Saturday, January 8, 2011

An organised Barefoot running meet-up - it's not a myth and it does happen!

(The feet of Barefoot/Minimalist running - Simon in his Vibrams, Me in my hacked water-shoes and Craig (Barefoot hero) in his bare tootsies)

So how many Barefoot/Minimalist runners does it take to change a lightbulb?

Probably none, they would sigh and figure, "who needs a new li
ghtbulb, won't the light from the beer fridge be just as good?"

There is a reason for the lame attempt of joke honest. I am not just randomly inflicting my bad humour at you. Today was our first official Barefoot (and minimalist) runners meet-up for the Vancouver Chapter of BRS.

We were hoping for about six runners today, but due to cough, colds and other random stuff that happens, we only managed three in the end. Me (kittyk), Craig (flintstone) and Simon (peekay). I had met Simon before at the 10K Fall Classic in November. This was the first time I had met Craig. Craig is a lawyer for the Attorney-General and was busy with a trial when we had the Fall Classic meeting. (Oh, as a pointer - Don't lump Lawyers and Politicians in the same grouping; I made that little faux-pas. It produces the same reaction as calling a 'New Zealander' Australian)

The weather was perfect. We were attempting a run around the seawall in Vancouver, (about 10K). Every other time I have tried this run, Vancouver has been blanketed by fog. I have never managed to see the beautiful vistas of Stanley Park - the wonderful sights of grey mist, I am very familiar with! As I was driving into the city, I had a feeling this was going to happen again, but as I reached Downtown, the fog cleared and we had beautiful winter sunshine. The temperature was probably around about freezing, with the ground colder and damp/icy.

In my nervous state I hadn't had much sleep last night and as a resulting consequence I ended up being 20 mins early at the meet-up point of Coal Harbour Community Centre. Craig arrived first and luckily the 'Zems' gave him away. It's interesting that Barefoot runners seem to be more interested in runners feet than in any other gadgets they may have.

Craig and I waited for Simon (who we later found out was hopelessly lost and running up and down West Georgia St ). It was great to talk to Craig. I already knew a little about Craig from FaceBook and BRS, but it's always more interesting to hear everything in an actual conversation. I mean, face-to-face conversation, it's something 'normal' people do, (so I hear).

(So how do you look skinny despite the large quantity of chocolate you ate over Christmas? You stand next to very TALL runners - the perspective makes everything about you look small)

Simon turned up and after a pre-run photo and the usual handshakes we headed off. Craig is a pure veteran when it comes to Barefoot running. He has been barefoot running for 10 years and of course his form is perfect. Simon is coming on in leaps and bounds in both distance and form since I last saw him in November. My form however was awful. There are some days when running does not come naturally; with lack of sleep, other matters on my mind and the excitement of the meet-up I was all over the place. It may also have helped if I had shut up more and concentrated on what I was doing, but hey, I was the token woman - it's our natural curse to fill the silence with as much inane conversation as possible, regardless if it is wanted.

I made the decision to take off my funky water shoes at about 1.5KM. This was all due to excitement and it was clear that my feet hadn't warmed up enough. My form was hampered by cold feet and after 5KM they were numb and unfortunately bleeding..:( The hacked water booties came back on and we progressed under the Lions Gate Bridge.

Craig is surprisingly fast (well faster than Simon and I) and luckily he was a good enough sport to allow us to walk/run the last half of the 10KM. I was glad as the bleeding toe was causing my form to deteriorate even more and I was developing a fantastic blister! (It's epic - it's so large it could almost be counted as a land mass in it's own right). I was also feeling the extra poundage I was carrying due to the large amounts of chocolate I had eaten over Christmas. Curse you 'Dairy Milk' and 'Quality Street'!

Craig run's this route quite a bit and as the more experienced Barefoot runner, he has de-sensitised the local population. I was surprised we didn't get more looks, but as Craig pointed out; "You can feel comfortable making comments to one barefoot runner, but when there's more, we are a little more intimidating!". I think that was 'intimidating' in the 'mass-murder' sense, rather than 'intimidating' due to sparkling conversation and intelligence.

The second half of the route was warmer and we were all eager to get to the obligatory "Hobbit second breakfast". We were still walk/running, when Simon made the suggestion that we "enter the Community centre running". This seemed a good idea, but as Craig was the only one who knew the area and he's fitter than us, he didn't disagree. Simon and I realised the large amount of steel and glass buildings in the area had confused us and the centre was further away than we realised. We did all enter the building as if we had just run up Everest and it made a nice ending to the run.

(Post-run "hobbit second breakfast)

We all decided to go for our second breakfast in a cafe close to Craigs' work where we decided that we wanted to make these meet-ups a monthly event. So yes, you will be hearing more of these race reports, although I am hoping in the future they may have less preamble and more of our exploits. ;)

On the first BRS Vancouver meet-up I was struck about the diversity and the humour within the Barefoot running community. Craig, Simon and I all seemed to have a similar humour and we spent the run making jokes (many of which were not running related and probably not 'Politically correct'). We, (well Craig and Simon anyway) all had interesting jobs and a wonderful take on life. Although I haven't managed to learn much about fellow runners at the races I have been too, I liked the fact that our little group enjoyed running first and not how far or how quick we raced. It's a trend I see a lot on the Barefoot running sites and I think it's a interesting clue into the mid-set of those that decide running shoes are only useful as door-stops.

I think the first meet-up was a success and I am hoping our little gang of misfits will grow and be a more common sight in the Downtown Vancouver area. Do you think we get more people if I offer beer at the end?


  1. Sounds like a fantastic meet up! And Wow, how tall are Craig and Simon?!?!

  2. Okay they aren't VERY Tall, I am a "shortie", but they were very tall compared to me. I am only 5ft2, so I am guessing Craig and Simon are well-over 6 foot.

  3. How fun!! You inspire me to get a meetup going here.

  4. Sounds like loads of fun (except for bleeding toe and blister that is). After a run in the cold I would not only have a second breakfast but elevenzies too. :)

  5. Great report! I'm jealous. I'm gonna have to get something started here in NJ. Take care of that monster blister and keep up the running and blogging!

  6. This is wonderful! I am trying to locate some awesome barefoot running groups as a part of our running barefoot book promotion. Dr. Craig Richards and I have written what we think is the most comprehensive how-to manual on barefoot running available, due out from Penguin later this month. It is a part of their "idiot's guide" or "beginners guide" series. The book is "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running." I think you will all very much enjoy it. We really try to break the movement down into is basic form so that others can learn to successfully and carefully make the transition to natural running without any of the normal hindrances that beginning barefooters might make. Thanks! Thomas Hollowell

  7. What a great thing! Sorry about your blister mass! I hope that heals quickly!