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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paradigm Shifting Trojan Horses - Vibram Five Fingers

So, it has been nearly 4 years since I got my first pair of Vibram Fivefingers...several months before they were launched to the public in March 2006. I have been testing the next generation prototypes ever since then...and it has been amazing to watch as they have grown in popularity, and greatly satisfying and validating to be playing a role in their popularization.

(photo to right, Boston Marathon 2006)

I remember how excited I was to get my first pair...they were the first shoes that I felt came close to a true barefoot feel and would also allow me to run more comfortably on tough mountain trails. Furthermore, they were the first minimal shoe that I tested that didn't fall apart after 20 miles of hard trail running.

My progress with the FiveFingers came fast and furious, but keep in mind, I had already been running for nearly 2 years barefoot, and had already completed several road marathons barefoot.

Some of the firsts I was privileged to do wearing Vibram Fivefingers include the first marathon, first Boston marathon and Boston qualifying marathon, first ultra marathon and first 100 mile trail race in VFFs.

I really felt that I was playing a small part in facilitating a stretching of our collective imaginative boundaries of what is possible and looked forward to seeing others stretch their own boundaries, carrying our fundamental human capacity, to run, further along while at the same time more closely mimicking the way our ancestors moved...on foot.

(photo left Los Angeles Marathon 2006)

I still think that barefoot is best, but barefoot is free..., and I always knew that the only way barefooting was going to become a true, mainstream hit was that there was going to have to be a product...something people could buy. And the VFF is that product..., or from my perspective, Trojan Horse.

The Vibram Fivefinger is a foot glove. No support, no real cushioning. Yet, it is a thing I can buy. A solution that can be purchased. Consumer cultures feel comfortable with it. But what is its real message? It seems the real message of the VFF is that your foot is just fine AS IT IS! That regaining strength and range of motion in your foot is a worthy goal. That you are not broken by default.

Furthermore, I wanted to see the concept of barefoot running enter into the dialogue of contemporary popular culture. The publishing of McDougall's book "Born to Run", from my point of view, was a pivotal, paradigm shifting moment in the re-awakening of the American consciousness about barefooting and our capacities as humans...before the addition of the padded shoe.

So run free if you wish, or buy a pair of VFFs or other minimal shoe, but always remember, you already have the best pair of shoes you will ever own...and they are the only ones that are self-nourishing, self-healing and get stronger and smarter with use...the only ones you can grow...by eating.

(photo left by Luis Escobar, 2006 Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon)

Viva barefoot.

Barefoot Ted

PS.
Order Vibram FiveFingers from here and smile :-)




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Saturday, July 18, 2009

FiveFingers KSO Trek – New for Fall ’09


Order Vibram FiveFingers KSO Treks by clicking here. Thanks.



BFT running with the new Treks in the Dalles

From the upcoming Vibram trade catalog:

The Men’s KSO Trek is a more rugged version of our popular KSO. The Kangaroo leather upper and sock liner are soft against the foot, yet strong and tear resistant, with outstanding breathability.

A 4mm EVA midsole offers plating protection from stone bruising, and a lightly cleated 4mm Vibram performance rubber outsole delivers improved traction on trails and over more rugged terrain.

KSO Trek is best for: Light Trekking, Trail Running, Fitness Walking, & Travel.

Vibram Five Finger Treks...trail running shoes...bitchen!!!

My experience:

When I first put these shoes on, I knew that I had finally felt the most comfortable VFF yet. The kangaroo skin's soft side is INSIDE the shoe...so your foot is encased in smoothness. Under 6 ounces. Rugged. Breathable. Thank you Gawd!

These are the shoes that I am going to use for this year's Leadville 100 mile trail race. As many of you know, I have done trail ultras in FiveFinger Classics, Sprints and KSOs, but this seems destined to be my favorite 100 mile trail shoe. Thank you Vibram!

My favorite footwear for everyday running? My bare feet.

My new favorite footwear for 100 mile trail running? VFF Treks

BFT

NOTE: Two most asked questions in the comments section...answered:

From Tony Post, President of Vibram USA

To answer the questions for your website:

Suggested retail in the US is $125 for the KSO Trek. Premium Kangaroo hide is not cheap.

The shoes can be machine washed (be careful here as the leather can bleed, so wash alone or with dark colors on a gentle cycle). The shoes should be air dried out of direct sun and away from a heat source (strong sun or drying near a heater source could cause the leather to shrink and pull away from the bottom, causing sole separation or de-lamination).


