A few years ago, I was your typical office-worker: stressed out, uneven energy, overweight, and inconsistent complexion. Now I'm just your typical 28-year old urban hunter-gatherer on a quest to be healthy, and having a few adventures along the way. See my full bio.
It's time that the growing barefoot and minimalist running movement had an event of their own. Well, now we do. I am pleased to announce the 1st Annual New York City Barefoot Run on Sunday, October 10th. Go barefoot, wear minimalist shoes (VFFs, Terra Plana, FeelMax), or even wear your normal sneakers. The event will take place on beautiful Governors Island in New York Harbor, with stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, lower Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
As if that weren't enough, we have a stellar line-up of special guests:
Dan Lieberman, Harvard Professor and barefoot running researcher
Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat
Jason Robillard, author of The Barefoot Running Book
...plus all of your local hosts in Barefoot Runners NYC
It's not just a run and done. Come on Saturday, October 9th for clinics in the park, we're planning some events for Saturday night, and enjoy the day at Governors Island on Sunday.
Details here. We're limiting space at 500, so register today. Don't miss it -- the first time only happens once.
The New York Post and CBS local news picked up our Born to Run NYC event. See the two videos below, with the CBS article here. Good treatment -- and thank you to the reporters for taking the time to learn why we run the way we do. Though I have to say, CBS ends the piece by saying a possible benefit of barefoot running is...get this...burning more calories. So idiotic, all you can do is laugh. (Benefits of laughing: burning more calories.)
We had a blast. See my recap and photos. I've posted below the feedback that we received from people who ran the event -- pretty cool. We have a free beginner's session on Sunday at 4:30pm in Central Park.
“ Can't stop smiling about Wednesday, thanks again everyone. ”
“ Nothing but fun. Thanks to John and Maggie for organizing, Word book for hosting, the runners who volunteered to be sweepers, whoever thought to buy the Coors light, and, finally, Chris for writing the book that brought us together. ”
“ I had the best time ever! I'm still glowing over it. So much so that I had to get out there and run again tonight barefeet up the West Side Highway. I loved meeting so many wonderful people. I second on the Coors Light. ”
“ Had a great time. Well-organized and no one was left behind. It was great meeting other runners like me and I just loved being able to meet Chris, without whom, I wouldn't be running in the first place. ”
“ I haven't ran in a group in over a decade, to cadence as an Army infantryman, and this run was really interesting in how it was both similar and different to that kind of experience. There was the same powerful self-sustaining energy, but channeled in a different way. I look forward to joining the next human-millipede y'all organize! Thanks to everyone -- and I mean that literally -- for making this run what it was...and still is. ”
“ Congrats and well done to all the runners, and huge thanks to John and Maggie, organizers extraordinaire, and our tireless (literally) sweepers Chris and Melissa, and of course many many thanks to Christopher McDougall for being up for anything and turning a great run into an amazing one-of-a-kind experience, and so much fun! ”
“ simply perfect. Running with an army of my people, Barefoot savages!! You are all great!! ”
“ This was an amazing experience. Communal non-competitive running is a great joy! ”
“ John and Maggie, Thanks for organizing such a fun run with Christopher. The run had a great vibe, and I enjoyed chatting with so many nice folks. What's not to like about a run that ends with donuts? Even Christopher admitted that the Tarahumara would swap their Chia seeds for a Red-Velvet Cake Donut... I hope to be able to join in the next "event"
“ Very inspiring. Chris McDougall was very kind and gave full attention to each person who asked him a question or asked for his book to be signed. He is a true kind of "spiritual" leader of a movement that is very positive in running. The fact that he ran with everyone before the event deepened the experience of meeting an author, and produced a sense of connection that was better than other type meetings of authors. I liked that the event was non-competitive and welcoming to all. I like how powerful it was despite being simple. ”
