at the races Don’t Change Running Shoes, they told me. You’ll Get Injured. Now I...

Don’t Change Running Shoes, they told me. You’ll Get Injured. Now I Own 75 Pairs of the Same Shoe.


Fifty years ago, I bought my first pair of ASICS shoes and I have owned over seventy-five pairs since. I’ve worn them in twenty-four marathons in eleven countries. I have nodded knowingly to runners in Buenos Aires, Reykjavik, Budapest and Berlin when we notice we are wearing the same shoes. I wear them because they are a lifelong trusted friend.

In the mid ’70s, they were known as Onitsuka Tiger shoes. Shortly thereafter, the brand became ASICS Tiger. Surprisingly, long before my marathoning career, my first ASICS purchase was wrestling shoes that I used to win the GMIAA (Greater Montreal Interscholastic Athletic Association) heavyweight wrestling championship in 1974. Little did I know then that this shoe purchase would ignite a lifelong partnership for me with ASICS—not with wrestling shoes, but running shoes. 

My first marathon in Vancouver 1982, I wore ASICS Tiger shoes. They were the cool, hip brand that real runners’ wore. As a former wrestler and university football player turned Clydesdale, I wanted to look like a real runner (at least from my ankles down). 

CAN’T LOSE SHOES: A small portion of the ASICS GEL-KAYANO collection of Rick Shaver’s.

More marathons and races in the 1980s and 1990s and always in my ASICS—but why? Some people only wear Nike. Some, Adidas. I had no shares or connection in any way with the company. Sure, I had some loyalty to a well-known athletic brand, but it was more personal for me. Running friends told me “Don’t change shoes—you’ll get injured,” which (rightly or wrongly) I took very seriously. Having ASICS on my feet became good karma, especially during those tapering days of self-doubt before a marathon. While fretting race logistics, proper fuelling, hitting the wall, GI nervousness . . . at least I didn’t have to worry about my shoes!

Since running the Cleveland marathon in 2008 I have owned at least fifty pairs of ASICS KAYANOS. All colours. Same size: 11. No need to try them on in the running store. ASICS tweaks them every year with new technology/wizardry (see the review of 31, here)—not always to my exact liking, but it works. 

ROAD WARRIOR: Shaver, in his GEL-KAYANO, at the Boston Marathon.

I’ve purchased commemorative KAYANOS created for the Tokyo and New York Marathons. Have worn them in all six of the Abbott World Majors races, along with races in Washington DC, Amsterdam, Montreal and Havana. Trail races, half marathons—even in sweltering 30C in Chicago and unthinkable minus-35 in the Ottawa Winterman race—my KAYANOS always (always) got me to the finish line.

IF IT AIN’T BROKE: When Rick Shaver heard he’d get injured if he changed his shoes, he took that advice to heart. He hasn’t changed shoes in forty years.

Like any good lifelong friend, I treat each of my KAYANOS with respect. They begin as a hard-working training shoe, then a race shoe, then a street shoe, a lawn-cutting shoe, then, finally, a shoe donated to Africa. They live a good life, my shoes.

Every now and again, I get tempted to try something else. ASICS makes carbon-plated shoes and I’ve been curious about trying the Nike shoes worn by Kipchoge. But distance runners are creatures of habit. We eat the same breakfast. I like oatmeal and honey. We eat the same pre-race dinner. I have rigatoni. And for me, I wear the same sneakers.   

From wrestling shoes to running shoes: It’s been a great run. 

Are you loyal to one brand or do you shop around? Let us see your brand devotion and the three people with the most of any one company will receive free MarsQuest sunglasses. Show us your fandom in the comments and win the world’s greatest running shades.


  1. Must definitely be a long distance runner thing… I have the same breakfast every day and have worn ASICS Cumulus shoes every run for the last 20 years. I usually go thru 3 pairs a year so I’m guess I’m at 60+ paírs by now. I would never consider changing for another brand or model!

  2. When I started running 30+ years, my 1st pair of running shoes were ASICs Cumulus and I kept with their brand to this day. I wait until the new version of the shoes comes out so I can buy the old version on sale. I am now using ASICS Gel-Rocket court shoes for pickleball.


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