PS.
Order Vibram FiveFingers from here and smile :-)

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Minimalist Runner - Barefoot, Huaraches, FiveFingers...

Howdy Folks

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 Vibram Fivefingers 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.

BFT

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.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Ideal Footwear: a barefooters perspective

Hermes (Lysippos c. 350 BCE)

So, what is the ideal shoe from the perspective of a barefooter?

Firstly, let me make it perfectly clear...nothing comes close to the perfection of the foot as-it-is.

With that in mind, here's what you should look for in footwear:

1. Lightweight - we don't need any extra weight.
2. Extremely flexible - don't control my foot thank you.
3. No support - none, we want to get stronger through good form.
4. No cushioning - none, it's not needed (see above).
5. Wide - freedom for feet to be whatever they are...always.
6. Thin-soled - we need to FEEL the ground.
7. Puncture proof - as rarely needed insurance.
8. Durable - long lasting, wear well.
9. Easy on-and-off - please.
10. Portable and easy to stow - so we can travel together.
11. Fairtrade made - thinking about the future.
12. Green - earth safe materials, recyclable, duh.
13. Breathable - so as not to suffocate.
14. Good grip - let us stay upright when things get slippery.
15. Toe articulation - I have toes for a reason.
16. Beautiful - because we never tire of beauty's inspiration.
17. (added 8/8/09) No Stink - a shoe should not smell bad...ever.

What do you think?

BFT

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mt. Lukens Barefoot in the Snow




Erwan Le Corre and I climbed the highest mountain within the city limits of Los Angeles, Mt. Lukens at 5074 feet, on the 10th. About halfway up we found ourselves in the snow...barefoot. We continued on to the summit barefoot and shirtless. After a break at the summit, we dressed warmer, put on our FeelMax Niesa footwear and headed down. About 3 hours and 30 minutes. 8.8 miles round trip.

The back country of Los Angeles...different than you expected?

Ocean in the distance, downtown LA to the left

Le Corre sprinting near the summit...see barefoot prints?

FeelMax footwear a welcome relief after climbing up barefoot.

BFT near summit...wearing my climbing uniform...Hansen Dam in background.

Erwan Le Corre near summit.

Our trail about halfway up...and it only got deeper as we advanced.

To purchase FeelMax Footwear in the USA, click here.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Running in Seattle with FeelMax Shoes





Volunteer Park snow run


University of Washington Husky Stadium in the background



Up the Interlaken



Through the park on the way home

Tiger Mountain rocky trail
| Photo by Laura Houston

Excellent feedback through sole - good for balance feel

My dirty, well-used FeelMax Niesas (set for European release June 2009)

1 mm thick puncture-proof sole


Howdy Folks

I am testing out a new shoe from a family owned company in Finland called FeelMax.

See www.feelmax.com (not yet available in the USA)

UPDATE 12/08/09, NOW AVAILABLE IN THE USA, CLICK HERE

I have the latest version shipped to me directly from their factory in Thailand.

I am VERY impressed with this shoe and will be writing more in the coming
weeks.

The version I have has a 1 mm thick sole made out of a Kevlar impregnated material developed by Continental for FeelMax. Amazing stuff.

Mine are VERY easy to get on and off. The feeling is amazingly close to barefoot. 1mm sole is very thin and very durable.

Happy.

BFT

PS. Read more here.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Leather Lined Vibram FiveFinger Sprints

BUY VIBRAM FIVEFINGERS

Leather-lined Sprints

So, I finally tested out something I had been wanting to do for a long time. I lined a pair of Vibram FiveFinger Sprints with upholstery quality black leather and glued it in. Oh my Gawd! These feel nice...

Vibram, let's hear it for a beautiful leather FiveFinger in the future!

I prefer to wear my FFs without socks. Most of the time that is just fine. However, I always wondered what it would feel like to have a soft leather interior. Now I know, and I like it.

Leather-lined would not be good for situations where you would be dealing with a lot of water. It is just a fun experiment to try...to see what is possible.



Perhaps I will start offering kits to line your FF too. Basically, a couple strips of fine leather and a special shoe rubber cement, so you too can give it a try.

BFT
My Neighbor and His Leather FiveFingers
Copyright BFT's Adventures

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Why Huaraches?

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.

