Louis Massyn is a South African running legend. This year he hopes to complete his 40th Comrades Marathon and, remarkably, he has kept every pair of running shoes he has used in each of those races and in all of his training. To date, Louis has covered more than 180 000km over 150 marathons of different kinds.
He completed his first Comrades in 1973 in a pair of white adidas trainers with one red and two blue stripes and, by today’s standards, a very flat sole, which cost him R4,99 at a shop in Welkom.
Massyn has remained true to the three-stripes brand ever since and now has 59 pairs in his historic collection. Some are tattered and torn, some are covered in mud, some look almost pristine – together they trace the development of the most important item in a runner’s life and tell the story of many, many roads run.
Massyn, who was first motivated to compete in the Comrades by an inspirational church service in the small village of Odendaalsrus says, "I have been an adidas fan since my school days, I’ve never run in anything else." He hopes to put all the shoes on display one day as a tribute to his running achievements.
Louis is known for his caring nature and love for the sport and has the Louis Massyn Kalahari Marathon named in his honour.
Over the years, Louis has travelled across the globe, competing in Congo, Dubai, Texas and Greece but the Comrades remains his favourite race and this year he looks forward to receiving his coveted quadruple green number – one for every ten races he has completed.
adidas has made plans to honour Louis for his remarkable achievement and commitment.
"Louis Massyn embodies the adidas brand attitude of Impossible Is Nothing," says Zobuzwe Ngobese, the Public Relations Manager at adidas South Africa.
Louis is expected to visit the adidas stand at the Comrades expo where some of his old running shoes will be on display.
After 39 Comrades, Massyn's advice to any novice runners on Sunday is simple – "enjoy the race and keep positive."