Thank you for your ongoing support. We appreciate your participation in our little company’s expansion and development. We are grateful and love what we are doing.
Our philosophy: we are interested in the designs of traditional sandals from all over the world, sandals made out of natural, sustainable materials that are easy to make by hand with simple tools. We believe that the minimalist footwear traditions are part of our shared heritage and that we should preserve them and encourage others to do the same.
Our production sandals represent the best fruits of our experiences and experiments with old-school footwear and gleanings from insights that we have gathered from both our ancestors and our customers. Through small-scale, sustainable production, we give a growing audience a chance to try what we consider to be fine minimalist running sandals that happen to be great everyday footwear too.
In the coming months the Luna Sandal website (www.lunasandals.com) will develop into a place where you can share your experiences, get advice from other users, find resupplies and view the various production and custom sandals available. Your feedback and shared experiences are crucial to our continued growth and improvement.
Hecho en Los Estados Unidos de América by happy monkeys for happy monkeys.
¡Muchas Gracias! the Luna Sandal Team.
Luna partners include: Barefoot Ted, and the brothers Jules & Bookis Smuin
PS. By the way, we are constantly testing new materials and designs and will be releasing new models featuring recycled tire soles by the end of next month. Stay tuned.
PSS. If you are in Seattle, be sure to come on by the Factory for a Factory Tour...set up an appointment online at www.LunaSandals.com
My fourth summer in a row visit to Leadville, Colorado and my third completion of the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Race...what an experience. Deep gratitude for good friends and a strong body.
This year's race was to be my second attempt at running the entire course barefoot and with my own Luna Sandals. Two years ago, I started with sandals, but had to change into VFFs KSOs at the top of Hope Pass in order to complete the race due to horrible weather conditions. This year I was able to run the entire race with my sandals (see www.LunaSandals.com) and in bare feet...a pure joy fest.
At the finish line carpet, McDougall at my side.
I spent the week before the race acclimatizing in Leadville staying at the Labbe Family Compound behind the famous Tabor Opera House. The week leading up to the race included lots of great reunions with old friends along with a couple high mountain hikes. I have thankfully not suffered from any serious altitude problems while participating in the race...which I believe is connected to my practice of deep nose breathing throughout the week and throughout the run.
Pacers Jules and Bookis Smuin and me - Post Race in Proven Grounds
This year, Mas Loco veteran Chris Labbe, aka Cabro, came up with a terrific strategy. Both he and I had not really been training hard in preparation for the race. In his case, he just didn't have time. In my case, I have been purposely finding out what the lowest amount of training is necessary to complete the race well. For me, that meant averaging less that 15 miles per week throughout the year, completing a marathon in May (Copenhagen Marathon - barefoot), a 50K in June (Vashon Island 50k in Luna Sandals) and a 50 miler in July (White River 50 Mile Trail Race - barefoot & Lunas),...and concentrating on running gracefully and joyfully everyday.
I also want to add that I spent one week in West Virginia in July training with Erwan Le Corre and practicing MovNat. Now that added something to my overall fitness for sure.
Matt Mahoney and me pre race.
So Cabro's plan seemed genius: we would run to Winfield (the 50 mile point) in 12 hours and 30 minutes and come back in the same amount of time...thus getting in at or under 25 hours...and getting the big belt buckle prize. Sounded good to me.
The key to this strategy was going be avoiding trying to go too fast...as a matter of fact, we were going to have to go slow...slower than our bodies craved when fresh, slower than most everyone else on the course. No easy feat.
However, I bought in to his plan, mostly because it meant I could take it easy and just enjoy the run through the wilderness...barefoot and in my sandals...and focus on staying focused and smooth and graceful and happy. I think I succeeded.
Me and Cabro entering Mayqueen outbound | Photo Matt Mahoney
All was going according to plan until we started climbing outbound Hope Pass. Cabro just could not keep his speed down. Up he went, passing one runner after another...even though we had already tested the idea of keeping the intensity down on this climb. I tried to stick to the plan, but was sad to see him go, for I was relying on his knowledge of the course and the splits we needed to maintain in order to get under 25.
