From the monthly archives:

July 2012

Caveman vs. Podiatrist

by Christopher on July 30, 2012

“Born to Run” was just featured in the new THNKR series. Fascinating to watch a podiatrist on the verge of changing his thinking before your eyes…

“Worrying lack of high-quality research”

by Christopher on July 23, 2012

That’s what the British Medical Journal and the BBC found in a study aired last week when they looked into the “science” behind running shoes and sports drinks.

Puma, for instance, claims its running shoes are “designed to… minimise injury, optimise comfort and maximize speed.”
But when investigators asked for evidence?

Puma declined to provide his research team with any studies to prove that their shoes can deliver on those claims.

Oddly, American media keeps missing this story. Over the past three years, they’ve been giving a pass to what is arguably a multi-billion dollar case of consumer fraud. HBO Real Sports is the only media source in the U.S. that has ever revealed that running shoes are likely doing more harm than good.

Among the prizes this Sunday at the Mt.A 5k — “The World’s Friendliest Footrace,” as certified by Jenn Shelton, also the race director — is Queen of the Climb:

At an undisclosed point during the first half mile of the Mount A 5K–America’s Friendliest 5K– race course, there will be a cow bell hanging from a pole.
The first overall female and male to ring the bell will be crowned QUEEN (or KING) OF THE CLIMB and win a free jacket from Patagonia, the title sponsor of Mount A 5K –America’s Friendliest 5K.
Don’t forget to shoot out of the gates, only one lady knows where the bell will be placed, and she’s not talking without an extensive belly rub and four jelly doughnuts.

The next Fivefingers: After zero-drop, zero A.D.

by Christopher on July 16, 2012

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction. — Einstein

By this time next year, I’m betting the newest footwear sensation will be the oldest: huaraches, the one shoe that has been in action since the beginning of time.

Lash-on sandals were worn by ancient Greek messengers, Roman Centurions, Tibetan monks, and Hopi braves, and they’re still the go-to shoe for Tarahumara Indians. Even when they were given new running shoes at the Leadville Trail 100 in 1994, the Tarahumara slipped right back into their homemade huaraches as soon as they got the chance — and won.
Barefoot Ted learned the art of huarache-making from Manuel Luna, a Tarahumara elder who took Ted under his wing while we were down in the canyons. When Ted got home, he remained true to traditional design but began tinkering with materials. Instead of the leather straps and discarded tires the Tarahumara use, Ted found rubber compounds that were just as tough but dramatically thinner. He also unearthed an out-of-production elasticized cord that vastly improved lacing. For some models, he also layered on a leather insole that softens like a baseball glove. As a finishing touch, he named them after his mentor: Luna sandals.

Inspired by Ted’s experiments, other backroom inventors have added their own twists to the ancient design, launching the greatest burst of innovation the huarache has seen in 3,000 years. Branca Barefoot created a clever pair of side-loops that allow you to simply tie your sandals like regular shoes. Unshoes got rid of tying altogether by deploying the same cinching strap you find on a bike helmet. Over at Invisible Shoe, they’ve created a sole that’s thick enough for jagged stones yet pliable enough to roll up and stick in your pocket. Ozark Sandals dealt head-on with three huarache drawbacks—the toe strap, rubber feel, and dull appearance—by coming up with a durable rope sole in Popsicle colors held on by soft cord webbing (my wife has lived in hers all summer and only changes them to rotate colors).

Right before Barefoot Ted ran Leadville last summer, he presented me with a pair of Lunas which I threw under my bed as soon as he wasn’t looking. I was supposed to pace Ted for the last stretch at two in the morning, and no way was I running rocky trails in the dark in those things. But just to be polite, I decided I’d strap them on for a few yards and then swap them out for some real shoes. When we crossed the finish line four hours later, they were still on my feet. I didn’t have a single blister, bruise or stubbed toe.

Questions? All answered by Barefoot in Az

Caballo’s legacy is in great hands: Caballo’s wonderful girlfriend, Maria, and Josue Stephens — a seasoned race director, ultra runner, and longtime Mas Loco — are heading down to the Copper Canyons this month to lock in logistics with the Presidencia of the host town, Urique. Choosing Josue Stephens as co-director of the race was inspired; he’s smart, tireless, fluently bilingual, and canyon savvy. You couldn’t build a better pick in a lab.
Maria tells me: “The 2013 CBUM (Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon) is progressing beautifully, or as Micah would say organically.” It should be a truly epic event, considering how many veteran Mas Locos will return to the race to wish their friend vaya con dios. Registration is now open on Ultrasignup.
No doubt, Barefoot Ted and his Lunar Monkeys will be there in force.