It’s Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away

My tear-jerking, Pulitzer-worthy tribute to the Brooks Burn.

A Farewell to Burns
This past weekend I bid farewell to some old friends. We’d been inseparable for so long I never thought this day would come, but at the Vancouver Marathon expo on Saturday, I did the once unthinkable and gave away my beloved Brooks Burns — all four pairs — to the Downtown Eastside Foot Clinic to be cleaned up and reused by the less fortunate.

I first started wearing the Burn in the fall of 2006 after they were recommended to me by Cormac Hikisch, the Godfather of the Broadway Run Club, and they remained my go-to marathon shoe until this weekend, when I took the plunge and donned the Green Silence.

Runner's World, June 2006
I’m a former rugby player and at 185 lbs, I figured I was too heavy for racing flats so I’d always worn a lightweight trainer when I raced, ‘Racing Flats for Fat Guys,’ I called them. I ran most of my early marathons in a few different models of New Balance and even had a fling in Boston with a pair of Asics DS Trainers, but when my Burns carried me to that 2:52:53 in Kelowna at the 2006 Okanagan Marathon, I knew I’d found my sole mate.

We ran the streets of Boston and New York together in 2007 and rattled off five consecutive sub-2:50 marathons from 2008 to 2009, including a 2:44:55 at the 2008 Vancouver Marathon which still stands as my PB. Later that year we celebrated my 40th birthday together when I donned a birthday hat and finished 10th overall at the Seattle Marathon, a stone’s throw from the Brooks head office in Bothell. We had some good times together — in at least two senses of the word — and in all, each pair covered well over a thousand kilometres.

I felt awful that I had to tell them we were going for a run out in the country in order to get them to willingly squeeze into the backpack for the ride to the race expo where I dropped them off. But in they went without a hassle or a second thought. Such is their unconditional love for me that they didn’t even question why I would need four pairs for one run.

Dave and his Burns run 2:50 at NYC '07 (photo by Brightroom)
I know deep down that it was the right thing to do, that they’ll be happier back out on the street rather than gathering dust in the back of my closet. They know the streets of their new home so well since I used to run to work through the neighbourhood the Foot Clinic seeks to help, back when we had our office on Railway Street. The Foot Clinic itself is located on East Cordova Street just before the ten-mile mark of the Vancouver Marathon so the Burns won’t have to travel far to reflect upon their past glory and even relive some of those magical steps. It’s a good fit for them, like they once were for me.

I still have one pair that I bought for $50 at a sidewalk sale at the Denman Running Room, which is ironic since the Running Room never carried the Burn. I keep them in a safe place and maybe just maybe, when the time is right, I’ll bring them out and remind myself of the good times we once had, the Brooks Burn and me.