The Search For A Sponsor

On their last legs?
On their last legs?

I’d like to think this all sprang from a more exalted instinct. A vision of myself still-framed. Captured from a low angle mid-stride my face set in a determined expression. My eyes focused on the finish line out of view but just ahead. Perhaps I’m shattering an age-group record, or upholding my promise to a charitable group. Or maybe I’m at the Games bringing home another medal for America. If any one of those conditions were true, I’d feel a lot better about what I need to do.

Instead, this all started because I need a new pair of running shoes.

Over the last couple of days I’m exerting a lot more effort when I run, and I feel like I’m pounding the pavement harder than usual. I haven’t yet felt the hamstring strain which, for me, is a sure sign my shoes have passed their expiry date. But, when I thought about how many miles I’ve run since I first slipped them on, I realized my shoes were running on borrowed time and I would need to replace them soon. I realized all of this during last night’s six-miler, and I inwardly groaned at the thought of laying out so much cash to replace a pair of shoes which still looked fine and which I’d only used for a few months. Just then, it hit me-I needed a shoe deal.

Of course, for an unknown like me landing a sponsorship deal with a shoe or an apparel manufacturer is a long shot, and there ar a lot obstacles to overcome before I slip on a pair of sponsored kicks. For one thing I’m not a well-known athlete, and I haven’t spent my life either training for or competing in world class running events. I’m not particularly fast, I’ve come to the sport relatively recently and haven’t run that many events. I don’t represent a charitable organization or cause a shoe company could get behind and build a campaign around, I don’t have a compelling story, and I’m not really photogenic.

Most companies would probably dismiss my application for sponsorship based on those facts alone, but I’m looking for the one visionary firm that can see past these supposed negatives. The one that realizes I may not be well-known but then again most runners aren’t. (Quick, without thinking, name three marathon runners of any nationality.) Someone who sees I may not have trained as a runner all of my life, but finds my training logs reveal a serious and committed athlete. I need to align with a company that finds my story might not be all that different from that of many other runners, but like me takes pride knowing I went from couch to a full marathon (3:35:31 thank you very much) in about a year. As for the modeling side of things, I’m sure they can take care of that with make up and lighting.

While I’m afraid I’m soon going to have to go to my favorite sporting goods store and plunk down a wad of cash for some new shoes, I’m hoping it will be the last time I need to do so. I’m hoping in the coming weeks I’ll partner with a company which wants to take a unknown, slow, mid-packer and transform him into a unknown, slow, mid-packer festooned with items from their product line.

And if any running shoe public relations folks are reading this-I’m a ten and a half.

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