BFT


PS. You can get a kit to make your own huaraches here. There are also instructions on how to make a pair to download for free.

PSS. You can learn how to tie you huaraches here.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Holy Huarache Sole and Hole Tests


Holy Huarache Sole and Hole Tests

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.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

1906 Running Shoe Design


From the description, the construction is such that it "gives to the shoe a fit like a glove or stocking." "The construction of the shoe is also such that there will be no seams on the inside which will rub or chafe the foot."

They knew a lot in 1906. The most important lesson: less = more.

BFT

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Barefoot Sandal Patent 1938


This barefoot sandal was invented for "modern dance". Looks pretty cool. I wonder how many pairs sold.

BFT

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Can your running shoes do this? Part 2

Can your running shoes do this? Mine can!


Having fun learning how to balance. Taking full advantage of my environment. The horse trail rails are perfect for balancing. The FiveFingers help me feel a little better about falling off into rocks and cactus.

BFT

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

FiveFingers Log Board Workout - video



I use the environs of Hansen Dam and the Verdugo Mountains (both are one mile away from my front door, one North the other South) as my testing grounds. I have learned to run barefoot on all the surfaces that nature provides in this area, and that ends up being a lot of different surfaces.

The log board workout is one of my favorites. It can be done barefoot, but it is not nearly as much fun when you have to worry about splinters. With my FiveFingers on, I can surf the logs, i.e., log-boarding!

Enjoy.

BFT

PS. I hope to soon get some video footage of another throwback to early skateboarding. Remember skateboarding in washes? Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

FiveFingers Do Rocks and Horse Trail Videos

A couple more mini-videos of me running in the FiveFingers Sprints yesterday at Hansen Dam. I really like the new Sprints. The ability to micro-adjust them helps a lot in making the shoe fit snug, but not tight. Perfect for balance sports and for helping you FEEL the trail, but not FEEL the pokes.

BFT



FiveFingers Do Rocks




Vibram FiveFingers Horse Trail Trotting

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FiveFingers Tight-Rope



You ask, "what can I do in those FiveFingers that I can't do in my regular running shoes?"

My answer: "This!"

The FiveFingers let your feet do what feet do, i.e., really flex, really feel, and still get the bonus of a little protection which goes a long way in some environments...like jumping down onto rocks, or if you go the wrong way, onto yucca and cactus!

BFT

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Red FiveFingers Sprints - BITCHEN

Getting ready for another huarache run today. Off to the Angeles Crest.

Notice my new RED Sprints? Those are coming with me. I got them this week and have already put some great test miles on them. I hope to get some video soon, but these new barefoot shoes allow me to do some really cool things over at Hansen Dam, including some great balancing/tight-rope walking, incredible rock, steep-ledge and log scrambling. These suckers grip like mad.

BFT

PS. Today's music on iPod Shuffle: Solid State Deluxe Podcast from www.podomatic.com

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

FiveFingers Go Tribal


I recently acquired some rubber sole material from the VP of Design and Development for Vibram USA. I took that material and quickly made some huarache sandals similar to the Tarahumara sandals that I have been training in. The result? A very interesting shoe/sandal that combines my favorite shoe, the FiveFinger, with my favorite sandal, Tarahumara huarache.

I took'em out for a run. I took them to some of the toughest, rockiest areas I could find. They performed well. The dual layer of flexible protection allowed me to feel the ground without pain. The sandal sole is very flexible. It kept me very aware of the contour of the trail.

I have been dreaming of a modular shoe/sandal that could be added to or subtracted from in order to meet the demands of the terrain. This shoe is something like I imagined.

Disadvantages include difficulty putting on and taking off and no toe protection. Advantages are lightweight, breathable (holy FF) and low profile cushioning.

More testing required.

BFT


photo by Luis Escobar

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Vibram FiveFingers: Next Generation Prototypes

Seen for the first time?


Notice anything different?



Barefoot Ted's gone off the deep-end with PROTOTYPE FiveFingers Sprint

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Nike "Free" should be FiveFingers Video

As usual, Nike has made a beautiful promotional video.

This commerical would be perfect for Vibram's FiveFingers, or Barefoot KenBob's RunningBarefoot.org

BFT

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Vibram Interviews Barefoot Ted

BUY VIBRAM FIVEFINGERS



"Barefoot" Ted McDonald
April 17, 2006
Boston, MA



How did you get started running in FiveFingers?

