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Boise Barefoot Race Full of Sweet Surprises

I really should have asked if I could introduce myself to everyone at the race. It was a relatively small turnout, but with a lot more bare feet than I expected to see. Being the President of the Idaho Chapter of the Barefoot Runners Society (BRS), I should have made myself more of a resource in a public way. As it was, I did try to go around and meet people and tell them about the BRS. It would have been better if I had spoken in front of everyone. At least my blog logo was on the back of the race t-shirt, so there is a chance of connecting with people that way. Live and learn. (If you are in the photo and I didn’t identify you, please chime in in the comments. I can add your name to the photo. Click on any photo to enlarge.)

All the bare feet that ran at least part of the race unshod. Hankgooch is #12, to his left (your right) is Slim one of the newest members of the BRS, I am in the tie-dye tank, and speedy Natalie is in the turquoise to my right (left from your view point).

All the bare feet that ran at least part of the race unshod. Hankgooch is #12, to his left (your right) is Slim one of the newest members of the BRS, I am in the tie-dye tank, and speedy Natalie is in the turquoise to my right (left from your view point).

It was hard to tell at the beginning of the race who was going to run with bare feet part of the way. I think I saw more bare feet at the end of the race for the group photo than I had seen wandering around at the start. There was at least one shoe drop-off point for each race distance (5K and 10K), but with a sign-up of only 30 people, and not too many volunteers, more could not be provided.

I only know of 5 people who ran the whole race barefoot. I managed to talk to 4 of them. I saw a few pairs of Vibrams, a couple of other types of minimalist shoes (New Balance somethings), and some Luna sandals. There were “normal” boat anchor shoes on some people, but some of them are transitioning to barefoot running and crossed the finish line bare. It was good to hear that they were being cautious about adjusting!

barefoot friends

barefoot friends

One of the Luna wearers was my BRS friend, PB Junkie, who I met in person for the first time at this race. She was able to give me a lot of insight into her minimalist shoe history. It was nice to actually see the sandals on real feet, right in front of me. Since she wears minimalist footwear for nearly all her running (except I hear she goes barefoot in her office…), she has a lot of hours in the types of footwear she has tried. Most of her running is on rough terrain in the low light of early morning. As happy as I am with my Moc3′s, I am definitely interested in something like a Luna sandal now. The thought of the top of the foot being in open air sounds lovely! One of the most interesting things I learned was that sole thickness does not always indicate best ground feel and flexibility.

The race route was all on asphalt greenbelt paths along the Boise River. Nothing was blocked off for our group, but with the low number of participants we just melded into the usual Saturday biking, running, and… weddings. Yep, we ran right through a wedding. The running path was 90% velvety asphalt, to me, with only a tiny section of small cobblestone paving, some cement sidewalks, and limited sections of wooden bridge. It was “easy” to run barefoot on, but not the type of surface that helps a barefoot runner develop optimal form.

As for the race, let me break it into distances and speeds.

The 5K Distance:

Our BRS friend, hankgooch, ran his longest barefoot distance to date, going all the way with bare feet and taking first place in the 5K. Maybe I can get him to comment about his times. The race being so low budget, there were not timing chips. There was a clock at the finish line, if runners could remember to look at it. It will be of interest to some that hankgooch is using Dr. Maffetone’s method of training (The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness). After years of hurting himself (he is a PE teacher), he decided to both go barefoot and slow down while he works on barefoot form and building up his aerobic base. This is something I am just beginning to try also, so I’m sure I will write more about it another day.

I believe the lady who won the 5K distance started with shoes, but finished with bare feet. She looked happy with her effort when she received her award.

The 10K Distance:

When my Garmin told me the distance was 5.5 miles, instead of the 6.2, we had to come home and measure it on google earth. That was just too much of a discrepancy for a family that likes to talk about pace after the race. It appears my Garmin was accurate this time.

