[FOUNTAIN]See how he runs

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[FOUNTAIN]See how he runs

Do you know what Leonardo da Vinci considered the "foremost piece of art?"

A human being's foot.

This Italian of many talents described feet as the masterpiece of the human body, based on his anatomical knowledge.

According to Da Vinci, human feet, which function in precision as a part of a body's machinery, are comprised of 52 bones, 76 joints and 64 muscles. They have been supporting mankind since humans began to walk and were known as Homo erectus. Humans, on average, walk round the Earth four times during their lives, supporting with their feet steps that total nearly 650 tons a day and 20 million tons over a lifetime.

These essential tools are even more important to marathon runners. The steady impact of a marathoner's feet support 120 percent of his weight while walking and three times that while running. In training for a race, marathoners typically cover 1,500 kilometers, equaling 2 round trips between Seoul and Busan.

Lee Bong-ju, 32, the gold medalist in the men's marathon at the Asian Games in Busan, does not have perfect feet. In fact, they are not a completely matching pair and are flat.

Sortie Lee is the name of the running shoes used by Mr. Lee. The shoes were created exclusively for him by the Asics Corp. "Sortie," which has French roots, means a mission or an attack by a single airplane, or a sudden issuing of troops. The shoes were offered to Lee Bong-ju in hopes of leading him to a "new challenge."

The shoes were developed by a Japanese technician named Mimura Hitoshi, using a budget of 70 million won ($55,000).

These shoes are nearly as light as feathers. One pair weighs only 145 grams, 20 grams less than most runners' shoes. Three layers of sponge are attached to the insoles of Sortie Lees, easing the impact while running. It is no wonder that Lee Bong-ju attributed his victory in the Asian Games to his amazing shoes, so light that Mr. Lee said he felt as if he were running barefoot.

However, shoe science is not the primary factor Mr. Lee won the marathon. Mr. Lee has enormous determination and strength, and great work habits. The Asian Games marathon was the 28th time in his career that he has covered the 42-kilometer-long race. Mr. Lee said that he will enter the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

We will be watching and cheering for him in Greece --and for his feet.



The writer is the popular culture news editor of the Joongang Ilbo.


by Oh Byung-sang

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