These shoes are made for walking.

No, these shoes are made for running. The same shoes for the past 40 years — one race a year.

Cameron Carlson of Colo began his running career when he lived in Madrid. He was in seventh grade the first time he put on his running shoes to run the Madrid Milers Labor Day Run. That was 40 years ago and he has run every year since it began in 1978…in the same shoes.

“While in school, I ran the long distances, the two mile, one mile and ½ mile,” said Carlson. “It was like kind of running, more like jogging and I asked myself why was I doing this?’

Carlson explained that running in those early days was more a test to see if he needed to train to run. He said that it showed him that he could run and didn’t need to train.

So who trains to run one five kilometer race a year?

Not Carlson.

“This year at my annual run at the Madrid Labor Day Celebration, it almost didn’t happen,” he tells. “There was lightning in the area and we were instructed to get off the course if we didn’t feel safe. It was raining on us for the first half-mile of the five kilometer race, and then it just sprinkled. It was wet and breezy, but the conditions were good for running.”

How did he finish this year?

“Let’s just say not in the top three,” he laughed. “I did win in my age category two other years, but I was the only one running in my age group. There were about 200 runners in this year’s race.”

Carlson said that the celebration before and after the race has always been fun.

“It’s a great time to catch up with old classmates,” he said. “But that’s not as easy as it used to be. They just aren’t running anymore.”

Back to the 40-year-old New Balance shoes.

“Yes, these were the ones that I ran in at the Drake Relays and the high school state track meet,” Carlson shared. “I think that I have put about 720 miles on these shoes, just running in the Labor Day races and the three years I ran in them in high school.”

In the beginning, Carlson said he would focus on the feet of the runners in front of him. Now his focus is a different situation — to keep on going.

“Now it’s just me telling myself to pick up my feet,” he said. “That first mile, now, I hear my body yelling at me, and when the race is over, my head tells me that wasn’t so bad. But that last mile gets tougher every year.”

He admits that it’s more of a tradition to be running the same, and only race, each year.

“My shoes were here again this year,” he said with a smile. “I think that when I retire from running this race that the shoes should be retired to the Madrid Museum. But until then, I will show up the day of the race; I don’t preregister. They always save a T-shirt for me and if I have a good race, I might even win a medal.”

How many more once-a-year races does Carlson plan to run?

“That’s hard to say,” he explained. “When I can’t finish a race or when the shoes wear out…I guess that would be a good time to say ‘I am done’. But I think that they might have another year or two in them, the shoes, and probably in me too.”

Forty years, five kilometers each year, same shoes. Can’t say as I have ever met any runner with that kind of dedication. The shoes are a bit tattered, but they still have some sole left on them, or maybe we should say in them. Guess that gives this runner a reason to keep going.

Yes, these shoes were made for running, as long as you only use them once a year.