BFT: I started running in my mid 30's wearing running shoes, but I was never able to train long enough to prepare for a marathon. I tried shoes with extra cushioning and shoes with more stability, but I just couldn't find anything that allowed me to train the way I knew I could. A few years ago, I stumbled across the idea of running barefoot. Could it be possible? For whatever reason, I immediately discovered I was able to run pain free and train longer by running barefoot. Running barefoot forced me to run with good form and gently. No pounding allowed. I also found that I liked the feeling and feedback I received from the ground under my feet.

I started to research barefoot running online and discovered I wasn't the only one running barefoot, that there are many, many people who had been doing this longer than I had. The 20th century is filled with many famous, world-class barefooters. I also read about Dr. Nicholas Romanov and the POSE Method of running which improved my form allowing me to run longer and injury free, and I read about and started corresponding with famous barefoot runner Barefoot Ken Bob.

However, I also like to run trails, which can be pretty tough barefoot, especially steep downhills over rocky terrain. A few months ago I had read about FiveFingers by Vibram, I knew they were marketing the product for walking and some water sports, but I thought I would try them for running on trails.


I soon discovered that FiveFingers gave me some of that same feeling I get running barefoot, but they allowed me to run trails and rough terrain for longer periods of time more safely. Now I use them as part of my regular training program.


Although this particular version was not designed specifically for running, it works pretty well. I've even ran a couple 50 mile trail races in FiveFingers.


Do you recommend FiveFingers for other runners?

BFT: These shoes have great potential for runners. Athletic trainers, health professionals, and even footwear manufacturers are all beginning to embrace the many health and performance advantages of running barefoot. People are finally beginning to understand that running barefoot, even if its on grass a couple of days a week, can improve strength, balance, agility and most importantly running form. Most overuse injuries are really misuse injuries caused from poor running form. Learning good running form is an important step toward running injury free.

I know that most people are more accustomed to wearing shoes running. While running in shoes may offer great for support, shoes can "cast" the foot, which can lead to some atrophy of the muscles in the feet and lower legs. Wearing FiveFingers, even if it's just for a couple of hours 3 times a week, can help to revive and strengthen those muscles. I would recommend you start by wearing them 1-2 hours at a time for the first few weeks, allowing your foot muscles to adapt.


Are your paid to endorse Vibram FiveFingers?

BFT: Actually, I liked the product so much I contacted Vibram to let them know. When I told them how much I liked the product and that I was using them for running they were pretty surprised. Now they provide me with product to test and report back, they help pay for some of my travel expenses for races, but no, I'm not on the payroll. I like working as a Vibram tester, giving them feedback, testing the product under extreme conditions.

In the end, I don't like shoes; however, FiveFingers are not really shoes in a traditional sense. I can endorse them because they really work for me.

Is running barefoot or in FiveFingers a good idea for everyone?

BFT: Not necessarily, running barefoot or running in FiveFingers is a very personal choice and not for everyone. Individuals should research this approach to determine if it is right for them. There is a great website where you can learn more at Posetech.com. FiveFingers work pretty well when you employ the Pose Method of running.

But remember, begin gradually, use caution, listen to your body, and as they say at Vibram, you should always consult a physician before beginning, or changing, your regular exercise routine.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

FiveFingers™ Speed Training



photo by Ona McDonald

Did a little speed work today and yesterday wearing the FiveFingers™ barefoot shoes. I just had to get out and feel some of that sunlight that we have been lacking this past week here in Los Angeles.

I love running in and around Hansen Dam in the East San Fernando Valley. If you haven't been there, you are missing out on a great running spot.

Best Regards, Barefoot Ted

PS. You can view some more in-action running shots from this same day by clicking here.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Los Angeles Marathon XXI wearing Vibram® FiveFingers™ Barefoot Shoes

BUY VIBRAM FIVEFINGERS

Ran the LA Marathon as a training run in preparation for the upcoming Boston Marathon.

Ran it in 3:30:57 which puts me in the top 7% of the 40-44 age group.

It was the first road marathon that I ever wore shoes!








photos by MarathonFoto

I was sponsored by Vibram® to wear a pair of their soon to be released FiveFingers™ barefoot shoes.



I am still testing these shoes, but so far, I must say that I am impressed by their quality. The feel is as close to barefooting as you can get.

I am looking forward to wearing them in Boston.

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