Sunday, September 4, 2011

Barefoot 5k in Grand Rapids and the bunch of happy wierdos there

[Plenipotentiary and general admin monkey's Note: This post was sent to us by John Jeffery and is another race report of what seems to be the smilest race so far. The Merrell barefoot 5K in Grand Rapids.  His blog can be found here:]

This past Sunday was the Merrell Barefoot 5k in Grand Rapids. There was also a kids 1k and a 1 mile. My kids both ran the 1k, and I was super proud of them for hustling their little butts. Malina came in 4th. She's 6 and the kids ahead of her were 8-11, so she really hung in there. Kasper was further back but again it was the same group and he machined it. My lovely wife came even though she wasn't feeling well and took care of all of us.

The 5k was a nice mixture of some serious runners and the rest of us. It's always a pleasure to see the serious runners just gunning it to the finish. What I heard many people saying was that it was the first time they'd spent much time with a group of barefooters. Most of the time we're the ones getting the strange looks. It was fun to spend some time with a bunch of like minded wierdos.

This was a super fun event. It was in a beautiful park in GR. I have to say I much prefer to do my running on something harder than soft grass. It's just too easy for things to hide in the dog pile I stepped in at one point. It was right in the middle of the warm up group and I watched a bunch of people step right in it. I didn't say anything as it all got wiped off during the race anyway, but I guess the point is, I like pavement and hard trails.

It's not just what I can or can't see that makes me like the harder surfaces. It also forces you to be ultra aware of your impact as you run. It's easy in grass, like it is in padded shoes, to just stomp your way along. As soon as I hit something harder, my body goes into ultra light mode, my steps go silent, my cadence goes up and everything just feels smoother. It's what I love about barefoot in general, the sense that I'm really responsive to the ground, not protected from it.

The folks at the race were great. From the Barefoot Running Society we had our chapter president Troy Root who was a serious trooper, pushing his kids through all that grass in a stroller. Way to go Troy! I met a guy named John who has made a shot at a 100 miler and stopped at 70. In my book that means he successfully ran a 70 mile ultra. Scot Hadley was there. He's the physical therapist I've written about who got me back on my feet when I had some injury trouble a few weeks back.

I got to meet Ken Bob Saxton and Jason Robillard who are both important to the barefoot/minimalist movement. They've both written books on the subject and are great resources to the community, as well as great guys. Jason has a blog that has been extremely helpful: Barefoot Running University. It's an excellent source of info and discussion.

Over all it was a great time, for the time spent with interesting and fun people, for the run itself and for the time with my family. I ran a pretty good time and kind of felt charged up about getting the Michigan chapter of the Barefoot Running Society more active. Malina, my daughter told me she can't wait for the next one. I can't either!

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