A Look Back: A Breakdown of the Best Running Sneakers From Fall ’97

A Look Back: A Breakdown of the Best Running Sneakers From Fall ’97

24 years ago, it seemed like every major sneaker brand was churning out a classic sneaker model. Most remember 1997 as an epic year for shoes like the Air Max 97 and the Adidas Equipment Salvation, but every brand was bringing a sleek new design or a new technology to the table. If you were a runner, how could you decide between all these incredible silhouettes? It was definitely a daunting challenge, which Eastbay was up for.

To make it easier, Eastbay broke down each running sneaker into one of four different categories:

Support: Shoes with special features that help runners who either overpronate (roll inward), have a low arch, are hard on shoes, need a straighter last, wear orthotics, need more midfoot and heel control, or need firmer midsoles.

Cushioned Support: Shoes with features that combine cushion and support for runners who slightly overpronate (rolling inward), have low to normal arch, are a heel striker or need some motion control yet want a cushioned ride.

Cushioned: Shoes with features that emphasize cushioning with some support, for runners who under pronate, supinate (roll outward), need curve last, high arch, are a heel, mid or forefoot striker, have rigid feet, need flexibility, or run efficiently.

Lightweight: Shoes designed with little support and good cushioning for runners who are efficient, train at faster speeds, have normal to rigid arch, are not susceptible to injury, or need flexibility.

On top of that, Eastbay also sold Trail Runners and Road Flats. Here’s a breakdown of the best sneakers from each category back in 1997:

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Supportive Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Support

adidas Lexicon Extra

The Adidas Lexicon was a beautifully-designed sneaker that doesn’t get enough love. Retailing at $99.99, it was on the higher end of the spectrum for Adidas runners. The Lexicon Extra featured Point of Deflection System technology in the heel, an EVA midsole, a full-length medial post, and Support Torsion system.

Saucony G.R.I.D. Procyon

Saucony’s most supportive runner was the G.R.I.D. Procyon, which featured their patented heel G.R.I.D. system for cushioning, along with a rearfoot medial support device. Retailing at just $74.99, it was a bargain for those needing that extra support without the added cost.

Nike Air Equilibrium

The Equilibrium was Nike’s state-of-the-art support sneaker for those with flat feet. You can’t see the medial side of this shoe in the picture, but the amount of support provided was off the charts. Featuring a Phylon midsole, the Equilibrium also had Zoom-Air units in the heel and forefoot with individually tuned pods. The BRS 1000 carbon rubber outsole featured a sculpted central guidance channel with a lateral Duralon forefoot.

New Balance 585

New Balance has always been loved by flat-footed runners, and the 585 was a reliable model for the brand. Made in the USA, the 585 featured a synthetic upper with 3M Scotchlite Reflective trim, a 4-density polyurethane midsole with a Rollbar Stability System. Runners got all this tech for under $100.

ASICS GEL-MC 126

ASICS was another trustworthy brand for flat-footed runners, and the best model back in ‘97 for them was the GEL-MC 126. Featuring a motion control system for heavy overpronators, the GEL-MC 126 was semi-curved and built on a EE last for wider feet. It had a compression-molded EVA midsole with extended Duomax, and ASICS GEL cushioning in the heel.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Cushioned Support Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Cushioned Support

adidas Response

The adidas Response line was incredibly popular throughout the ‘90s. The sleek yet simple designs and affordable price points made them a great option for many runners. The Response featured exceptional cushioning with added stability, a dual density compression-molded EVA midsole, visible adiprene cushioning in the heel, and a new Torsion system for stability.

Saucony 3D G.R.I.D. Hurricane

This was my first ever running sneaker in high school, and they were a lot of fun to run in. The 3D G.R.I.D. had a sleek design and a ton of tech inside to match. The visible 3D G.R.I.D. system wrapped the midsole with Hytrel filaments that cushioned and absorbed shock, while adding stability and motion control. At $99.99, it was Saucony’s top-of-the-line running sneaker at the time.

