Lenn Rockford Hann invented a running shoe that he says shaved 17 minutes off his marathon time, then spent years trying to sell it to companies such as New Balance, Under Armour and Adidas. The negotiations fell apart each time, partly because of Hann's royalty demands. "In real life [inventors] sometimes end up shooting themselves in the foot, and it's hard to watch," says Kris Hartner, owner of Naperville (Ill.) Running.

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