In many sports, there are rituals, traditions and other factors that ultimately help you get in the zone. For runner Evan DeHart, it is all about the shoes.
For more than a decade, DeHart ran with the same pair of Asics running flats. But even though he found a similar pair of shoes in the same model, he is considering running in his old running flats with more than 25,000 other runners in the 30th Annual Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run in Miami on Thursday night.
DeHart’s shoes help him stay focused and help to connect to the course, and despite the lack of tread, a hole in the big toe and his significant other’s reservations about the beat-up old sneakers, he is thinking of strapping on his old kicks for the Miami race.
“I ended up finding a newer pair of the shoes I used to use on eBay, and I bought ’em, Honestly, I haven’t had a great race with them yet,” DeHart, 28, said. “I am really a creature of habit. I have always been really funny about my shoes. I get in my comfort zone with shoes. When I am running fast, especially like when I am running a race, I feel so much more at ease.”
DeHart, who will be running for the construction firm Moss and Associate, has had recent success in the 13.1 distance with first-place finishes in the FirstWatch Sarasota Half Marathon and the AllState Life Fort Lauderdale 13.1 Marathon.
In Miami’s Corporate Run last year, DeHart and his Asics finished just 22 seconds behind first-place finisher Ronnie Holassie, who won with a time of 15:26.
“Ronnie Holassie typically runs, and he has won it a couple of times, but this year he is injured, so he is not going to be running it,” DeHart said. “I am not sure about who is running [in the race], but Brian Sharkey was in third place last year.”
In this year’s Corporate Run in Fort Lauderdale — held in the beginning of April — Sharkey finished just 10 seconds behind DeHart with a time of 16:08 for a third-place finish.
Sharkey recently finished first in the warmup race for the Life Time Miami Marathon the Tropical 5K with a time of 16:55.
DeHart and Sharkey are the only returning competitors among the top-three finishers in last year’s race, but DeHart said he races against his own pace rather than the competitors.
“I going to try and just run my race,” DeHart said. “I try really hard to not focus on the competition. A lot of time that only adds more pressure.
“I focus on making sure that I am prepared, have rested enough and get the right amount of sleep.”
Although DeHart has success at the 5K distance, he has proven to be an accomplished runner at longer distances.
“My sweet spot, I have found, is the half marathon,” he said. “You know I think it is my most competitive race. I can compete in a 5K OK, but I never feel like I get a steady rhythm like I do in a half marathon.”