My interview with Zola Budd By TJ

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by Barefoot TJ, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    zola2a.jpg
    My interview with Zola Budd
    By TJ

    I was excited to learn that the local ultra club, the Darkside Running Club, would be having a real barefoot running icon competing in their Peachtree City 25K/50K, and I would have the opportunity to meet her! I couldn't believe it! Zola Budd Pieterse would be running in the 25K just minutes from my home! Of course, I would be volunteering to assist in anyway possible!

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    Many of you know who Zola is. She is a world-class Olympic runner who has set many world records in middle-distance running and then broken them. She first broke the 5,000 meter record with a time of 15:01.83 when she was only 17 years old and then broke that record once again the next year with a finishing time of 14:48.07. Prior to that, she completed her first competitive race on a cinder track covering 3,000 meters in 9 minutes, 2.6 seconds. She won the UK Championships 1,500 meters in 4 minutes, 4 seconds and the 3,000 meters in the UK Olympic trials in 8 minutes, 40 seconds, which placed her on the British Olympic team. She then set a new world record in the 2,000 meters at 5 minutes, 33.15 seconds.[1] Did I mention she accomplished all this with bare feet? Does this prove to the naysayers that records can be set and broken in bare feet? I think so. We just need more Zolas. ;-)

    She went on to compete in the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics in the 3,000 meters event, to which the only comment I have to that is, that event's unfolding does not define this runner; her passion, gift, and diligence to her sport do. Besides, for those of you keeping track, Mary Decker admitted many years later, "The reason I fell, some people think she tripped me deliberately. I happen to know that wasn't the case at all. The reason I fell is because I am and was very inexperienced in running in a pack." The International Amateur Athletic Federation even ruled that Zola was not responsible for the collision.[1]

    The morning of the event, I directed cars and wondered which car held Zola. It was dark, and I was wearing my husband's neon yellow, reflective jacket with red running lights. Just as light broke, I saw her walk across the street to where everyone was gathering for the beginning of the race. I excused myself from my duties to catch up to her. (The other two guys parking cars knew that was coming. Ha!) I grabbed my Barefoot Runners Society's T-shirt, my black marker, and camera, ran up to her, and introduced myself to her. We had already communicated via Facebook when I interviewed her with questions posed by the BRS members, yet still, I must have seemed like a giddy, little groupie to her, but trust me, I was not!

    Zola was a real sweetheart. She spoke very softly, smiled a great deal, and made me feel very welcome to be in her presence. We spoke briefly about our children (she is the mother of a 16 year old and twin 13 year olds), my running this same course barefoot two years earlier, and the BRS, of which she said she had visited our site and commented, "Fun." She asked me if the course was hilly, and I assured her it had one but nothing she couldn't handle. We took some pictures, she signed my shirt, I thanked her for her time, and we parted.

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    Prior to Zola being introduced to the group, I heard some whispers of, "Is that Zola Budd?" coming from the crowd. There was a buzz among all the runners when my friend, Scott Ludwig, Badwater finisher, President of the Darkside Running Club, and the event's race director introduced her. They applauded her as they learned they would be running with a true legend.

    As I was parking cars, it was 45 degrees F. Later, by the second loop of the race, I heard the temp had fallen 8 degrees to 37. Yikes! I wouldn't be running this one but sitting there shivering. It was all very well worth it though.

    As the race began, I took my seat to start counting laps. Of course, Zola was one of my runners, so it was fun to see her run and record her splits. She not only "felt" fast, but she "looked" fast. Each time I watched her approach the lap clock, there was no other runners around. She completed the first 5.18 mile loop in 34:12, the second by 111:14, and finished with a time of 1:47:06, eight full minutes ahead of the next runner, who also happened to be a female and not a bad place to be in. Zola placed first overall.

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    After giving Zola a little background about myself and the Barefoot Runners Society in our pre-meeting interview, I wrote to her:


    Dear Zola,

    I asked our members if they had any questions they would like to ask you, knowing they would be excited to hear from you.

    More so than questions, they resoundingly wanted you to know that they find you to be a true inspiration to them. They remember you as a graceful, beautiful runner, and a positive influence, a champion who ran fast and accomplished much barefoot.

    As a testament to you, many of us have been called "Zola" while out running barefoot in public and at races. Even the guys get called Zola! It's always a warm greeting and feeling from the spectators and other runners to acknowledge your accomplishments through our running barefoot.

    It would be an honor for us if you would share a moment to answer some questions from our members.

    What was it like to grow up in South Africa?

    I grew up very protected and we did not have any tv or any other electronic stuff like the kids have now. So we played outside most of the time. We grew up on a small farm so we had loads of space and lots of animals. I was a real tomboy!

    In South Africa, what does the terrain feel like under bare feet? Was it difficult, rough, hard, soft...?