ASICS GEL-Kayano

This was ASICS’ best shoe for high-mileage runners. With a DuoMax compression-molded EVA midsole, a mesh reinforced upper with synthetic leather, the Kayano featured a blown rubber forefoot with DuoSole insert and AHAR heel plug, along with forefoot P-Gel and heel T-Gel. Basically the Kayano had really great cushioning and a lot of Gel inside. At $124.99, it was one of the most expensive runners at the time, but well worth the price.

New Balance 999

Basically anyone who’s ever tried on the 999 falls in love with them. This was and still is one of New Balance’s most iconic silhouettes. Featuring a pigskin leather upper with 3M Scotchlite reflective trim, the 999 had ABZORB cushioning in the heel, along with ENCAP cushioning in the heel and C-CAP cushioning in the forefoot. Made in the USA, the 999 retailed for $125.

Nike Air Structure Triax

As for Nike, their top cushioned support model was the Air Structure Triax. For the runner who wanted a well-cushioned ride with added stability, the Structure Triax featured a Phylon midsole with two key stability features: a Footbridge stability device and a patented Heel Hinge feature. The Structure also had Nike Air in the heel and forefoot.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Cushioned Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Cushioned

Nike Air Max 97

It doesn’t get much bigger than the Air Max 97. That fall, we were blessed with one of the biggest breakthroughs in sneaker cushioning of all time. The new anatomically designed dual-pressure Air-Sole unit with a lateral crash pad system cushioned and guided the foot like no sneaker ever had before. Designed by Christian Tresser, the unique upper was inspired both by water dropping into a pond, as well as the metallic finish of mountain bike components. Next year will be the 25th anniversary of this hallowed silhouette.

 Reebok DMX 2000 

Reebok was turning heads and pleasing feet of all shapes and sizes with their revolutionary DMX cushioning technology. With the Reebok DMX 2000, runners actually felt the air flow from their heel to their forefoot as they ran. This was an incredible breakthrough in technology, and transitioned well to Allen Iverson’s The Answer 1 basketball sneaker as well.

adidas Equipment Salvation

To compete with Air Max and DMX cushioning, adidas was launching their “Feet You Wear” technology, which allowed the runner’s feet to function more naturally. The semi-curved last, compression-molded EVA midsole and adiPRENE inserts in the Salvation provided plenty of cushioning and responsiveness for runners.

Puma Cell Speed

Puma featured their own state-of-the-art cushioning system with the Puma Cell Speed, which featured a PUMA CELL midsole with polyurethane frame. Touted as the ultimate training shoe for high-mileage runners that require a stable, well-cushioned ride, the Cell Speed was a somewhat niche running sneaker. CELL technology was similar to Reebok’s Hexalite technology, in that the cushioning was designed like a honeycomb pad filled with air.

Fila Silva Trainer

Another very niche runner was the Fila Silva Trainer, which provided outstanding cushioning for high-mileage training. The Silva Trainer featured a Filabuck and Ripstop nylon upper, and a compression-molded EVA midsole with 2A technology in the heel and forefoot. Fila’s 2A technology was very similar to Nike Air in the fact that it featured separate “pods” of air to provide cushioning to the foot.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Lightweight Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Lightweight

Nike Air Zoom Spiridon

The ultimate shoe for a fast, responsive ride. Featured in the “It’s OK to be fast” ad campaign with sprinter Michael Johnson, the Spiridon was another revolutionary sneaker because of its full-length running specific Zoom-Air cushioning. The Spiridon was one of the first running sneakers to feature Zoom Air, and it would set the stage for the many more iconic running sneakers for decades to come.

Nike Air Max Light III

A responsive, lightweight, low-profile, fast-paced trainer! The Air Max Light III has yet to retro, which is a shame because it was ahead of its time as well. Not only was there a dual-pressure visible Air-Sole unit in the heel, there was also Zoom Air in the forefoot. This was one of the very first sneakers to feature both Air Max cushioning AND Zoom Air in the same sneaker, and definitely doesn’t get enough love from sneakerheads.