“ This was, without a doubt, the most fun I have ever had running. Everyone was so friendly and supportive, and though most of us began the run complete strangers, I think it's safe to say that by the end we were a group of friends, bound by a love for running. My greatest thanks and respect to Chris, John, Maggie, and of course, Word Bookstore, for putting together such a fantastic event, however last-minute. Long live barefoot running! ”
“ Great run with great people. I had a blast. ”
“ WOW! What an awesome experience flowing through the streets and over the bridges of NYC with Chris and so many barefoot/near barefoot runners! Thanks John and Chris for making this happen! ”
“ Great group! Great run! Fantastic fun! Lets do it again SOON ”
“ this run was awesome! so much fun and cool to meet Chris. good job John and Maggie!! ”
“ Awesome run, great people. I had a blast and definitely want to find time to run with this group again. Thanks for putting this together! ”
“ What an awesome experience! Thank you John and Maggie for organizing an opportunity to come together in such an exhilarating and and satisfying way. My friend who I got to come the day of the event also had an awesome time and can't wait to do it again! Chris who was already an inspiration to me, was a beast on the streets, and so super nice and down to earth, It was an honor and a privilege to run with him. I talked to and ran with a few different people, and it was awesome, good people enjoying our bodies in space together. I also had some stretches running on my own, but I never felt like I was running alone. I always felt like a part of a tribe. It was a very cool feeling that I haven't really had since coming home to NYC. Thanks everyone for an awesome time and a great experience. I look forward to many more runs! ”
“ I only found out about your book this past Sunday and it was like reading some forgotten letter found in the attic or basement. It was pure serendipity that I then found out about this run, too! I haven't ran in a group in well over a decade -- almost two, now -- and it was so interesting just comparing this run with the many I did in the Army. There was the same sense of togetherness, though differently channeled, kind of like a male-female difference, so to speak. Then there was your talk, which was the first time I'd ever attended one by the author, and it was so great to have been able to be acquainted with you intellectually through the talk and on a much deeper level -- first -- through the run! Anyway, thank you for helping to bring out some of the best parts of myself by connecting me with a much greater whole, so to speak. My friend Amy, whom you helped encourage up a hill in Central Park, was equally affected by you. She also thanks you from the bottom of her heart! ”
“ Great Experience, beautifully prepared with stops and water and a scenic route to run. ”
“ Unbelievably perfect. Was without hitch--very impressive. Bravo to the organizers! Looking forward to the encore! ”
“ This was a great "First Event" for me, and it included running with many friendly people. I only feel badly that I didn't partake in the after-run party and lecture. ”
“ This was such an awesome time!! Great run everyone! ”
“ Great Event ”
“ Thanks John and Maggie for organizing. I had a great time meeting and talking with so many other runners. Chris is truly a class act and I'm sorry I couldn't stay for his talk. ”
“ It was really an awesome experience! It was great to meet Chris and connect with other barefoot runners. Hope to see all of you on future runs! ”
Wow, what an awesome event. I really want to thank Chris McDougall for making all this possible. Totally unreasonable to expect 60+ people to show up during the middle of a work day on one week's notice -- and for many people, they only heard about it yesterday. And yet, there we all were.
We gathered in Harlem. We did a few drills, chilled to some next level beats (African drummers), and talked tips and tricks. Everybody has a story. You can just say: "So, what's your story?" And they tell you. A injured knee, a new challenge, a fun time. So much appreciation.
Ran through Central Park, even picking up a few people along the way. This time, we were the big group. And people jogging by might momentarily feel as if they're the odd ones who are running experiments on their feet.
Swarming down 60th St., across a packed Park Avenue, with gawking drivers. Up the Queensboro and into Brooklyn. Definitely more debris on the sidewalk in Brooklyn -- pebbles and glass. Can someone sweep Brooklyn please?
Arriving at Word to water, watermelon, and donuts courtesy of Word Bookstore. Beers in the park. A packed book talk and signing. McDougall spreading the love.
Running should be fun. This was fun.
And a special announcement: Save the weekend of October 9th and 10th for the first annual New York City Barefoot Run. Details to come -- just lining up the last of our permits. Get excited, spread the word.
