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OVERBOARD NIKES SPUR CREATION OF SNEAKER SOCIETY

Beachcombers along the Oregon and Washington coastlines are scrambling to collect Nike running shoes - the result of a lost cargo of the footware washed overboard from a container ship more than a year ago.

"I am wearing a pair now, and I love them," said Steve McLoed, a Cannon Beach artist who has collected 70 shoes, including 10 pairs.Local residents of this Pacific coast town 40 miles west of Portland said the spring tides deposited hundreds of Nike shoes along the coast.

The footware apparently washed overboard from a cargo ship more than a year ago, according to the Beaverton, Ore., athletics sportswear company.

Nike Transportation Manager Rick Hastings said the shoes came from five large shipping containers that washed off a ship bound from South Korea to Seattle in May 1990.

The containers held 40,000 pairs of Nike running shoes, golf shoes and hiking boots.

Hastings said the shoes have been found as far north as Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

"They have a little bit of seaweed on them and a few barnacles. But scrape that off and you have a standard pair of shoes," Hastings said.

"The only complaint I have received is that we didn't tie the pairs together, so they have to match them."

McLoed said beachcombers have formed the Sneaker Society which meets to swap shoes to come up with pairs.