May 29, 2019
This week's episode features Golden Harper, the founder of Altra, a footwear and apparel company, based in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.
Between the ages of 10 and 14, Golden ran in five marathons. When he was 12, he ran the St. George (Utah) Marathon in 2:45:34 – a world’s best for that age.
He started working in his family’s specialty running store at age nine. The experience allowed him to learn about a range of running injuries and how to prevent or minimize them. Later, Golden graduated from Brigham University with a degree in Exercise Science. His studies focused on biomechanics, kinematics, running injuries, and coaching. He learned 2 game changing things from his studies. The first is that the tapered toe box and elevated heel of nearly all modern shoes causes virtually all of our chronic foot problems. Secondarily, running injury rates are higher now than they were before modern running shoes, likely due to the fact that the elevated, heavy heel in all running shoes causes people to run in a way humans have never naturally ran.
Altra footwear came about after Golden developed what he calls the first-ever foot-shaped running shoes with balanced cushioning. In a shoe with balanced cushioning, the cushioning is weight balanced front to back and does not drop from the heel down to the forefoot, as it does in nearly all traditional shoes.
Golden began to modify existing shoes that were sold at his store and collected data showing that customers improved their technique and were less had far less injuries when they wore the modified shoes, compared to traditional shoes. The modifications helped greatly, he determined.
He showed his collected data to the big running-shoe companies, but it was to no avail. The path forward was clear. Golden and his cohorts partnered with shoemaking experts and the next thing they knew, they were a million dollars in debt. Through extreme pers
Life’s tough – you can be tougher, like Golden Harper, a lifetime running enthusiast who wasn’t satisfied with “what is” when it came to running shoes. He wanted “what could be.”