On my way outbound to Hagerman Pass | Photo Matt Mahoney
By the time I got over to Winfield, I was pretty tired. It's amazing how much energy one must have in order to run 50 miles and still have enough energy to run 50 more. Once into Winfield, I met up with my first pacer, Dennis Shaver, and was given some homemade burritos (thanks Joey!) that really tasted great after having basically been living off of gels for the last 12 hours. Dennis' job was to get me up and over Hope Pass a second time...not easy even with fresh legs, but we did it and found ourselves in Twin Lakes for the second time...and me really starting to feel good.
Matt Mahoney captured this shot of me on my way towards the Hope climb
In Twin Lakes I picked up my second pacer, Luna Sandal wearing Jules Smuin. Jules was in for a treat. As we left Twin Lakes and started our 9 mile journey to Half Moon, I started to feel stronger and stronger. About half way to Half Moon, I started passing runners and would continue to do so for most of the rest of the race. Note: it is a delight to be strong during the last half of a 100 mile race. While others have spent the day running in the heat to gain position, I was able to preserve myself. Running at night is easier, primarily because it is cooler. And with headlights to chase in the distance, one has something to follow and aim for...persistence hunting ones way to the finish.
Crossing river out of Twin Lakes | Photo Matt Mahoney
At the Fish Hatchery I picked up my third pacer, Bookis Smuin sporting sandals too. He paced me up and over Powerline and down to Mayqueen. We were amazed at the power of my newest light, a Fenix PD30 - the brightest light you could ever hope for, small, lightweight, a dream...making it possible for me to run sections of the trail that proved impossible last year without good light.
Tracy Thomas and me, day before race.
Upon arriving in Mayqueen inbound, I picked up my final pacer, Born to Run author Christopher McDougall and he too was wearing sandals. Now, I truly did have a lot of juice left in me, but I was not about to just run without talking to Mr. Oso. We turned the last 3 1/2 hours into a time for catching up...hearing about all the exciting things happening including a possible film adaptation of BTR. Very cool stuff.
Outbound at Powerline
We finally arrived at the finish line at 7:16am...27 hours after I had left. Me feeling great. Feet feeling great. It is great to be alive.
Luna Sandals: the next generation of my huarache company | LESS > MORE
Running in the latest model of Luna Sandals - (*yes, these are the sandals I have been making since 2006...only getting a little better each generation).
It took a while before I really warmed up to wearing my sandals again. Mostly because barefoot is by far the simplest and freest way to run and move, the most sustainable, the most enjoyable...especially in ideal barefooting situations of temperature and terrain.
The second reason I had not been wearing them as much is because I never found a tying system that I really loved. Many of the traditional tying methods take too much time...so on and off can be a chore. I needed a fail-safe slip-on method of tying. Many over at the Minimalist Runner Google Group had been sharing various tying methods, but none perfectly satisfied...until now.
Maybe you like me have found that here are many situations where a simple slip-on sandal is nice to have. Luna Sandals are now able to play this role...and look great at the same time.
Indeed, Luna Sandals are about to move into a new phase of production. I am working with the idea that a sandal company can grow and thrive in the Pacific Northwest. No overseas materials or labor required. I am able to personally oversee every aspect of the creation of the sandals: the materials, the designs, the workspaces...all shall be as friendly as possible to both earth and primate alike.
Stay tuned for some exciting news about the next generation of Luna Sandals.
You may have found your way to my blog after reading "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. If so, welcome.
Many of you are probably looking for answers to the question how to run barefoot or with VibramFivefingers or with huarache sandals. You can learn from my experiences over the last 5 years recorded in this blog or participate in one of my coaching seminars.
However, to be up-to-date and part of a larger and growing community of footwear minimalists and barefoot explorers I suggest you check out the Minimalist Runner Google Group I started a couple years ago. You will find many like minded folks who are sharing their insights from a growing body of research and personal experience.
The mission of the Minimalist Runner Google Group is to share experiences running with minimalistic footwear, footwear that allows the foot to feel and to develop strength naturally, barefoot being the gold standard.
This group seeks to dispel the myth that you need an overly supportive, cushioned, orthopedic shoe-boot in order to push the limits of human potential in running and exploring the world. As a matter of fact, many in the group like me suggest that not only do you not need them, you are better off without them.
Please feel free to join and share YOUR experiences and YOUR adventures, big or small.
