Last week while I was traveling in Ontario another pair of running shoes reached retirement age.  These were not just any pair of running shoes mind you, these were my Run for Dom shoes. 

The very pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 11’s that carried this marathon runner over two finish lines just 310 hours apart honoring our good friend Dominic D’Eramo’s fight against cancer.  You can read about just how much those running shoes meant to me, and just how difficult it was for me to “retire” them by clicking here.

I was sharing my story with some of my running friends over on Daily mile last week and we were discussing the various ways that those shoes could be laid to rest “properly” and with great “honor”.

We talked about placing them in a shadow box with our Race Bibs, Medals and Photographs.

I have thought about having them bronzed like you would do with a pair of baby shoes.

As I write this they sit on a shelf in my closet, between my Race Flats and Cycling Shoes awaiting their fate.  The experience of running for Dom for the last 15 months has taught me an important lesson.

Whenever I was unsure about what was next or which direction was the right one to pursue – exercise patience.  Time and time again Dom would show me the way.  He helped me make decision after decision and I have rolled sevens every time.  I know that when the time is right, I will know exactly what to do with those shoes.

The discussion turned to what runners typically do with their retired training and race shoes.  I know in my case I retire my shoes when they have traveled 300 miles.  Any longer than that in my case, my legs start to feel the breakdown in cushioning and I wind up with nagging pain which can very easily lead to injury.

The only thing that can add to a runner injury more quickly than not heeding the warning of the “too much, too fast” rule is running on bad/poor/old shoes.

3oo Miles may very well seem like a lot.  And it is of course.  But for a middle distance to long distance runner, 300 miles can go by in the blink of an eye.  Just in the 20 weeks leading up to the Austin marathon I will run just under 850 miles.  Just short of three pairs of running shoes in less than five months.

It's Gotta Be The Shoes

I usually keep a “retired” pair or two of shoes around to wear to the gym, walk the dog or clean the Harley, but many of my old pairs of running shoes have been donated to Good Will or the Salvation Army.

But just last week I learned of a great organization that is making a huge difference in the lives of literally millions around the world.

Soles 4 Souls.

The facts according to the 501(c)(3) organization are that more than 1.5 billion pair of shoes lay idle right now in American Closets.  At the same time, over 300 million children around the world are without shoes.

Sounds like we have an opportunity here people.

Soles 4 Souls facilitates the donation of shoes, which are used to aid the hurting worldwide.  Shoe companies, retailers and individuals can donate shoes – both new and old to the needy literally around the globe.

They have distributed shoes to those less fortunate in 125 countries on 5 continents including the US, Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Uganda, Iraq, Peru, Thailand and Nepal.

In fact Soles 4 Souls gives away a pair of shoes every 7 seconds.

Soles 4 Souls Shoe Carnival

By visiting the Soles 4 Souls website (click here) – you can learn about how you can get your unused shoes in their hands for distribution.

They have established drop off locations all around the United States or you can drop your shoes in the mail directly to the organization.  To find the nearest drop off location to you, (click here).

In our case all I had to do was stop by the Flip Flop Shop at Lakeline Mall to drop off three pairs of retired running shoes, less than an 8 mile drive from our home.

So the next time you trip over that pair of shoes in the closet that you haven’t worn in months or years, or your pair of trainers have reached their mileage limit, think about what a huge difference those shoes can make in the lives of those less fortunate.

Being a charitable organization, your donation is even tax deductible.

Between now and February 20th I will have four more pairs of running shoes reach retirement age.  With your help, maybe we can shave a second off of that distribution time and help Soles 4 Souls get down to one pair every 6 seconds.

Happy trails!

  1. Joe,

    Thanks so much for the post…Maggie just told me about it. I am so thankful for all of the knowledge I learned at RC and have been able to apply it with Soles4Souls…now my goal is to get you to come on an international shoe distribution with me so you can actually give these shoes to those in need.


  2. I’ll admit, I wanted to to hang on to your RFD shoes and to create a display of them to show Sierra and Nico in the years to come. But I can really think of no better way to honor Dom than to allow those shoes to go on to help another in need. Sierra and Nico don’t need your shoes to hear about what a great man their dad was…but hearing about how he motivated others to donate to those who do need those shoes is something every child needs to hear about their parent. You are an inspiration!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi AJ – decisions, decisions, decisions – Those are some special shoes, no doubt about it. I’m going to hang on for now and see what the next few weeks show and tell me to do with them. I will say, it felt great to drop off that bag of shoes to Soles4Souls last weekend – what a great, orgnization.

      Best to you! J

  3. Soles4Souls says:


    Thank you so much for promoting our organizataion as a way that runners can recycle their old shoes & change lives. We really appreciate your support & like Katie said, hopefully you can join us on a trip one day.

    Jeremy, S4S staff

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jeremy – thank you so much for the visit and the message! You have a new promoter here in Austin, TX! I will be happy to keep passing the word to my runner friends and non-runner friends alike – and of course every 300 miles or so, I’ll be making a donation. Would love to participate on a trip down the road – you’ve given me a new bucket-list item. Thanks again for all that you do – best to you from Austin, Joe

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