Nike. The brand needs no introduction. As a thirteen year old, I remember buying my first Nike product, they were a pair of Nike Mercurial Vapour football shoes. And while I was never a great football player, watching Cristiano Ronaldo wear the Mercurials and Thierry Henry wear the Tiempos made me fall in love with the Swoosh. I remember how I placed the shoes right next to me when I slept that night, and how disappointed I was when I disposed them a couple of years later. I get myself a lot of Nike shoes these days, but nothing beats the thrill of holding your first pair in your hands. I felt like I was holding a piece of greatness.
A couple of years later, I found my calling in running. I realised that running long distances and challenging myself gave me greater joy than beating opponents to score goals. And I remember how I begged my father to buy me the Nike Shox- and he did. I am more of a minimalistic runner now, but just having a pair of Nike Shox made me feel like a runner. On days when I felt like sleeping in and taking a day off, I would run because I would feel obligated to the shoes.
Five years down, most people would have changed. But I still get excited at the thought of a new shoe. Each time a brand launches a new running shoe, I make sure I visit the store and try the shoe out. I like to read reviews online, analyse shoes, compare them, and just smile at how childish I can be at times. Shoes and airplanes are two passions my father and I share since a long time.
Recently, Nike decided to kit me for the Delhi Half Marathon and Mumbai Marathon. And when I received a huge shipment in the last week of November, I felt really proud to be associated with a brand like Nike. My father, who has been running since twenty years, felt really proud that day, as did the rest of my family. I was also a part of the Nike offsite in Goa, and I spoke about running in India. The experience has been surreal.
People often ask me whether I am now a ‘Nike guy’, and whether I will now refuse to wear other brands. My answer always remains, that I have been a Nike guy since seven years now, when I bought my first product! Even if they would not have gotten in touch with me, even if they would have never known who I am, I would have still been a consumer.
On the 21st of December, I will be a race pacer at the Nike Outrun – a 4 km intercollegiate race that will see hundreds of young runners run the longest night of the year: the winter solstice. December 21st can bring a long evening, but together we will run the night. Together, we will run Mumbai. One of the problems with being a young long distance runner in Mumbai is that I don’t find many people of my age who run long distance just for fun. But Nike Outruns are events where I feel I am amongst people my age. People who haven’t grown up.
I have to say that my grandmother was by far the happiest person when I told her about my relationship with Nike. She had a small tear in her eye, and told me how she had bought her first Nike shoe in 1989 for four hundred rupees. She lost the shoe in a month’s time, and for a month she could not get over the fact that she lost a four hundred rupee shoe! (Four hundred rupees in 1989, mind you). When I told her how much shoes cost these days, we both had a good laugh.
For the readers, I am a runner. Just a runner. A runner who was lucky enough to be known by his favourite brand. A runner who loves Nike product. But first, a runner.