PS. The photo above ALMOST became the cover of "Born to Run" but I did not have a high enough resolution photo of it...a kind of self-portrait taken in the Verdugo Mountains near Burbank.
PSS. Learn more about making or buying your own huarache sandals at Luna Sandals www.lunasandals.com
I did it! I may have set a record for lateness leaving Winfield and time back to finish. I actually had one of the 13th best Looking forward to getting the data (Note: check out Chris Labbe's website on Leadville statistics for some very interesting data and charts, LT 100 Data Project).
Actually, the data is now available here.
Ran most of the course in Vibram FiveFingers, some with huaraches and quite a bit barefoot!
1. Spending a week in Leadville acclimatizing and meeting old and new friends.
2. Doing the entire race carrying all my own gear from start to finish except for food which I had in drop-bags at the various aid stations.
3. Running over half of the trail from Half Moon to Twin Lakes barefoot and going up to Hope Pass aid station barefoot...just too muddy for shoes and finding a great hiking stick somewhere along the way.
4. Dealing just fine with freezing cold wind, slippery mud, icy rain, hail so thick the trail was unseeable and snow. Crazy.
5. Being treated like a king by the best volunteers ever at each and every aid station. Thank you!
6. Feeling strongest while leaving Half Moon on the way back, running and running and running.
7. The joy of putting on my VFF KSOs after running and hiking for so long barefoot.
8. Staying consistent with my nutrition all the way through the race. Every aid station I would mix up my sports drink (maltodextrin, hemp protein, green magma, rehydration salt), chewed two Clif blocks and slurped some of my Hammer Gel with shelled hemp seeds. Never felt nausea, never felt low energy.
9. Realization that huaraches DO NOT work well in mud and rain!
10. Seeing the finish line after 28+ hours of adventure.
A huge thank you to Vibram Five Fingers for getting me through this race. Five Fingers are the ultimate footwear for those who want to learn to run with the trail. It is not about beating oneself up or enduring more pain, no, not at all. Rather, it is about learning to run gently and thoughtfully through a rugged environment. Learning how to feel the trail and respond to it. It is about subtle balance that the toes need to be part of. It is about freedom and elegance and simplicity. Give them a try.
Yes, most of you know me as a barefoot runner or a runner who endorses Vibram FiveFingers barefoot shoes. Both of these things are true. But I have been fascinated by the Tarahumara (Raramuri) Indians' footwear known as huaraches (or in the native tongue akaraches, ah-ka-ra-cheese) for a long time. Some old hippies call them Jesus Sandals, and some history buffs might think of them as gladiator sandals. But that's another story.
Running in Huaraches
My fascination with huarache sandals goes back to when I first read about some Tarahumara who had run the Angeles Crest 100 mile trail race wearing such seemingly unconventional footwear. How could it be done? Didn't they need more support? What about cushioning?
My research eventually led me to try barefoot running. A decision that led to great improvements in my running ability. Learning how to run well barefoot seems to be a fundamental first step in finding the best way to move your body on two legs, a fundamental step that is the beginning of a path of stronger and healthier running and living.
But what about rocky trails? What about urban environments and hard surfaces? Is barefoot always best?
Some folks enjoy being purists. They want to be barefoot everywhere and always. It can be done and is a viable option. However, I think some of the purists make the mistake of assuming that ALL footwear is bad in All situations. True, so much of the sports shoe industry has been built on junk science and mass marketing, but does that mean all footwear is bad? No, I don't think so. I am looking for balance.
My thinking has led me to study indigenous people and the footwear they use. You can learn a lot by studying shoes worn by people who survive on their feet, people who rely on their speed and agility for survival. The Tarahumara of Northern Mexico are such a people. They don't use footwear because of brands or logos, they pick it for practicality and effectiveness. It is always quite comforting to find shoe designs that have lasted for generations, footwear designs that are made by the people who wear them. The huarache or akarache is such a thing.
Other times and places have come up with designs and materials best suited for those environments. Yet, the huarache is designed and worn by people known for their long-distance, mountain running skills, worn by a people whose name for themselves, Raramuri, means fleet of foot. The fact that these proud running people wear huaraches made it clear to me that I was going to have to give them a try.