The first place finisher was unofficial, in that she didn’t sign up for the race, but ran the course for her Saturday morning tempo run. I know this because she is one of my daughters. She smoked everyone with a 6:30 minute:second per mile (mm) pace. If anyone tells you barefoot runners are always slower, they don’t know what they are talking about. (How Fast Can You Run Barefoot) After she was done, she ran another 2 miles to cool down, coming down the path to tell me I was almost done.  :-)

My husband held the strange honor of being officially first place with a 7:15 mm mile pace (behind our daughter), but was wearing semi-minimalsit shoes. Around our house, we are very specific in our evaluation of footwear. No one calls anything a “barefoot” shoe, and all the different characteristics of shoes are graded. His shoes were pretty old, flat running shoes, but not with much of a toe box and not very flexible soles. However, I concede that not only is he not up to running that distance totally barefoot, but that it was wise for him to wear shoes the entire time. That’s kind of a complicated story, but if you read about his recent miscalculation about hot pavement you will understand why he kept his shoes on the whole way.

I entered this race with no other goal other than to meet people and have a good time. I have had a pretty intense summer of training and slowed things down quite a bit after my sprint triathlon in August. I picked a nice easy Maffetonesque pace and fell into my usual last place position compared to the rest of my family. Within about a mile, I ended up chatting with hankgooch’s wife while she ran along side. This is the first I have met her and she is not on the BRS forum. She has run barefoot some, but is not up to this mileage, so was in shoes. She looked for a shoe station, but there wasn’t one close enough to the finish for her.

She helped me keep track of sidewalk chalk marks. We played leap frog with another group from the race that was mostly shod. We talked about how slow we were running, and many other things about running (strollers, running partners, weather, shoes), as well as other miscellaneous subjects that came up. You can cover a lot in 5 miles!

Then, she pointed out to me the people waving at us from the finish line. I would have kept going up the greenbelt instead of turning. I knew we were right there, but with the Garmin at 5.5, there not being an arrow there, and a confused recollection of the race route, I was going to keep going. We made a show of it, holding hands as we crossed the finish line. It was grand and we began to join the runners comparing their race experiences.

Barefoot Boise crossing the finish line with my new friend

Barefoot Boise crossing the finish line with my new friend

When it was time for awards, we were both surprised to find out we had been the first women to finish the 10K! (Other than my non-official daughter, of course). We laughingly split the contents of the race awards packet. I “graciously” gave her the coupon for the shoe store, but I do hear they carry some minimalist shoes. It was humorously satisfying to know I had kept myself to an easy 9:50 mm pace and STILL accidentally won.

accidental winners

accidental winners

So, in a manner of speaking, Team Blodgett swept the field of the Barefoot Boise Race, two of us being totally barefoot the whole time and the “other person” running with pretty decent form and some limited barefoot running history. The best part is that, back in the car, our 19 year old told us we are fun to hang out with! Yeah, wherever we go, that’s where the party is.

Everyone on Team Blodgett was barefoot after the race.

Everyone on Team Blodgett was barefoot after the race.


  • PB Junkie

    Great report, Laura! I really enjoyed meeting you and your family members. It was a fun race and I look forward to next year’s. Who knows, I may even run skin to ground, you never know.

  • lauraimprovises

    :-) It was very fun to meet you!

    Greg and I were just talking about signing up for Zeitgeist in November. We are going to go explore the course for barefoot potential. The website has one of the best maps for a course I’ve seen, plus Greg has run it before.

  • hankgooch

    Thanks Laura for a great recap of the race! I had a lot of fun and nice to see other people running barefoot, makes me feel like less of an outcast! Look forward to next year! -hankgooch

  • lauraimprovises

    Yes, the camaraderie was very nice -

  • Chandler Prohl

    Thanks for coming out! Sorry about the confusion on the course it will be better next year!:) and ill send out an email to all the participants telling them about BRS and maybe we can get a few of them to show up on that barefoot day in may!!

  • lauraimprovises

    It was a fun morning. We’ll look forward to next year.

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