Ben bares those toes on a training run when visiting our project in Uganda.
Would you fancy running across all terrains with no shoes on? Not many people are likely to try it, but our Head of UK, Ben Wilkes is all set for a the challenge when he runs barefoot in this year’s Chichester Half Marathon on October 13th.
Here at Children on the Edge we are organising the Chichester Half in conjunction with Chichester District Council. The event is in its second year after a highly successful revival last October.
Entrants for this year’s race have been pouring in since registration opened in April. As far as we know, Ben is the only entrant running barefoot, but he’d like to see that change:
“Running barefoot ‘style’ has helped me run quicker and without my old injuries flaring up” Ben explains. “The minimalist shoes out there are good, but the real exhilarating experience is when you take them off and just run. Will I be the first person to run the Chi half barefoot? I hope not. I hope on Oct 13th there are a few of us lining up and if that happens, I’m sure I wont be the first one to finish!”.
Barefoot or ‘natural’ running is a rarity, however it did became more prominent over 50 years ago when Ethiopian Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Olympic marathon in Rome, with no shoes on, after realising that the Olympic shoe supplier had run out of shoes in his size! A few years later British Bruce Tulloh won the European gold medal and most famous was Zola Budd who raced and trained barefoot with a good degree of success in the 80s.
More recently barefoot running has been on the rise with the production of thin-soled shoes or ‘Five Fingers’ for ‘minimalist running’ and with the popularity of Christopher McDougall’s bestseller ‘Born to run’ which promotes the benefits of ditching your running shoes and going back to how you are naturally made to run.
Ben has received so much interest in this running method that he’s started a blog about his training progress.
“I think Running barefoot round Chichester has lowered people’s gaze rather than raised eyebrows. As soon as they see me coming and realise I’m not wearing shoes, their eyes seem to fix on my feet. When chatting to people about barefoot running, the same questions often come up. The most common is ‘what about all the dog poo and broken glass?’. My response: I step over it when wearing shoes and running barefoot doesn’t change that!”
You can follow Ben’s blog at www.chihalf.co.uk/barefoot-blog but more importantly, you can still sign up for the Chichester Half (you don’t have to run it barefoot!). Simply go to www.chihalf.co.uk.
It’s a beautiful route which includes a mixture of road, cross country and cycle path terrain and the event raises vital funds for all our projects, which work to restore the ingredients of a full childhood to some of the world’s most forgotten children.