My first opportunity to try huaraches came in March 2006 on my first visit to the Copper Canyon. I was invited to participate in the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon put on by Micah True a.k.a Caballo Blanco (see his site here) in the town of Urique deep in the heart of the Sierra Tarahumara. While on the trip, I spent a lot of time trying to understand the huaraches. I even got so lucky as to have famed Tarahumara runner Manuel Luna make me a pair of huaraches. That started my love affair with these amazing sandals.
So, starting in April 2006, I began trying to run in the huaraches that Manuel had made for me. It was not easy learning how to tie them. I made a lot of mistakes. Furthermore, the pair he made for me were quite heavy, for he used the thickest, most expensive tire tread available (you buy section of used tire tread in little shops in Urique. They display the pieces like dried fish on hooks...He picked the best for me, so he thought).
I started imagining that perhaps there was a better material to make huaraches. I talked with one of Vibram's sole designers and asked if he had any material that he thought might work as a sandal sole. He sent me some stuff that I tested and liked. I have been experimenting ever since trying to find the perfect balance of lightweight, grip, cushion, style and strength.
Then I went back to the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon in 2007. This time I ran the race in a pair of my own huaraches. I also paid even more attention to the Tarahumara, learning the nuances of tying and designing the huaraches. This was a fantastic experience and greatly deepened my understanding and appreciation of the sandals.
I started selling huarache sandal-making kits and started making custom huaraches, learning as I went. I started experimenting with different sole materials and different strapping materials and different ways of building the sandals. I shared what I knew as I went forward and learned a lot from others on the internet.
At the same time I kept testing and using Vibram's FiveFinger shoes. They helped me to complete the Angeles Crest 100 mile race two years in a row. Something that I knew I could not do barefoot, and something that I was not sure my sandals where ready for.
Now I have come to the point where I think I have learned how to make a sandal that can handle the rigors of a 100 mile trail race. My newest huaraches sport a leather top footbed to add strength to the sides and comfort. I am also quite intriqued with a new neoprene sole material that is lightweight (less than 4 ounces) with surfside sand-like cushioning and strength. I think they are the best ever.
I believe that there are a growing number of runners and outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for time-tested solutions to the challenge of traveling on foot over rugged terrain. The huarache is a viable alternative, and it is an alternative that you can learn how to make yourself.
The sandals I am wearing in the photos above are my 6mm Vibram neoprene soled huaraches with leather footbed (for strength) and leather laces.
PS. You can get a kit to make your own huaraches >> www.lunasandals.com. There are also instructions on how to make a pair to download for free.
We started at Chantry at around 10:30 PM and headed for the finish.
The course was as dry as I have ever seen it. Most streams are now dry. The trailwork that has been done between Idle Hour and Sam Merrill is very evident. Great work. Also, the Mt. Wilson Toll Road has been graded and was like running on fine powdered snow.
I decided to test both 6mm double-hemp huarache and a 6mm latigo leather huarache...again.
On the way up the first long climb, the leather sandal pulled through the toe hole. I took the sandal off and continued climbing with one barefoot. Really no problem going up. As I climbed, I repaired the sandal, so by the time we took a rest, I could pop it back on, no worse for wear.
I had the toe knot come loose on the hemp sandal on the way down Sam Merrill. Repaired it on the road and continued.
I purposely went out with sandals that had been heavily used last week. I need to become completely confident in using these sandals including being able to repair on the road while moving if necessary.
San Gorgonio: 11,502 ft. Barefoot Up Huarache Down
Me, Larry and Jeff: Summit of San Gorgonio
Headstand on the Summit
One Hemp and One Leather Huarache with 6mm Vibram
Coming down in huaraches
What a great climb. Barefoot runner Larry Miquelon of Moreno Valley, CA invited me to climb Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California, with him and his son Jeff. He had recently purchased some huarache kits and was eager to test them on a real mountain run.
Spent the night Friday, got up early Saturday and headed for the South Fork Trail. On the way to the trail, we ran into Angeles Crest 100 veteran Angel Perez running along the highway and said hello.
From parking lot to summit is 11.6 miles. Larry and I went up barefoot. Barefooting is much easier than it seems when going up, even steep rocky trails. We both summitted barefoot. It took 4 hours to make it to the top.
Coming down we switched into huaraches. As you can imagine, we got interesting comments and questions both ways.
PS. Read about my barefoot climbs of Mt. Whitney, tallest mountain USA (except Alaska) click here.
