The Rapidian

Barefoot Racing Hits Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is one of seven cities to host a new barefoot 5k race event.
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Register and Learn More About Barefoot Running

Pre-registration is $20/$35 and race day is $25/40. Registration is online or a mail-in form is available at local Gazelle Sports stores.

Barefoot running coach Ken Bob Saxton will be providing a free clinic at Gazelle Sports on 28th Street on Saturday, August 27th from 3-4 p.m. He is one of the leading barefoot running instructors in the country.

Want to feel the earth move?

On Sunday, August 28 the Merrell Naked Foot 5k will hit Grand Rapids and barefoot runners will have the chance to bolt over grass and dirt and be one with Riverside Park.

The Merrell Naked Foot 5k series is new this year and the Grand Rapids race is one of seven that will be hosted across the country. Other races in the series will be held in Boulder, Austin, Nashville, Minneapolis, Highlands Ranch and Santa Barbara.

Participants are encouraged to run barefoot, but people with shoes are welcome to race.

Three races will take place: a free kid's run at 8:30 a.m., a one mile all-grass run at 8:40 and at 9 a.m. the 5k race on grass and pavement. Local race organizer Kerri Delacher helped bring the race to Grand Rapids. “I’m from Grand Rapids, but moved out to Denver after college where I met Scott Jones (the races series founder) while playing different adult sports recreational leagues. As the years went on, we ended up starting our own adult sports recreational league organization and ran several events and sports tournaments together. I moved back to Grand Rapids, but stayed in contact with Scott and his wife Lauren. When they decided to go national with this race, he called me up and asked me about starting a race here,” said Delacher.

Like any other organized race, the event is timed and awards will be issued. “We want to focus the event as a day full of fun activities for the entire family and to benefit a great charity. We want to get people outside being healthy and enjoying the idea of something new. Our motto is It’s not about the barefoot movement, it’s about the movement movement,” said Delacher.

Participants are encouraged to bring a pair of gently used running (or other) shoes for a shoe drive that is part of the race series. Shoes will go to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that distributes shoes to people in need worldwide.

In addition to the races, there will be free activities for families and participants including foot painting, foot massages and Tarahumara barefoot games. The Tarahumara people of Mexico are well known for their barefoot distance running.

“Barefoot running is on the increase. A lot of people are hesitant to try it, but I think as the years go on and people keep seeing and hearing about it, they will become more and more curious to try it. I wear a pair of the Merrell Pace Gloves (a minimalist shoe) and they are great! We've done a lot of promoting and so many people have stopped me to talk me about them or tell me how much they love the ones they have,” said Delacher, who has been barefoot running only recently but has 20 years of running and racing experience.

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Have you barefoot runners tried PaperFeet sandals? They are paper-thin  skin protection sandals made from recycled vinyl  billboard signs!

Ooooh. Far more stylish than FiveFingers, and way cheaper, too!