hairy chests and apparel than footwear.  When they have delved into footwear, running was definitely not their forte!

The shoe was called the Dynatec, and the media blasts promised

260 grams of technical innovation

The media blurb goes on to champion all the features that were considered so important at the time this shoe was release, 1983.

The shoe was expensive, actually very expensive, USD100 in 1983, which equates to about USD270 in today’s money, more than a nile AlphaFLY!

This is what the Dynatec looks like


And these are the claims:

  1. A rigid support surrounds the back of the Dynatec
  2. When the outsole touches the ground, the foot is held perfectly straight
  3. The impact is absorbed by the increasingly dense layers of the sole and the concave profile of the tread
  4. ideally guides straight ahead, the foot is then helped by an arch support fitted on the outside of the shoe

OK.. so this is a “motion control ” shoe with a capital M!

but, there are some really innovative aspects to this shoe, like the multi-density midsole (even if it is sheet EVA!) and, especially the concave bottom unit, which I could see as a positive feature of a modern day running shoe.

I think you all know my thoughts about very rigid and extended heel counters and especially that wicked, massive, external EVA arch fill/support!

The upper is also really interesting and features a Blucher style lace to toe system  to allow for very accurate fitting all along the length of the shoe/foot



The velcro strap is added just in case there is not enough upper grip! I do not believe I have ever seen this combo in a running shoe.

All in all, a pretty interesting piece of kit!

I love history, becasue it teaches me stuff, like, what to embrace and what to let go.

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

Martin Luther King Jnr

This shoe has lesson in relation to what we might embrace for the future, and what we most definitely should consign to the past.

Thanks Steve!

Here is the full media blurb on the Dynatec for your reading pleasure!

Erratum: Steve has advised me that the midsole was actually microcell sponge rubber, more durable than EVA, but much more expensive!

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