Reebok Electrolyte

A sneaker that most have forgotten about by now, the Electrolyte was Reebok’s take on the fast-paced, lightweight running sneaker. The Electrolyte featured 3D UltraLite cushioning, which combined the outsole and midsole into one injection-molded unit. This resulted in lighter weight and greater flexibility, along with an enhanced road feel. Reebok boasted that the 3D UltraLite reduced shoe weight by up to 10%. The Electrolyte was a feathery 9.8 ounces.

Saucony 3D-G.R.I.D. B-Gone

Saucony really made some bold sneakers back in the ‘90s – the B-Gone was a flashy lightweight trainer for fast-paced workouts or races. Featuring a dual density Maxlite EVA midsole with a visible heel 3D G.R.I.D. system, the B-Gone is another Saucony model that deserves a proper retro release at this point.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Road Flats Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Road Flats

Nike Air Rift

Nike was dropping some ridiculous models, even in the road flat category back in ‘97. One of the most outlandish was the Air Rift, which featured a minimalistic upper and split toe. There was Nike Air in the heel, and they came with a special pair of split toe socks.

Nike Air Zoom Streak

Nike also created a low-profile racing flat for 5K to marathons called the Air Zoom Streak, which featured Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot. There was a Air Streak Light version as well, which only weighed 6.6 ounces and was available from size 3 all the way up to size 15. This was an incredible value for such a lightweight, responsive racing flat.

ASICS GEL-Magic Racer

ASICS also made a technology-packed racer called the GEL-Magic. Described as a performance racing flat for all distances, the GEL-Magic featured a dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole with rearfoot HEXGEL. It also had a Magic Sole forefoot with AHAR heel plug.

Look Back Eastbay Catalog Trail Running Sneakers Fall 1997

Trail Runners

adidas Response Trail

The Response Trail is a line adidas could keep bringing back again and again, and loyal followers would never lose interest in them. The mist/lake/slime colorway is just as fashionable now as it was back in 1997. The Response Trail was a versatile training shoe that was great for on and off-road use. It featured synthetic leather and a water-resistant mesh upper, along with adiPrene cushioning in the heel. At $79.99, it was a great value for a comfortable, fashionable trail shoe.

Nike Air Terra Sertig

The Terra Sertig was Nike’s top-of-the-line trail shoe back in ‘97. The Sertig had all the bells and whistles, including a very low profile Phylon midsole with heel and forefoot Zoom Air units. Its three-quarter height was designed for the demands of alpine running. There was a protective fabric web between the midsole, and a bi-directional waffle outsole that protected against stone bruises.

Nike Air Terra Albis

Basically a low-cut version of the Sertig, the Albis was also a low-profile trail shoe with exceptional cushioning. The Albis featured most of the same tech as the Sertig, except it had an Air Sole in the heel instead of Zoom Air. Regardless, it was a gorgeous, aggressive design that showed how serious Nike was about trail runners.

Nike Air Humara

Back in the late ‘90s, the Humara line enjoyed a very popular run. This particular Humara boasted a ton of tech, including a heel Air Sole unit and a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot. It was the ultimate low-profile cushioned trail shoe, with a lightweight breathable mesh upper and non-absorbent synthetic leather overlays. The traction was excellent as well, with a rubberized, abrasion-resistant tip and heel overlay.

Drew Hammell A Look Back

Drew is the creator of @nikestories on Instagram. Growing up in the ’90s, Drew loved playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and even dabbled in cross country running. He ended up focusing on tennis in high school and helped lead his team to multiple state titles. His favorite athletes growing up include Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Andre Agassi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He was smart enough to save all his old Eastbay catalogs from the ’90s and loves sharing them with the sneaker community. Follow him at @nikestories or read more of his work here.

