Many first came to know "Barefoot Ted" in Christopher McDougall's incredible eye-opening, jaw-dropping book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Amongst the zillion things he has done, Ted ran with the Tarahumara and a handful of the worlds best known, super-elite, trail runners, including Scott Jurek, in the unforgiving, wild, and harsh terrain of the Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyons) in Northwest Mexico's Sierra Madre. You can read about this in the book - guaranteed to give you a rush! This past August, Ted ran the Leadville Trail 100 - a hundred miles, in twenty-five hours and fifty-five minutes, on rugged trails at elevations of 10,000 feet plus, high in the Colorado Rockies. And Ted skateboards too: last year he set a world record in Ultraskate IV in Seattle by skateboarding an impossible-to-fathom 242 miles in 24 hours. Oh yeah, did I mention that he did all this, barefoot.
Barefoot Ted is as close to a guru ("one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others") as anyone I have ever met - and sheesh, that's the vocation (sort of) I'm supposed to be in! His eyes sparkle, his words are passionate and filled with the contagious energy that only comes when one speaks of that which gives great joy. Ted's a super-athlete but clearly loves to share his hard earned knowledge with neophytes so that they too may experience the liberation that comes from a fresh and outrageously obvious (in retrospect) paradigm in the sport of trail and road running.
So what was a middle-aged, wannabe barefoot-running couple like us doing with Ted. Well, 'cause we're pretty convinced that this whole matter of barefoot running is tantamount to the discovery that the earth is round (yup, a lot of disbelievers then too). I've already blogged Born to Run (and the mid-foot landing) and the awakening that came to Christopher McDougall as he investigated the nature and evolutionary journey humankind has taken. McDougall's conclusion? We were, physiologically, born to run. So why do so many folks dislike running? Because it hurts. Why does it hurt and so frequently cause injuries? Because we don't run the way nature intended us to run. How, then, did nature intend us to run? Barefooted, or at the very least, with minimalist footwear - that means NO cushioning, NO support, and NO stability control. Yikes!