Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is the Jordan Brand branching out into track & field?

As some of you who follow me on both Facebook and Twitter well know, your old blogger was pretty much out sick all of last week, as the combination of traveling nine time zones to Bydgoszcz, Poland for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, the lack of proper rest during the trip, and the stresses of work rendered me useless afterwards.

Returned phone calls? Wasn't happening. Email reply? Only if it was short enough for me to reply on my iPhone or iPad. Anything else? Tuned out.

Last week was pretty much recover and take massive quantities of Nyquil, aspirin, tea with lemon juice, throat lozenges, and hot soup. Nothing tasted good all week until the brunch for my little niece Jana's ninth birthday party on Sunday.

Between playing Madden 2009, getting hooked on Cro-Mag Rally on the iPad, and looking at Facebook photos from the World Cross Country Championships posted by others not named Paul Merca (I'm still working on it…), I found time to peruse a few track-related blogs, one of which was Steve Ritchie's "Steve Ritchie On Track" blog.

I first met Steve last summer at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin, where he was stringing for the Salem Statesman-Journal, and covering Oregon-affiliated athletes competing in Berlin.

While reading his account of last Saturday's Pepsi Team Invitational from Hayward Field, my eyes were drawn to the photo above he shot of Oregon's Mandy White in the blocks ready to run the women's 4 x 100 meter relay.

What drew my eyes to the photo had nothing to do with her sprint positioning in the blocks, or even the photographers sitting trackside.

Rather, it was a pair of Air Jordan sprint spikes on her feet.

You read that correctly--AIR JORDAN sprint spikes!!!

Yes, the same Air Jordan basketball brand that kids line up for outside NikeTowns and Foot Lockers.

Being a bit of a shoe fanatic myself (I confess to owning at least one pair of every model year of the Air Jordan basketball shoe for the last 25 years), I admit that if I were a sprinter competing now, I'd want a pair of Air Jordan sprint shoes now--at least my feet will feel like Mike's!

In all fairness, Nike's Jordan Brand does sponsor a track & field athlete--Paralympian April Holmes, who won a gold medal at the Beijing Paralympics. And yes, they have athletes from other sports besides basketball who endorse the brand, including baseball's Derek Jeter, linebacker Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins, defensive end Dwight Freeney of the Indianapolis Colts, and wide receiver Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers.

After reading Steve's account, I dropped a note to our friends at the mighty Swoosh to see if they could shed some light on Mandy's spikes. I've yet to hear a reply from them, but I will certainly let you know what they tell us!

PS--If you've seen this photo from the 2009 South Carolina state high school cross country championships, you'll note that a runner wearing Jordans won the state meet!

NOTE: Photo courtesy Steve Ritchie, "Steve Ritchie On Track"

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