Following Ron Wallwork’s much praised recollections about his footwear we have great pleasure in featuring Guy Goodair’s ‘heel and toe’ memories.
When I first started race walking around 1958/9 I used a pair of Dunlop Flashes (either green or yellow). I can’t remember which.
In 1961 I went over to the Isle of Man for the TT Walk and bought a pair of heavy leather shoes from the Coop. They weighed a ton!
[Note from Tony Taylor for our overseas followers, COOP was short for the Cooperative Society, born of the 19th century and in my post-WW11 childhood a symbol of the attempt to develop a shopping alternative serving the people rather than profit.]
Then like most race walkers I got a pair from Harold Whitlock which served me for a few years before I got a pair of black leather ones from GT Laws – famous for making the spikes which Roger Bannister used for the first 4 minute mile.
The heels on these eventually wore down and at the time I worked for Sutcliffe Moulded Rubber Co. The chief chemist there, Mike Pysden took a keen interest in my racing career. At the time one toy was all the rage, a ball which if you threw it to the ground rebounded to a tremendous height – they were made of Polybutadiene (used in the manufacture of golf balls). Mike suggested that I had my shoes re-heeled with a slab of this as it would give me better rebound properties when my heel struck the ground. Not half it did – it was like walking on a trampoline. I was all over the shop. Needless to say I ditched them!
I was also buying shoes at the time from Norman Walsh of Bolton for fell running. Norman offered to make me a race walking pair which were superbly comfortable. Being a tight Yorkshireman, I’ve still got these along with the Laws and I still use them for an annual outing!
Other shoes I used were Adidas Marathons (won the Bradford in these). On a couple of occasions I wore a pair of the original Hush Puppies which were very comfortable.
Another brand I used for the longer distances were Karhus of Finland and they lasted me for ages.
Gola had a factory just down the road from us in Stanley (Wakefield). It was owned by the Lamb family. The Boss was known as ‘Clogger Lamb’ because they originally started out making clogs! Never fancied buying a pair even though they had a factory shop.
A shoe which was very popular and which I fancied but never got a pair were the German shoes ‘EB’ (stood for E Brutting). A couple of years ago we were in the Black Forest on holiday and I espied a pair on sale for 35 euro. I didn’t buy them though but regret it now.