Seven years ago I began integrating some barefoot training into my running practice in order to improve my form, thinking this might reduce the risk of injury, as Chris MacDougal suggested in his bestseller Born to Run. Initially this was an experiment. But it has morphed into a journey, and every so often I pause to reflect.
A year and a half ago, I reported on my 5,000th mile of barefoot running, hiking, and walking. Last summer I reached the 6,000th mile somewhere on the John Muir Trail. In March of this year, I passed mile 7,000 and as I write this, I’m at 7,108, having just completed my 6th barefoot race of marathon distance or longer. Along the way, barefoot has gone from experiment, to training technique, to my preferred way to run and hike, and now’s it become a part of my philosophy.
I’ll start by reporting on accomplishments in the eighteen months and 2,000 miles since my last report, and then I’ll share the failures.
Continue reading “7,000 Miles Barefoot”
I’d been looking forward to the Grasslands Trail Run for more than a year. Late March weather in Texas would be a break from New York’s lingering winter, and the course follows gorgeous sandy trails – for a barefoot runner like me, this would be a real treat.
The race was three months off, but here I was stuck in New York for the winter, and heavy snow was falling — conditions not conducive to barefoot running. This raised an interesting question — how would I prepare for the race? Continue reading “Getting Ready for the Grasslands”
With the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country, it was no surprise that the races I’d signed up for were all canceled. However, one of the organizers offered up a “virtual” option, allowing you to run the distance you’d signed up for, in whatever location you happened to be, within a few weeks of the event date. At first I dismissed this as a pointless exercise. But after a week of sheltering at home, I was eager to get outside and cover some miles. So I picked Saturday morning to execute the virtual option, deciding to run my marathon at a local university track.
Continue reading “A Virtual Marathon”
By way of background, I’d registered for this race a year ago, curious about the trail, only to find out a few weeks later that it was canceled. Evidently the Knob Hills Trail is maintained by mountain-bikers, and when conditions turn muddy, they close the trails to prevent erosion. The race was rescheduled to January 18, 2020, and my prior registration rolled over automatically.
For barefoot runners, the nature of the trail matters for the obvious reason that smooth dirt or sharp-edged rocks have different implications for speed and thus goals and strategy. Since this race would take place on the northwestern shore of Grapevine Lake, I imagined a mix of sand and dirt with some crumbled limestone strata, which is what I’d experienced on the lake’s southeastern shore, where I’d participated in the Rockledge Rumble…. Continue reading “Knob Hills Trail Race”
In December 2018, I’d run the BMW Dallas 1/2 marathon without shoes. A year later, it was time to take on the full distance, which if successful would be my first barefoot marathon….
Continue reading “BMW Dallas Marathon”
In the last few weeks a little bit of chaos has been spreading through my life, or so it seems (maybe it was always there). I attribute the chaos to excessive business travel, but some amount of disorder is inescapable, whether in daily life or in ultramarathons for that matter. Here’s my account of the Rockledge Rumble 50k ultramarathon, a recent race along the Northshore Trail in Grapevine, Texas, together with the travel, logistics, planning and other headaches that led up to and spilled into race day, and how I tried to manage them….
Continue reading “Managing Chaos at the Rockledge Rumble 50k”
A few notes from the Batona Trail Races 33-miler, October 12, 2019, which was notable for being the first ultramarathon I’ve run without shoes…
Continue reading “Batona Trail Races 33-miler”
The sixth edition of the SRT Run is now in the books. The event celebrates the values of self-reliance and endurance, and we congratulate every finisher… Continue reading “2019 SRT Run Race Director’s Report”
This is a guest post by Jessica Velez who participated in the 70-mile division of the 2019 SRT Run. I was at checkpoint #5 when she arrived with only a few minutes to spare, and based on her pace at that point I didn’t think she would make it to checkpoint #6, but she did, this time only seconds before the cut-off, strained, blistered, and sopping wet. Given the risks associated with rain, darkness, and cooling temperatures I offered her the option to drop here and get a ride to the finish, but she barely acknowledged me, instead got to work replacing the batteries in her headlamp, and then headed off into the dark, wet forests for the final 6-mile stretch, arriving at the finish in 29 hours and 49 seconds, and along the way demonstrating the values of determination, self-reliance, and endurance that we seek to celebrate with this event. — Ken.
Why did I do it? It wasn’t for fun, I wish I had the level of fitness where 70 miles would be fun. When I run marathons- they are fun, I socialize, take in the views, people watch- I actually have a lot of fun with marathons. I signed up for a 70, because as I finished my 50 miler at Rock the Ridge in 2017- I felt like I could have done more. I wanted to challenge myself and see if my body was capable of the “more”. Why did I choose the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) race specifically? Simply because it was local and scenic and priced extremely reasonable.
Continue reading “Jessica Velez: Reflections on my 70-miler”
Note: Ben Leese won the 70-mile division of the 2019 SRT Run with a new course record of 16:28:16, eclipsing the prior record by almost two hours. More info on the race at www.srtrun.com
Ben’s 2018 SRT race report here
Shawangunk Ridge 70 miler
Last year was my first attempt at the SRT and my first attempt at running anything longer than a marathon. After missing my goals at a succession of road races over the preceding couple of years I was thrilled to achieve my main objective of grinding out a finish. But the experience was brutal. The distance was of course a big part of that, but I’d made a number of rookie errors as well and as soon as the chafing had healed and the toenails had regrown I began to think about ways to improve in 2019.
Continue reading “Ben Leese’s 2019 SRT Race Report”