Track and Field Gear Guide

Track and Field Gear Guide

Track and field stars, it’s time to start gearing up for the upcoming outdoor season. Eastbay has what you need to succeed, so out with the old and in with the new. This gear guide was created to help you figure out which qualities to look for in competition shoes, based on your event, and provide you with our top recommendations.

If you’re not sure how your spikes should fit, check out this blog post, to learn how to shop track and field shoes.

Jump To: Sprint Spikes, Mid-Distance & Distance Spikes, Throwing Shoes, Jumping Shoes

Woman sprinting in tank top with trees in the background.

When choosing a sprint spike, you should focus on two things : light weight and aggressive traction. You’re used to speeding through and relying on instinct when you’re on the track, but when it comes to deciding on sprint spikes, make sure to take your time. Look for a snug fit on the upper and a strategic spike plate to keep your feet stable in the blocks and help you grip the track with every stride.

Best Cross Country Shoes for Practice and Competition

Best Cross Country Shoes for Practice and Competition

As you head back to the course this cross country season, not just any shoes will do. You need the best gear possible to help you leave your legacy in the record books. That’s why we’ve created this list of the best cross country shoes of the season. So, whether you compete in spikes or flats or just need a new pair of shoes for practice, eastbay.com has the best gear from top brands. So, get ready for your best season yet!

COMPETITION SPIKES AND FLATS:

When it comes to shoes for race day, you want to make sure they’re light as can be with ultimate traction to grip the surface of the cross country course, whether you’re running on grass, gravel, or dirt.

1. Nike Zoom Victory XC 5

Colors: Black, Metallic Silver, Black

Take on tough courses with these cross country shoes. Multilayered, translucent mesh provides a lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant upper that stays snug on your foot throughout the race. The spiked version has a carbon fiber plate in the midfoot to enhance stability and support and features rubber heel pods, extra lugs, and six spike pins on the outsole to give you multisurface durability and aggressive traction. The waffle version of these shoes sports a CushIon midsole for lightweight, responsive cushioning and an all-rubber outsole for gripping traction.

2. Saucony Havok XC2

Colors: Black and Green

These cross country shoes are a great option for varsity runners. Both versions are made with a seamless sock-like upper with FLEXFILM overlays to provide an enhanced fit without adding extra bulk. While both versions feature a full carbon rubber outsole, the spiked version also features a six-pin Pebax® plate to keep you leading the pack on aggressive terrain.

3. New Balance XC Seven V2

Colors: Black and White

These shoes combine the lightweight cushioning of elite racing shoes with a more traditional fit and extra protection, making them a perfect choice for new racers. An engineered knit upper provides lightweight structure while unique midsole cushioning gives a responsive feel underfoot. Finished off with a lugged rubber outsole and six removable spikes, these shoes provide superior traction on every type of course.

4. Nike Zoom Rival XC

Colors: White, Black and Atmosphere Grey

These shoes look as fast as they feel with a multilayered mesh upper featuring striped skin overlays. Both versions are great, affordable options for cross country shoes with lightweight, responsive cushioning in the midsole and an anatomical rounded heel to roll with the ground. The spiked version has strategically placed lugs on the perimeter of the outsole to enhance grip in all conditions, while the spikeless version features a waffle plate with a rubber outsole for traction.

5. Saucony Carrera XC4

Colors: Black and Slime

Even the best can get better, and these racing shoes are proof of that. A fully engineered mesh upper features ISOFIT that adapts to the shape and motion of your foot for a secure fit. The midsole is made from a super light, high-abrasion foam to increase durability without weighing you down. The spiked version features a durable rubber outsole with a six-pin Pebax® spike plate that provides unrelenting grip for your fastest race yet.

PRACTICE FLATS:

Built for training, preparing for race day, and beating your PR, these shoes are guaranteed to get you closer to annihilating your goals.

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36

Colors: Phantom, Riderock, Electric Green and Moon Particle

These running shoes are exactly what you need to get your practice miles in throughout the week. They feature a slimmer design than the last Pegasus model with less weight in the tongue and heel collar. The upper is made from engineered mesh, and the midsole features a full-length Zoom Air unit along with CushIon foam to provide responsive cushioning.

