Contributing editor Rod Cedaro, chats to George Pierce about a revolutionary shoe designed for those with limited mobility.
Back in the 1980s to early 1990s triathlon, and to an even greater extent duathlon, was a fledgling sport. Australians travelling overseas to compete was a relative new occurrence and multisport magazines generally came in from overseas – a month or two late – and we read about these powerhouse athletes from the States who dominated the ‘Bud Light Series’ in America with names like the ‘Big Four’ (Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Scott Tinley and Scott Molina) immediately coming to mind.
Duathlon, even in the States, was even more low-key, but for me, I was intrigued with the run-bike-run format being a less than gifted swimmer. Duathlons, or as they were termed back then, biathlons, gave me the opportunity to compete at the pointy end of the field from the onset of the race rather than playing catch-up post-swim. With this I read with zeal stories of the Coors Light – Duathlon Series in the States. A handful of names dominated, often handing the specialist triathletes their butts on a plate when they ventured out to complete head-to-head with the duathletes.
Two of those specialist duathletes dominated the US scene – Kenny Souza and George Pierce – and their head-to-head battles are legendary in the sport, culminating with Souza claiming a world title at the first official ITU World Duathlon Championships in 1990, where Pierce took the silver.
Now, decades later, Souza works with sports nutrition company Clif Bar in their marketing department, while Pierce has really taken the bull by the horns in an audacious venture to take on the big boys (i.e. Nike, Asics, Adidas, etc.) in the sports shoe market.
Inspired to make a comeback to racing after a near-death bike-truck accident in 2010 where he fractured vertebrae in his back and neck, Pierce developed a new shoe upper design, launching a multisport-specific running shoe that addressed the problem of getting in and out of shoes with wet feet for those with limited mobility or anyone that has an issue with conventional shoe laces.
“The inspiration for the shoes came from the need to improve transition speed when changing shoes twice in duathlons. There had to be a better way than stretch laces. I cobbled some shoes together in my garage and raced in them two weeks later, immediately cutting five per cent off my T1 and T2 times,” he said.
“I realised I was onto something and filed patents straight after that race back in 2012. I then travelled to a Korean shoe factory and literally taught them how to build the shoes. Since then I’ve been back and forward to the factory five times in the last three years refining the product.”
All of Pierce’s hard work culminated last year with the range successfully hitting the market with the first of three distinct upper closures, the T1, T2 and T3, that are designed to be feet friendly, allowing for natural foot biomechanics with built-in adjustments that accommodate various instep heights with an upper wrap technology.
“The initial problem we wanted to solve was fast shoe entry/exit, but we then stumbled upon a better-fitting shoe that helps those rehabbing from trauma, stroke, etc. resulting in limited mobility/dexterity, and kids love our shoes – no laces to tie,” Pierce explained.
Since launching, the shoes have done the rounds, being trialled by various pro-athletes and teams. The shoes had their international launch last October in Adelaide at the ITU World Duathlon Championship – where Pierce competed, finishing 24th in his age-group after suffering yet another cycling accident, this time resulting in a broken collarbone and numerous ribs eight weeks prior to the event.
“As a company, we hold a strong belief that we can make a difference to people’s sporting performances and their enjoyment of multisports. Our T1 is patent pending and is the first lace-less, sock-less, tongue-less performance running shoe. We’re a company founded, owned and financed by athletes. We also hired Jim Tompkins, the former New Balance president, to guide the development of our company going forward,” Pierce said.
With a strong desire to give back to the multisport fraternity, Pierce has made readers of TMSM the following limited time offer, which ends 31 May, 2016.
Visit the official website and use the promo code tmsm2016 and secure a pair of these state-of-the- art specialist multisport shoes for $US99 plus shipping