    I always trained with shoes on the road and only ran barefoot on the grass and the track. We did most of our training on a grass track and cross country courses.

    At what time in your life, age, did you find a love for running? How old were you when you picked up running?

    I am really bad at anything else, so running was natural, and I could beat my cousins growing up. So I just enjoyed running from the start but only started training every day when I turned 14.

    Had you always run barefoot, or did you start out running in shoes?

    I started running barefoot and only got my first pair of running shoes after my first track season!

    Do you ever run barefoot now? If not, would you consider it, at least part-time?

    I still try to run barefoot even today at my age, during training.

    Did you find it tough transitioning to running in shoes from barefoot?

    My running style was affected by training in shoes.....and I got severe plantar fasciitis.

    Do you believe your running barefoot in the past has had a positive influence on your running form? If so, in what ways? Do you think your running style changed, perhaps from a fore-mid foot landing to a heel-strike, or do you still run mid-foot?

    I still have a midfoot strike.

    As part of healthy living habits, do your kids live/run around barefoot?

    I encourage my kids to go barefoot as much as possible. I am appalled by the US school system who doesn't allow any barefoot sport. In SA all sport at primary school is done barefoot and kids go to school barefoot as well. It is scientifically accepted worldwide not to put your kids in shoes but keep them barefoot for as long as possible. It is just the US that is different!!!!

    Do you recommend runners incorporate barefoot running into their training?

    I do encourage people to run and train barefoot, but they have to approach it very conservatively. If you are not used to running barefoot, you can seriously injure yourself by starting out too fast. I suggest doing your warm down and warm up barefoot and gradually progressing from there. I never ran barefoot on the road and will not recommend it to anyone because of the danger of bruising your heels and other factors such as glass, rocks etc.

    Thank you, Zola! It was a true honor! -TJ


    This IS a MUST SEE video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3JDiSq41HA&feature=related[/video]

    Zola's first televised race on British soil, and her first recognized record, the British and Commonwealth women's junior 1500m. She beats the previous record by 9 seconds. Pay attention...she only needed an opening.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zola_Budd
     
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  2. Barefoot Dama

    Barefoot Dama Barefooters
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    "

    As part of healthy living habits, do your kids live/run around barefoot?

    I encourage my kids to go barefoot as much as possible. I am appalled by the US school system who doesn’t allow any barefoot sport. In SA all sport at primary school is done barefoot and kids go to school barefoot as well. It is scientifically accepted worldwide not to put your kids in shoes but keep them barefoot for as long as possible. It is just the US that is different!!!!"



    I am truly surprise by this answer, I didn't know some countries do this.

    She says that the US is different, maybe the entire continent is different because even in Mexico shoes are required to attend school or go every where else.

    I must said I am alittle disappointed about her believes that running on roads is dangerours, oh well, nobody is perfect.

    Great interview TJ, thank you!
     

  3. pbarker

    pbarker Barefooters
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    Great interview!

    She still runs barefoot, good to hear.

    I had read somewhere that she stopped running barefoot but apparently not. :)
     
  4. pilotrunner

    pilotrunner Barefooters
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    ...For the great interview.

    Cheers.
     

  5. Paleo

    Paleo Barefooters
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    Yes, the official recommendation of the Robert Koch Institut, Germany's equivalent to the American Medical Association, is that children should go barefoot as much as possible until the age of 5.
     
  6. Barefooting Bob

    Barefooting Bob Chapter Presidents
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    Great job TJ, I would of been one nervous interviewer if that was me, its great to see a little bit of inside the legend with Zola.
     
  7. findingflow

    findingflow Barefooters
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    How did you get in touch with her? That's amazing! Kinda wish you'd raced and beaten her in a sprint down the home stretch, just to show that birthday shoes are best after all.

    Well done, TJ. Way to promote the BRS.

    -unshod ashish
     
  8. Joshh

    Joshh Barefooters
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    TJ why would you delete my comment? I don't get it?
     
  9. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    What comment? I didn't delete anything! Maybe it didn't save, or maybe one of the other mods removed it. What did you say?-TJ
     
  10. Joshh

    Joshh Barefooters
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    Good, I'm glad. It's not important. After acknowledging her grace and legend I took issue with her alarmist view about running on the road and wondered if I was the only one to have been surprised by that. I see in the posts that I wasn't.
     
  11. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    I had trouble with that part of the interview too but decided to leave her answer in the interview "as is" to show we are being honest here at the BRS and show I wasn't trying to skew the interview. I disagree with her statement too, but that's her opinion, and she's entitled to it. I did, however, tell her I had run the same course barefoot two years earlier, as I mentioned in the article. -TJ
     
  12. Joshh

    Joshh Barefooters
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    Very good then :D. Nice work!
     

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