2. Saucony Type A8

Colors: White, Black and Citron

These versatile running shoes have an engineered mesh upper with FLEXFILM overlays to provide a seamless sock-like fit. A super light midsole gives rebound while you run, and a carbon rubber outsole provides durable traction so that you can comfortably put in many practice miles before the big race.

3. New Balance 1500 V5

Colors: White and Neon Emerald

Designed for aggressive road runs, these shoes promise speed and support. The upper is made of breathable mesh to keep your feet feeling fresh, and the midsole sports responsive cushioning to keep your steps light and springy.

Top Track Shoes Of 2018

Top Track Shoes Of 2018

To build a winning track season, you need the right tools. And that starts with choosing the right shoes. Whether you need explosive sprint spikes or powerful throwing shoes, we’ve got you covered with a breakdown of our top choices for every event.

 

Speed: Sprint

When your race only lasts a few seconds, you need to make every step count — You need to explode out of the blocks and stay light on your feet. That means you need sprint spikes with two important features: aggressive traction and a snug, barely there fit and feel. Our top picks deliver both.

 

Nike Zoom 400

Track and Field Story 4

When it comes to power, Nike’s unique spike plate really delivers. This cutting-edge design combines strategic areas of flex and rigidity so you get maximum acceleration out of every step. Seven spike receptacles in the forefoot dig into the track and help launch you forward. Flyweave construction in the upper snugly wraps and supports your foot, while the shoe’s integrated tongue eliminates seams for a one-to-one fit that lets you focus on the finish.

 

Nike Zoom Superfly Elite

Track and Field Story 1

Lightweight and locked down. That’s what you get in the Nike Zoom Superfly Elite. This shoe’s breathable Flymesh upper delivers zoned areas of ventilation, while Dynamic Fit technology wraps the foot and locks you firmly in place over the footbed. That footbed is built on a stiff plate with 8 receptacles that have recently been updated from permanent to removable spikes. The biggest difference between the Zoom 400 and Superfly Elite can be found in Nike’s generative plate design. Each is made with areas of stiffness and flex that are unique to the distances they were built for. So, choose wisely. Your race may depend on it.

 

Grit: Mid Distance

Mid-distance spikes need to deliver a performance triple threat: speed, cushion, and support around the curve. When it’s time to make your move and break away from the pack, you need a spike that’s going to work as hard as you do.

 

adidas AdiZero MD

Track and Field Story 2

When you’re running anywhere from 800-1,500m, your feet are going to take a beating. To stay fresh and fast, you need Boost cushioning. It not only protects your feet from the pounding they’ll take, but it also stores the energy you create at impact and returns it to your stride. And more energy = less fatigue and faster times. Five spike receptacles in the forefoot make the most of this energy return by gripping the track and adding power to every toe-off. Most importantly, these spikes feature an asymmetrical plate design that helps provide balance and support as you race through the turn.

 

Stamina: Distance

In it for the long haul? Then you need an ultra-breathable shoe and a stride that packs a punch. That punch comes from a strong, stable platform and traction you can depend on mile after mile.

 

Nike Zoom Victory 3

Track and Field Story 3

The Nike Zoom Victory 3 is built to win, with a cool, lightweight mesh upper that uses an anatomical heel design to securely wrap your foot and deliver comfort through your 5K. Increased space in the toebox allows for natural toe splay, leading to stronger takeoffs and faster times. Finally, the Victory features Nike’s generative plate design paired with six spike receptacles for dependable traction and response.

 

Power: Field

Whether you’re a jumper or a thrower, you need shoes that deliver power. And that power is built from the ground up. To go higher and farther this season, you need shoes that deliver secure lockdown and strategic traction.