I AM SO PSYCHED FOR TOMORROW. We've got over 65 people on a Wednesday afternoon at 3pm with barely a week's notice. Tip of the iceberg, baby. Even if you're not running, below are some updates just to make you jealous.
But first, why are we running? Universal Sports picked up the event and interviewed Chris. See his explanation here.
- At 3pm, follow the sounds of the African drummers in the park. Yes, that's right -- our own little drum section to set the rhythm. They will be playing from 3pm to 4pm.
A race, a tough guy contest, or a trial by fiery sidewalk (although it’s supposed to be pretty stinking hot on Wednesday).
What it is:
A fun run. That, plus a celebration that the dismal days of being afraid of running are coming to an end. Fast, light-footed running has nothing to do with gimmicky shoes, as even Nike elite coach Alberto Salazar agrees. Learn to trust the equipment you were born with, and rediscover what a blast running can be.
What it lacks:
Rules. Of any kind. Run as far as you want, as slow or fast as you feel like. Start with us at Marcus Garvey Park, catch us along the way, or set a collision course from Brooklyn and double-back when we meet. Wear whatever you like, above the ankles or below. The goal is to encourage natural running, not demand it. If you feel like wearing running shoes, be my guest. Chances are I’ll sling on something myself, maybe socks or Fivefingers, if it’s as scorching as the forecast predicts.
So why Marcus Garvey Park?
Because it’s right around the corner from the Clinton Foundation. Bill Clinton has more influence on human health now than he did as President, and it’s impossible not to applaud a guy who pulls off moves likethis:
Two years ago, at Nelson Mandela’s 85th-birthday party—a 1,600-person extravaganza whose guest list included everyone from Bono to F. W. de Klerk—Clinton and Thabo Mbeki, the current president of South Africa, got up in the middle of the festivities, trailed by Magaziner. “They just . . . walked out,” recalls Richard Holbrooke, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. “And went into a private room.” They returned half an hour later. It was after that meeting that Mbeki, famously reluctant to even acknowledge that HIV caused AIDS, agreed to allow the Clinton Foundation to assist his government in preparing an AIDS-treatment plan. (It was adopted by the Cabinet the following November).
I was also struck bythe answer Clinton gave recentlywhen asked what he’d still like to accomplish before he dies. Summit Kilimanjaro, he said, see my grandkids and run a marathon. And there you have it, three of humankind’s healthiest instincts and the ones that constantly appear in tales of heroism and virtue: Live long. Climb high. And run far.
So when we set off on Wednesday afternoon, we’ll loop by Clinton headquarters to not only salute his achievements for others, but encourage him to get running and notch one for himself.
Word Bookstore announced that everyone who makes the run will be admitted to the reading that night for free, waiving the $25 charge. That’s right: your sweat-funk just acquired a dollar value, and for one day only, one store in New York will be shoes-optional. Live it up.
Ever see I Am Legend? Will Smith has New York City all to himself. Oh yeah, except for a few zombies. That was like our 5-mile run at 7am this morning.
A group of us did the Summer Fun Run up Park Avenue, which had been blocked off from the Financial District up to 72nd St. Totally surreal running in the street with no cars around. And when we approached Grand Central, it felt right out of the movie. Deserted streets, a silent city, no cars, and running up the ramp that approaches the imposing and impressive terminal, sitting there in the middle of the road, forcing the road to contort itself around it, and forcing you to look at it.
And the zombies? They were chasing us. Zombie joggers. Heaving, huffing and puffing, drooling, misshapen, angry, and hungry for human flesh bagels.
Read the best-selling book Born to Run? Want to go for a run with Christopher McDougall? And then shoot the breeze with him? Yes, of course you do. So mark down Wednesday, August 11th and arrange to get out of work a little early. This is going to be so much fun. Details below and at Barefoot NYC.
And spread the word.
Join Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run,” and John Durant, founder of Barefoot Runners NYC, in an epic barefoot run from Harlem to Brooklyn. Run barefoot, near-barefoot, or fully shod but barefoot curious. Rediscover the fun of running barefoot, and tap into the natural quickness and strength buried in your soles. We’ll party in the park before and after, and every step of the way. The full run is 8 miles, but feel free to join for any part of the run — see course map for meeting points. Chris will be giving a book talk at Word Bookstore, just near the finish, at 7:30pm. The cost is $25 (and includes the book), but there is no obligation for runners to attend.
