“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.”