RACE REPORT: Buntekuh 5.3km Fun Run (22 June 2012)

Discussion in 'Front Page News' started by Footsie, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Footsie

    Footsie Barefooters
    1. Germany &...

    May 19, 2012
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    Finisher T-shirt and medal from the Buntekuh Fun Run
    Buntekuh 5.3km Fun Run
    By Footsie

    I was nervous leaving work late - would I make it in time for the race or not? I had all my stuff with me: not having to carry running shoes really makes packing for events much easier. Still, I was jittery and keept checking my watch every time the train got delayed.

    My new Invisible Shoes were making the soles of my feet sweat, which I noticed was softening the plantar skin - not good. I took them off on the train and hoped the walk to the race would dry them out in time.

    On arrival, the kid's 1.9km race was getting ready to start. I had 30 minutes to the gun. I got changed and warmed up.

    Rough going underfoot
    The ground was quite rough: the starting area was racetrack clay grit, the other paths were gravelly and edgy underfoot. I walked around as much as I could on it, then eased into my joint looseners (think you ChiRunning, they really help) and jogged up to operating temperature.

    Waiting for the gun is a lonely moment
    There were no other barefooters - no surprise but I suddenly felt very alone and out of place.
    I joined the racers in the pen.

    A race organizer came to me and, looking down at my feet, asked "you reckon that'll turn out well?"
    I answered "this is a Fun Run right? So this way it'll be fun."

    She was actually positive and supportive. We discussed the "massage" my feet were about to get (she clearly knew the course; I didn't). She was amused and clearly thought this Englander was mad.

    "Have you read 'Born to Run'?"
    Then another runner calls Matthias came and praised me and asked if I'd read Born To Run. He recommended it to me and the Chihuahua (sic) runners in it but said he couldn't run barefoot because of a leg length discrepancy - I listened sympathetically and didn't tell him about Michael Sandler.

    And they're off!
    The gun (really a big shout) went off and I swiftly found myself towards the back of the pack being drafted by an 80 year old woman.

    Matthias was easy to see pulling away in his yellow t shirt. I harboured visions of reeling him in but it never happened.

    The course started on a short stretch of clay grit track, but quickly turned off into the local park. Gritty dirt track gave way to fairly pleasant dirt track and then stretches of varied pavement. I'd never appreciated before just how different pavement can be. Some smooth, some rough, some warm, some cold, some large enough for a whole foot-plant, some small and awkward, like cobbles.

    There was only one road to cross, which we did twice on the loop. The police officer securing the main road crossing offered to put out an APB on whoever stole my shoes. He's a nice guy - I'd seen him around before and I like him even more now.

    After I guess 1.5k I started to feel some confidence growing that this was not all entirely stupid and dangerous, so I dropped the 80 year old and started reeling in the field. The looks on the wardens ranged from disbelief to positive respect (One or two said hut ab!, or hats off! in German) at my shoelessness.

    Whoa, we're halfway there/Whoa livin' on a prayer...
    Before I knew it we were at the 3km mark: I was pleasantly surprised at my footpace (roughly 6min/km pace) but then I started to realise I was only just halfway done and I had not run much past 3km barefoot before. Here was where tiredness started to affect form, leading to twinges that I had to manage early and carefully.

    The ankle, the right 4th metatarsal, the left calf …My marathon started at 3km.

    However, the good news was that by focusing on keeping up my cadence, lifting swiftly and relaxing whatever was starting to twinge, the warning signals faded each time.

    What didn't fade quite so quickly were the sudden stabs of pain when I hit a particularly unforgiving lump of gravel. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

    Racers race...
    Then, after dropping a good half-dozen other runners who were suffering from going out too hard, I suddenly saw the home straight. I couldn't believe it was over so quickly!

    I promised myself I wouldn't race it, but I couldn't help it: as we turned onto the clay track for the last 150 metres, a 12 year old girl tried to cut me on the inside. I couldn't have that so I put the hammer down and it was a race to the finish.

    I pulled away, churning like a steam engine. She dug deeper and pulled ahead by a nose. We were neck and neck...

    But then I realised how bad it probably looked, a grown man trying to out-race a juvenile and, discretion being the better part of ego, I dropped back.

    She had a hell of a kick though and in all honesty I think she would have dropped me anyway.

    To the victor, the spoils...
    So I crossed the line and got my medal, then sat down on the grass to survey the damage. I was pleasantly surprised.

    Apart from a scuffed 4th toe on my left foot, there was no visible damage and apart from weariness and sensitivity (to be expected I think) I didn't have any real pain and felt happy.

    A father with his sons asked - jokingly - If I'd run barefoot.
    "yes" I said.
    "the whole way?!" he asked, disbelievingly.
    "yes" I said.
    "no s***?!" he asked, slightly subdued, I like to think, with awe.
    "no" I said.
    "respect". He said.

    Then his son came over and asked me why I was doing it and what it was like. We spoke for a while about it and he went off thoughtful. Maybe he'll be a convert someday.

    Vene, vidi, vici
    Then I basked in my glory and made this short film:

    I placed 89th overall in a field of 150 so not drastically different from my shod performances. I reckon I was about 1min/km off my last official 10k split, which is fine for now I think. I have never been fast (my last 10k was unofficially about 48 minutes), so I was 6:30 -7:00 off that today, accounting for the extra 300m. Considering I took this as a glorified training run - until the home straight - I am happy with the result.

    After staying to see how fast the others in my age group had been (about 33% faster to be precise) I walked tenderly off to the bus stop.

    "Sir, your carriage awaits..."
    Germany were playing Greece in the European Cup that night (which had badly affected race numbers) so the bus driver, who was missing the game because of work duty, had decked out his bus in all manner of footie gear. There were flags out the window, flags on the dashboard, scarves hung all over his cabin. I felt like I was being driven home in the national team bus.

    A fitting end to my (barefoot) triumph, I thought.

    Original post can be read at: http://wp.me/p2nTtt-V

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