Sneaker Century Outtakes

I invited Amber J. Keyser to say a few words about writing TFCB’s Sneaker Century, just out this spring. Reviews are glowing, and Booklist points out, “This [book] will be popular.”


Here’s what Amber has to say:

I wish you could see my pile of research notes for SNEAKER CENTURY: A HISTORY OF ATHLETIC SHOES. (It’s pretty astonishing!)

One of the hardest things about writing nonfiction is deciding which juicy historical tidbits get to go in the book and which ones get left out. (Sometimes I gnash my teeth and weep!)

Here’s a list of some of my favorite research findings that never found their way onto the pages of SNEAKER CENTURY.

• Still-visible toe imprints in the oldest moccasin ever found

• Roberta Gibb, who registered for the male-only Boston Marathon as “Bobbi” and ran with a team of protectors who kept race officials from dragging her off the course in 1966

• Tommie Smith’s and John Carlos’ black power protest at the 1968 Olympics, complete with Pumas on the podium

• Bo Jackson’s dominance in professional baseball and football

• First WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes and her Nike Air Swoopes

• Michael Johnson’s gold-plated track cleats

• Biomechanics of barefoot running

• Grit, guts, and focus of top ultra marathoner Ann Treason

• “Make pain your friend and you’ll never be alone.” — Ken Chlouber, miner and creator of the Leadville Trail 100 mile race

IMG_0098 (2)

Working on this book turned me into a trail runner. I am lucky to live near a huge forested park with great trails. I run all year long in sun, rain, or snow. I’ve got a new puppy, and I’m looking forward to when she is big enough to run with me. (And in case you were wondering… I wear New Balance!)

Recently my daughter and I have been entering 5K races together. Our favorites are mud and obstacle runs. During this one (photo above), our team wore angel costumes. (Our sneakers never recovered!)