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Footwear Plus Shoesday Tuesdays: Running Barefoot in the Big Apple

Footwear Plus Shoesday Tuesdays: October 12, 2010 <script type="text/javascript"

Footwear Plus Shoesday Tuesdays: October 12, 2010

Footwear Plus MagazineShoesday Tuesdays - Sponsored by WSA  

More than 250 runners from across the globe trekked to Governor’s Island Sunday for the chance to meet other barefoot enthusiasts and practice running sans shoes at the First Annual New York City Barefoot Run. Sponsored by Vivobarefoot and Tip Top Shoes, the event brought out newbies to the concept and seasoned pros, including many leaders of the barefoot running community—from minimalist marathon runners to Harvard professors specializing in biomechanics.

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1st Annual New York City Barefoot Run

“Barefoot running is really taking off,” said John Durant, founder of Barefoot Runners NYC and one of the event’s organizers. He noted that his group has seen a sharp spike in participation just within the last year—due largely to a spate of recent books and media coverage of the concept—and has already reached 350 members. “It used to be that people would say, ‘Oh my god, what are these people doing?'” Durant added. “Now they say, ‘Oh my god, those are the people I read about in that article.'”

Vibram FiveFingers at the 1st Annual New York City Barefoot Run.

The run followed an entire week of educational and social events for fans of the sport, including a Q&A with Dr. Dan Lieberman, Harvard Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology and leading barefoot running researcher. This year, both the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Harvard University released studies to support that barefoot running encourages a forefoot or mid-foot strike that reduces impact with the ground and is more efficient, and participants were quick to share their own minimalist running success stories.

“I wanted to get in touch with the barefoot group here,” said Arturo Ospina, who just moved to the city from Chicago, where he founded a Facebook group for local barefoot runners. Ospina began running barefoot when he heard the sport might help cure his shin splints. Calling it a “Lazarus” story, he soon was able to run the entire Chicago marathon—the first nine miles without any shoes and the last 17 in Vibram’s FiveFingers model. In fact, Vibram’s glove-like design proved to be the most popular footwear pick of the day, followed closely by Vivobarefoot’s Evo running shoe. Also spotted were minimalist models by Saucony, Asics, Feelmax and Nike. “I think there’s still a lot of, not skepticism, but fear,” Ospina said of the concept. “When I run in Central Park, people still give me weird looks.” But he noted the tide seems to be turning, as more people are clued in to the benefits of running barefoot.

Lester Wasserman, a buyer at Tip Top Shoes, agreed. “We’ve seen a tremendous uptick,” he noted, referring to sales of the store’s minimalist models. “And as word spreads, this should continue to snowball. This [barefoot run] is a great precursor for the years to come.”


Folk Tale

Bare Essentials

Footwear brands are jumping on the barefoot bandwagon, too.
Check out some of the most stylish new minimalist sports shoes being released this spring:

Sneak Attack

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