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Wednesday 13 March 2013

Asics Store Visit 2: Mad Joggers & Confusing the Competition ...

Asics Store Visit #2

I was in Central London yesterday and decided it was time for another visit to the Asics Store on Oxford Street. I’d managed to total my original beautiful, sparkly white trainers and they are no longer neither white nor sparkly, instead they are now shades of brown and rather sad looking. I’d decided to raid my savings and stock up on a couple of new pairs.

I know they gave me free kit at Christmas – securing my undying love – but I really do like this store. One thing that really makes a difference is that the staff are runners. I had a chat to one of their chaps who’d run the Paris marathon last and he gave me some tips:

  • Watch out for orange peel and banana skins - yes really! Apparently the whole comedy slip-up thing isn’t just reserved for cartoons and the cobbles really become quite slippery with both of these.
  • Keep your head up – the route goes past some of the most famous landmarks in Paris so if you’re keeping an eye out you’ll spot these. Some of them include Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and of course you start only a little way along from the Arc de Triomphe.
  • And ... possibly most importantly – the last 2 miles are downhill. Just what I wanted to hear.

I’d known that I was coming up to this store a few weeks before the marathon so I’d saved the pennies and today stocked up on some lovely new kit. However, I’d left the Asics store before realising I’d forgotten a couple of small bits I’d wanted. I was already the wrong end of Oxford Street and was passing a competitor shop ...

I didn’t burst into flames as I passed the threshold with my bag full of Asics kit and neither (disappointingly) did an employee leap out from a concealed doorway with a staff bellowing “You shall not pass ...” and attempt to confiscate my Asics shopping bag and replace it with their branded kit. 

I needed a gel belt. I had a running belt but this wasn’t quite big enough with my mobile phone and the 6 gels I’d be carrying for the marathon so I needed something in addition to this. Although preferably not in the competitor store’s colours as I didn’t feel Asics would be best pleased ...

A member of their staff was on the shop floor so I stopped them:
“Hi, can you help me? I need a gel belt.”
I was greeted by a blank expression and the question: “For ...?”
I hadn’t been expecting this. “For gels ...” I helpfully supplied.

Apparently they didn’t stock these. But I also needed a new buff after the last one had been donated to a cyclist. After the last conversation, it was probably best to make sure there was no room for misinterpretation:

“I also need a buff...” (pause) blank look.
“... A neck warmer?” (longer pause) blanker look.
“For necks?” Aha. A look of comprehension.
“Sorry. We’re out of stock.”


There were loads of runners around London – even in the centre of the city. They were neck and neck with the mopeds and cyclists for death-defying manoeuvring. Skilfully integrating in between the buses and cabs and hurling themselves off the kerbs with second-precise timing to pass between lines of traffic. A ballet of trainers and metal.

All except one lady runner who was obviously determined to have a run past the sights of the city but who seemed to have a severe pigeon phobia. She managed to negotiate the complicated crossings and avoided being mown down by a particularly determined black cab driver but when she came past Marble Arch and into a flock (swarm? pestilence?) of pigeons she had a mini freak-out mid stride, but managed to disguise this as a stumble. She did however have a bit of an arm-flail as the birds took off around her as though she was swimming through a particularly pigeon-dense pool but made it out guano-free and only slightly dishevelled. 

It made me wonder whether she could use her fear for a more targeted training session. Just imagine ...  If she covered herself in birdseed for the London marathon and with the added incentive of her ornithophobia she would be able to run a cracking time! No chance of slowing down for fear of being eaten by London’s feral pigeons. However, I discounted suggesting this to her by thinking of the mess the startled pigeons would make when the starting gun went off. We’d all end up looking like living statues.

I ended up walking over 8 miles around London and with the 7 mile run when I got home in the evening, I’d ended up doing the equivalent of a long run. Just very, very slowly. And with coffee breaks. And shopping.

No gels required. Just the incentive of hot coffee and shopping for new running kit.


  1. Technically Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon but the actual collective noun is Kit when they are flying together but i think pestilence is far better!

    1. A 'kit'? So if I'd stuffed the Asics bag full of pigeons, I'd still have had a bag full of 'kit'?

      ... Although technically I suppose they wouldn't be flying ...

  2. Got to visit that store now I've gone all Asics lol, donlt you just love helpful staff (in the competitors lol)

    1. Morning Paul! Oh you really should - it's my new favourite store!! See if you can get a gait analysis done - you see the 3D model of your foot and everything. Ha ha yes - the competitor store didn't really help themselves, did they?