How running can help ease a major Brooklyn problem
The O2 Explorer … remember that name.
“It’s the future of running,” says Marc Chapman, a loyal runner who pounds the streets of New York daily. But running may be even more; it could cure a major problem which affects our city.
“I’ve been running for over 50 years,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle the other day. “In fact, I ran cross-country for James Madison High School for a year.”
And he hated it.
Basketball was Chapman’s first love, perhaps his only love as a youth.
“I wanted to get stronger for basketball, so I started running up hills at Timber Lake Camp during the summer when I was around 16,” said the soon-to-be 64-year-old Chapman. “It was so hard. I ran with a fellow camper and thought he was nuts. But, he added, “that started my love for running.”
Basketball still haunted Chapman as he played briefly at CCNY. When he transferred to LIU his disdain for the coach pushed him away from the sport.
After a stint with Scott Paper – he served as a salesperson covering the East Coast – running became an obsession.
“I opened a small store in Richfield, Conn.,” he said. “I always loved finding new brands of shoes and supporting small companies trying to do something different. These last six and seven years have been so difficult to finds those off-beat brands of shoes.”
So, the creative mind of Marc Chapman went to work.
Four years ago, he started playing around with an idea for a shoe that would have better cushioning, performance and durability.
“Why can’t a running shoe last the life of a car tire,” he reasoned. “A car tire,” he said, “lasts around 50,000 miles; a running shoe goes for about 3-4,000 miles.”
He designed a Dual Cushing System and worked with Vibram to make an outsole that would last longer.
“I wanted to make a better running shoe that was longer lasting, performed better, used sustainable materials and was a better value for my customers,” he said.
Actually, he wanted to make a running shoe like craft beer and give people value.
In fact, Chapman claims whenever he asked the “big” shoe companies to donate a shoe – or gift certificate – for a charity race, it was such a hassle.
“These companies doing hundreds of millions of sales couldn’t care less about helping out,” he said. “Their websites make it look like they care; but they don’t. So, I had this idea that for every shoe we sell, I would source shoes that contract manufacturers had sitting around because of cancellation or overruns.”
Also, he said, when a customer orders a shoe after they wear one out, we will send a prepaid envelope, collect the old shoes, clean and rehab them and donate.
Not a bad gesture. In fact, a wonderful one.
His idea of donating the shoe came from the Sleeping Bag Project NYC, which had its origin in Brooklyn.
“Dr. Jodi from Methodist Hospital was walking past Prospect Park and saw homeless people sleeping on the ground,” Chapman said. “So, he started buying sleeping bags for them. He raised money by doing wine and cheese nights for friends, and does group walks five-six times a year.”
He’ll walk from Methodist to Manhattan, Chapman says, around the lower and east side and back.
“For every $25 he raises, he buys a sleeping bag and distributes them,” he said. “The guy is amazing. Every penny goes to purchasing a sleeping bag.”
Chapman says the homeless problem is crazy and admits a sleeping bag, or a pair of running shoes, will not solve the problem.
“I’d like to make someone’s life a little better, that’s our goal,” he said.
And he’d like to do it with his O2 Explorer.
It’s billed as the only running shoe that features Proprietary Oxygen Impact Dual Cushioning System. Less impact and better performance.
If all goes well for Marc Chapman and his O2 Explorer, well, he’ll have more impact than he ever expected.
Let’s hope so!
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR
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