Flushed with success at graduating from C25K I decided to buy myself some running kit.
Up to now I had been running in a pair of shorts originally designed for swimming in and a t-shirt from my leisure couturier of choice, TU (recently relocated closer to the wine aisle, thanks Saisbury’s). No-name Chinese shoes and cheap socks made by Indonesian slave-children completed my amateur's ensemble. But as a new ambassador for the C25K brand, I felt I needed to be a more responsible and upbeat consumer.
I last owned a track suit in 1971 at a time when most sports gear was made, like Pakistani Bokhara carpets, from the recycled wool of well-used British army socks. Co-incidentally, 1971 was also the year when the Nike brand was first launched in Oregon but the whole sports clothing revolution had rather passed me by over the last 43 years. So I was faintly alarmed to find myself in sports shops on Saturday browsing the rails in the company of a lot of very young people.
I started in a smart boutique called Up and Running where a muscular South African (who combined charming, helpful and scary in an unusual mixture) described how they would float over my quads if I chose the larger size. (“Quads?” I thought “What are they and do I still have any?”) I retreated to the initimacy-free brightness of a shed called Sports Direct in the shopping centre.
Then came the dilemma. What kind of a runner was I? Was I Adidas? (featureless and slightly serious) Nike? (featureless but a bit swooshy). Probably not, so I went in search of a British design brand I could patronise. Was I Lonsdale geezer with that bad kind of British sixties glamour that mixes Carnaby Street, Henry Cooper and the BNP? Could I could buy Karrimor shoes when they should be offering me bike panniers? Was I a clean-cut Slazenger chap, at home on the tennis court since Ralph and Albert of that ilk launched their first tennis ball in 1881? Should I support second-division Umbro, natives of Manchester since 1924?
Oddly, I plumped for Everlast, despite them featuring pictures of ripped boxers from the Bronx, an image they have used ever since Jack Dempsey asked Jacob Golumb to make him a head protector that would last. So I am now the proud owner of a delightful black hoodie that makes me look less like Rocky Balboa than his alcoholic Uncle Paulie.
Googling around the world of sporting brands when I got home I was happy to find that Everlast is now British – part of the all-encompassing Sports Direct plc which owns most the above brands and is in turn largely owned by reclusive billionaire and saviour of Newcastle United, Mike Ashley. My £16.99 will be heading for Shirebrook in Nottinghamshire, not to New York (so that’s all right then).
So hey, Mike, a message from your latest customer, how about promoting C25K in your 400 shops?