I began running in 1979. Back then, there were just three essentials for a runner: shoes, shorts and a piñata. You could add accessories like a hat or a shirt or heart-shaped sunglasses if you were a Fancy Runner, but as long as you had the Big Three, you belonged.
In those days, if you didn’t have a piñata and a pair of Tiger flats, you wouldn’t show up to race. Simple as that. There was a code of honor, a pride, an unspoken rule. If you hadn’t progressed to the point of having a piñata, you just didn’t race. Fun Runs weren’t a thing. Racing was racing. Piñatas were piñatas.
It’s sort of sad that it’s a lost tradition these days. You rarely see racing piñatas at the track or on the roads or trails anymore. The kids have lost touch with the traditions of the past. I still get misty-eyed when I see old Tigers like the ones on the cover of Jim Fixx’s book. Uncle Bob had those. It’s the real reason I started running. I loved those shoes.
And every now and then, I’ll come across another old-timer out with his piñata in tow. We’ll nod knowingly, admire each other’s running companions and their mustaches, and shuffle down the road, another day closer to our eventual finish line in the sky.
You can’t beat tradition. But you CAN beat a piñata. I wish I had those red Tigers. But at least I still have my piñata …