 

adidas AdiZero Discus/Hammer

Track and Field Story 6

Locked and loaded. That’s how you’ll feel when you lace up in the adidas AdiZero Discus/Hammer. The shoe’s synthetic cage upper construction wraps around your foot, and a large hook-and-loop strap crosses over the top, locking you securely in place and creating a strong, stable platform for your throw. On the outsole, a smooth spin patch under the ball of the foot helps you flawlessly execute every time you compete.

 

adidas adiZero TJ/PV

Track and Field Story 5

Jumping shoes need to combine the stability of throwing shoes and the lightweight speed of racing spikes. The adidas AdiZero TJ/PV does just that, thanks to a hook-and-loop strap that locks your foot in place over the footbed, eliminating wiggle room so you can focus on your approach. Lightweight EVA foam in the midsole delivers just enough cushioning and impact protection — perfect for the triple jump — and a seven-spike outsole plate with Sharkskin traction pattern grips the track and encourages unrivaled acceleration.

Three Tips For Explosive Block Starts

Three Tips For Explosive Block Starts

Block Starts Story 2

Block starts can be a sprinter’s best friend or worst enemy. The first steps of your race are the most important, and having a great start can be the edge you need to win. If you’re looking to improve your race times this year, here are three tips for faster, more powerful block starts:

1. Explosive Exercises

Plyometrics and weightlifting can give you the leg strength you need for an explosive 30 meters out of the blocks. The power you generate at the start will help propel you through your race and keep you one step ahead of the competition. Great exercises for increasing power include single- and double-leg bounds, sled pulls, and speed squats.

Block Starts Story

2. Consistent Routine

A consistent, easy to repeat routine is especially important in the moments before you step into the blocks. This includes using the same block setting and pre-race movements. Make sure your dominant leg is in the front block. Repeating the same motions in practice and before each race will improve muscle memory.

3. Mentality

Executing a successful block start is 90% mental and 10% physical. That’s why it’s important to visualize the perfect start and finish to your race. Imagine yourself reacting fast on the gun start and leading the pack from your very first step. Practice this mental routine so that on race day, when the gun goes off, you won’t need to think. You can simply react, run, and win!

 


 

Training for power, honing your muscle memory, and focusing on your race plan are all greats ways to prepare yourself for a successful track season. And you can reach an even higher level if you choose the right gear. So, with that in mind, we broke down the three products you need to win:

For Practice

To guarantee a win on race day, you have to put in the work behind the scenes. That means embracing the grind and choosing the right pair of running shoes for your gait and your training routine. Need a lot of support? No problem. Looking to up your mileage? We’ve got you covered there, too. You can find our favorites at eastbay.com.

Block Starts Story 4

Our top recommendation is a shoe that can do it all – the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34. Delivering a secure, locked-down fit, with fast, comfortable cushioning, and stable, firm support, the Pegasus is a great all-around option for runners at every age, speed, and mileage.

For Race Day

To run fast times, you need fast shoes, and everything about our selection of track spikes is built with speed in mind. From their breathable, lightweight uppers to stiff spike plates, these shoes are ready to win over any distance. You can check out our race-ready lineup here.

Block Starts Story 3

One of our top contenders is the innovative Nike Zoom Superfly Elite. This spike’s seamless upper features zoned areas of stretch and support that eliminate discomfort and distraction so you can focus on the finish. Permanent spike placement cuts down on weight, and a generative plate design perfectly combines stiffness and flexibility so you get the most energy out of every step.

For Style

Looking fast is almost as important as running fast. Whether you prefer to layer up tanks, tees, and tights, or stick to shorts and singlets, we have a range of options that look as good as they perform. With seamless construction, reflective elements, and sweat-wicking material, these are comfortable, breathable pieces that you can mix and match to suit any workout.

Block Starts Story 5

Want a piece that can easily transition from your workout to everyday wear? The Nike Dri-FIT Element Half-Zip is the perfect choice. This lightweight layer is tough enough to get you through practice and stylish enough for class, thanks to slim lines and an athletic fit.