"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair". - Kahlil Gibran
Why would I want to run a race barefoot? Not sure. But it's on the bucket list, so that's good enough for me. I figure there are enough items on there that I have spent years mulling over, so a couple of random ones just balance the heavy ones out.
And yes, I did get out on a trail once, completely barefoot. And ran. Kind of.
So, when it came to actually running the race, I decided that barefoot STYLE of running would have to do.
I have worn Luna sandals quite extensively already, and even took them for a jog on a beach in Costa Rica. (Or was it Nicaragua? I remember the beach, but for the life of me, cannot remember the country).
Notice the indentations in the surface of the sandal? Those are made by your feet over time - just like the ass indentation on your favorite couch. :) For my "barefoot running" experience, I was looking for a short distance trail race, preferably with mostly non-technical terrain, as I was not sure how the sandals would hold up. The most recent 5 Peaks Trail Race met the criteria nicely - 6.7km on well packed double track trail. The terrain was a mix of packed soil, grass and gravel. The reactions from fellow runners have been interesting. Many did a double take, noticing my feet. A couple wondered if I forgot my shoes. An older woman approached me after the race, pointing at my sandals accusingly, and asked: "Don't your feet hurt now?". Umm, no. Do yours? A word of caution... Please do not just randomly throw on a pair of Lunas (or any other minimalist footwear), and head out for a run (or a race). It may seem this is exactly what I have done, however, I have been experimenting with different shoes for years, and shifting to less support very slowly. My first pair of running shoes (that I specifically bought for running) was the most supportive model that Saucony made at the time.
I could definitely feel some of the sharper gravel under my feet. If the terrain was mostly gravel, I think I'd opt out for a more aggressive sole (like Leadville).
Running downhill, I found myself being a bit more careful, not sure if my toes would slide forward and catch the ground, but that did not happen.
Running uphill resulted in a lovely springy stride - think running up the stairs. The uphill slog where you drag your feet is practically impossible wearing these, so you are either hopping up, or you are walking.
I was wondering how the sandals would hold up if they got wet, thinking that the surface may get slippery - having run some dewed grass, once again this concern did not materialize. I can also see how having so little on your feet can be beneficial with multiple water crossings, however, I'd be a bit worried if the crossings were rocky, rather than sandy.
I found the sandal to be a bit uncomfortable where the strap pushed against the skin between my toes. However, the pair that I have is also a tad too small - and this may indeed be the problem, according to experienced runners. There are also a number of adjustments that I can do on the straps, so I am looking forward to playing around with those.