Another bank holiday, another camping trip!
We arrived early at the campsite near Dursley on a sunny Saturday morning, and even before I stepped out of the car I removed my shoes. I had two reasons for this; one, I wanted to spend as much time barefoot as possible, and two, the grass was really wet and I wanted my shoes (vivobarefoot evo IIs) to stay dry!
Unfortunately, as soon as the sun started burning off the morning dew, some heavy showers accompanied by lightning and thunder kept the field wet, bordering on waterlogged. The first shower caught my evo’s by surprise while they were sunbathing outside the tent, and they ended up as soaked as the field.
Luckily the second day was glorious, with the sun shining as two friends and I set off on a morning run. One friend is transitioning to minimalist running in merrell trail gloves so took it easy and hung back. The other friend is a three time Ironman, and completed his first 6 hour ultra trail run a few weeks ago. He also wears vivobarefoot shoes full time. He had roughly mapped out a 10-ish mile route possibly incorporating some trails depending on their condition.
I decided to start off barefoot and see what lay ahead on uncharted terrain, so carried my trusty fivefingers. I was a little apprehensive as my soles had spent the previous day on wet grass and I wasn’t sure how much this could have softened them.
The route turned out to be a mixture of smooth and rough road, long grassy footpaths, wet and muddy wooded hilly trails with both roots and rocks, and dry stoney paths including half buried rocks. In other words, way more complex than I have ever run before. But my feet coped superbly with every type of surface we covered. Even the 7:17 min / mile pace for the last couple of road miles felt good. I did pop the fivefingers on for about a mile of wooded descent, but this turned out to be too steep to run anyway. I remember thinking “This would be barefootable” while I clung to a tree to stop myself sliding tens of metres down the slope!
This was also the first time I have run barefoot with another runner, and it didn’t feel awkward at all. I’m not sure if this was because he is a minimalist runner, or because I’ve known him nearly ten years. Whatever it was, it gave me the confidence to remove my shoes and run barefoot with twenty or so other runners from the running club on Tuesday nights hill session. And none of those are minimalist runners and I hardly know most of them!