Mt. San Gorgonio, tallest peak in Southern California, 11.502 ft. (3,505 meters)
Leather on 6mm Vibram & Double Hemp on Elephant Bark (6.34mm)
Vibram vs. Elephant Bark
Broke a hemp strap
Took the two thicker soled huaraches out for a tough, hot and fast run up and down La Tuna Canyon's Hostetter Fire Road. Almost 4 miles up and 4 miles down.
The soles performed wonderfully on the hard rocky road.
A problem developed with the double hemp on the way up. I broke one of the straps. I believe that I have the holes too far in on the ankle holes on this version giving much more surface area for the hemp to touch the ground under a weight bearing area and get abraded.
Otherwise, the double hemp felt AS GOOD AS the leather. If I were to have added wetness to this run, the double hemp would have become the clear winner, but the break makes me have to go back to the drawing board.
I am fairly certain that I can fix the problem. So, this weekend will be a hard one testing several version getting OH SO CLOSE to a production model.
Great weekend for huarache testing here in LosAngeles.
Angeles Crest: Test Course
On Saturday, I ran 20 miles of Angeles Crest 100 trails testing out some new huarache improvements. Unfortunately, the first part of my experiment failed when incorrectly sized rubber grommets failed and I tore the ankle hole out on a pair of Elephant Bark huaraches with leather straps.
6mm vs 4mm: Rocky Running
The last 10 miles of the run was mostly rocky, downhill single track. I wore a 6mm VIBRAM Cherry soled huarache on one foot and a 4mm on the other. Both with hemp.
The 6mm Cherry is a much better mountain sole. The 4mm Cherry is best suited for situations where you want a little protection and a lot of feel. 4mm acts more like a second skin which makes it a better choice for shorter, less technical runs.
New Hemp Discovery: 2 better than 1
Sunday had some great discoveries (see above) including the realization that 2 strands of the 5mm braided hemp might be better than one. It IS better. The feel is very nice and it looks good too. Much more testing necessary, but it is very promising.
Brass Grommets: very nice
I also tested some brass grommets on a 4mm Vibram Cherry sole. The grommets are too big, but the idea is good. More work needs to be done.
Finally, I repaired some tears and problem grommets using rubber grommets and donuts with Rhino glue.
Holy Huarache Sole Took an old (pre-Cherry) Vibram sole rubber (Q487) and filled it with 7/32" (5.55mm) holes to see if it would be "airier" and a little less slippery when wet or sweaty. As for making it less slick, the holes worked. However, for whatever reason, the sole felt hotter than the sole without holes!? Holy Huarache Hole Also, tested out a hole repair idea for torn ankle holes. Using excess material from a pair of sandals, I punched out some rubber donut/washers and Rhino glued them to the footbed. Worked perfectly. Only drawback, a little too thick, otherwise perfect. BFT Click here to view my latest huarache running sandal kits and custom made offerings.
Today I wanted to test a new material that I am very impressed with, i.e., aluminum cut from a beer can which I glued directly to the rubber with Rhino Glue.
I used the aluminum washer to repair breaks on an earlier pair of test huaraches. It held for nearly 10 miles of very steep hiking/running.
The strength of the bond of the aluminum to the rubber was better than any other material that I tested. Unfortunately, the way I made the washer, or the thinness of the aluminum, caused it to fail after climbing up an extremely steep, loose-graveled trail.
How to Tie BFT's Hemp-Strapped Huarache Running Sandals
Watch this video to learn how I tie my hemp-strapped huarache running sandals.
Organic Hemp Huaraches
My newest huarache running sandal uses braided organic hemp for strapping and Vibram Cherry soling material. This is a 100 mile mountain trail running sandal. Sole and hemp could handle 500 miles in stride.
You can make your own. Within one year of focused pursuit, I can't imagine why anyone with a desire to make their own 100 mile shoes couldn't do it, so just DO IT!
My Latigo Leather Huaraches After Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon 2007 Photo Andrew Labbe
I am now offering huarache running sandal kits and custom made sandals, go to:
Barefoot Ted's Adventures
817 5TH AVE N
Seattle, Washington 98109
Barefoot Ted from "Born to Run" is an independent athlete committed to re-discovering primal human capacities and encouraging others to do the same. (bio)(contact)