Start: Marcus Garvey Park (NW corner at 124th and Mt. Morris Park) Time: Run begins at 4pm. Runners will begin gathering at 3pm. Route: Join us anywhere along the way. We’ll be entering Central Park at Malcom X and 110th. We’ll be running on East Drive all the way down through Central Park. We’ll be exiting Central Park at 60th St. and 5th Avenue. Then crossing the Queensboro Bridge to Brooklyn Finish: American Playground, near Word Bookstore at 126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn (Franklin and Milton) RSVP: To sign up for the run, please RSVP at Barefoot Runners NYC Media Inquiries: Please contact Christopher McDougall or John Durant
Below is the dictionary definition of "jog". You'll see why I don't like the term. It's a word that means to shake, jerk, nudge, push, or jolt. There is nothing fluid or gentle about it. Don't go jogging. You'll be jogging your knees, jogging your feet, jogging your head, jogging your ankles, jogging your body. Jogging is bad. Run, chase, pursue, walk, hunt, or stalk -- anything but jog.
The biggest misconception about barefoot running is that it's hardcore. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: it's not. Barefoot running is actually softcore. Soft. Gentle. Delicate. Light. Starting to sound less macho? I know, that's why I almost kept this to myself.
Jogging is a contact sport. Hit the road, hit the pavement, pound the pavement, pound out a few miles. Ever listen to most runners? Thud, thud, thud, thud. Injuries galore. Knee problems, shin splints, orthotics, plantar faciitis. Remind me -- what is so easy and painless about jogging? Sounds pretty hardcore to me.
If jogging is for the strong, barefoot running is for us wimps and cripples. For people who have no choice but to run softly. To minimize pain...and effort. To glide over the ground. To run, not jog. To move silently, stalk, and pursue. To minimize impact and maximize efficiency. Sounds pretty soft and weak.
The media always gets this wrong. Every time a reporter wants to talk about barefoot running, it's always, "Wow, you must be sooooo tough." As a 27-year-old male with healthy testosterone levels, it's hard not to play into this. And I'll admit that I get a kick out of the exclamations and attention when I'm running in Central Park. Girls always notice. 20% of the time they think it's gross, 80% of the time they starting throwing their sports bras.
An older lady stopped me on the way back from a run last week. 60-something years old -- and well, let's just say she didn't look like the athletic type. She told me she had been running barefoot on the indoor track for a year now and loved it.
And that's exactly what concerns me -- if all the out-of-shape seniors all start running barefoot, then the gig is up. No more babes, no more sweaty sports bras. Can we keep this just between us?
Harvard Professor Dan Lieberman just joined Barefoot Runners NYC for a morning run in Central Park. We did a little over 3 miles before I had to split. He's recently back from Kenya, the land of barefoot runners, where he is preparing for an ambitious study on running injuries. Very cool.
Amazing, though, how few companies and institutions are interested in funding his work. I can't think of a more practical area of study, with direct implications for tens of millions of running Americans. Professor Lieberman also observed how psychologically wedded we are to our fancy modern running shoes -- even though they're only a few decades old.
Hey folks, the Today Show segment aired this morning. See the clip below. Thanks to everyone at Barefoot Runners NYC who participated. Fun shoot.
The segment was properly skeptical of toner shoes, but no one quite knew what to think about minimalist shoes. You'd think that in a country rampant with flat feet and foot problems, people might be a bit more skeptical of the conventional wisdom on running shoes and healthy feet. It's always more, more, more (more inserts, more motion control, more technology, more expensive, more surgery) rather than less, less, less (less cushioning, less impact, less injury). Time to go back to basics.
But where you do you get your arch support??? Answer: from my arches. (Hat tip to barefoot ultra runner Jason Robillard for that response.)
"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." - Leonardo Da Vinci