Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Balance UNICEF “Magic” Shoes – Your Vote Needed

I love surprises! And this week, I had the most amazing surprise – I received a pair of UNICEF branded New Balance MT100 racing flats. What, UNICEF partnering with New Balance you ask?? No, these are a one-of-a-kind, hand painted shoes by shoe artist YK.

First, some context. Then, what I need from you.

Several months ago my running friend Christian offhandedly suggested that I should try to run a sub four-hour, 50K trail race. He went on to advise that the perfect course for this would be the Goblin Valley 50K. Knowing that I would need every advantage to break four hours, I purchased a pair of 7.8oz New Balance MT100 racing flats. While I couldn’t quite get under four hours (4:05), I found the shoes magical.

I found the shoes so magical that I couldn’t help showing people at work. For the most part colleagues were polite and compliant when I said, “Hold them! See how light they are!!” Though, something about their facial expressions and how they held the shoes with extended arms suggested they didn’t fully appreciate the magic.

After four years with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF I’m moving to a new opportunity that will give me more time for family, running and skiing. This past week my team held a going away party for me.

You’ve been there. It’s the requisite work good-bye party with gift. You know the moment is coming where you get the gift and that you can’t let your face reveal how you feel about the wall plaque that you will never hang, that crystal something that you will never take out of its box, or the book of quotes and sentiments that you know just aren’t real (I find these books are problematic in that they raise the question, “if they really felt this way about me – why were they such a&&holes to me??”)

So it’s that moment, and I’m handed a wrapped gift the size of a shoebox. On top, a Barbie doll has been tied down with gold ribbon. I release Barbie from her bondage, remove the wrapping paper, and open the box. Brilliantly branded UNICEF shoes in cyan blue!! OMG? But how? From where? What does Barbie have to do with anything?? So many questions race through my mind.
We’ll the story is this… My brilliant colleagues wanted to give me something that represented my passions; running + UNICEF. “Magic” shoes adorned with the UNICEF branding work that has been so much of my life the past four years - simply f’n brilliant!! To do this, they commissioned YK to create a one-of-a-kind UNICEF shoe just for me! Definitely check out this link

But here’s my dilemma – and what I need from you. Should the UNICEF “Magic” shoes be displayed in my new office, a timeless icon that will remind me of the great people I worked with at the U.S. Fund. Or, should I race in the shoes, and feel that those with whom I worked so closely are right there with me on the trail, literally experiencing in a down and dirty way the joy that running brings me. What is your vote?

Thank you to all of my colleagues at UNICEF and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The past four years have been the best four years of my professional career – largely in part because of you. It has been a privilege to work with you to create a world where no child dies of a preventable cause. Know that I, Jay Aldous, Believe in Zero


peter said...

I would vote for both. People should see these shoes. Race in them, and then display them. Frankly, I want a pair of "Magic" shoes. Maybe we can raid the OR shoe in February and convince NB to start making these en masse.


peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christian said...

Wow, what an incredible gift.
My vote would be for one "magical" run, then proudly display them for all to see.

matt campbell said...

please don't run in them-you beat me by one place in goblin valley and moab-wear some really bulky,heavy shoes will ya? just kidding me they are a piece of art and should be displayed..why ruin them,just race in some other NB100s

Jay Aldous said...

You've had a great season. Knowing that you'll be even faster next year, I'm going to need Magic shoes + some super magic mojo to stay up with you in 2010. J

Erik said...

After spending most of the day wrestiling with the moral implications of what to do with such a unique piece of art, I've decided that I agree with Peter and Christian. You should harness the mojo evident in the shoes, take them out on one epic race where you go for broke, and then find a place of honor for them. Their inherent style-and value-will only increase with a little dirt and sweat.

Anonymous said...

Did you end up running the Goblin Valley 50k in the NB 100's? I tried on a pair awhile back and loved the fit. I've yet to talk with anyone who has run a ultra in a pair. Did you slowly build up the mileage you ran in them? Did you have any trouble adapting to them? How long did it take you to build up to running say 20+ miles at a time? Would you run a race like the Wasatch 100 in them? The NB 100's are such a radical change compared to what I'm used too. Guess I am afraid of injury using such a minimal shoe. Sorry for the long question on your blog. My email is

BTW, my vote would be to race in them until they where showing some wear. Then put them on display.


matt said...

thanks for the compliment-this is a little off topic but I'm kinda new to all this so bear with me...I'm just wondering if you would wear the 100s in a 50 miler or 100 ..or just for shorter races like 50k's-I love mine but do worry about wearing them on my first forays into real ultrarunning

Ryu said...

The designer insisted her work was "made to be worn"

Displaying them after one or two solid runs sounds like a good idea to me.

I am tempted to order a pair of custom "Asian Sensation" magic shoes for my 50k+ in February....

Chuck said...

Racing shoes like that don't last more than a hundred miles anyway. Pick 2 or 3 steller races that aren't too muddy; ...that will put some good-times memories into the shoes.

I have a pair of skiing shorts with a July 4th lift ticket on them that I've since only worn a few times...good stuff!

Anonymous said...

I think you should save them & display them for all time. What an incredibly thoughtful gift!! You will regret it if you race in them & thrash the heck out of them. Just guessing there.

Jay Aldous said...

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I think the general sentiment is that the meaning and memories of the Magic shoes will be enhanced by running an epic race in them. Now I just need to decide what that race will be?? On that day when you see me at the starting line in my UNICEF Magic shoes.... Look out!! I'll be going for broke :)