Category: Barefoot Races

Mar 30

Run for the Animal Half marathon – Barefoot Review



This is a review of the Run for the Animals Half marathon by our group member Barefoot Runner.

The HM is a lollipop course with an ~3 mile stem and an ~7 mile loop. The 10K is simply out and back on the stem. The course is basically about 50% smooth blacktop (Easy) and 50% chip seal (Moderate). An experienced barefooter should have no concerns with the course, but a beginner might have to slow down on the chip seal especially if a section is newly gravelled or if the soles start getting sensitive towards the end. So overall, I’d rate this course a BB (Moderate) for its barefoot sole friendliness.

On the loop portion, there are a couple long curved banked sections about which some shod runners have complained as too hard on the ankles. There’s also a quarter mile section on the 6-foot wide chip seal shoulder of a 2-lane highway which could have broken glass, mainly the safety glass of windshields, etc. but possibly broken bottles too, so you might have to watch your step or maybe chance running either on the grass with its hidden dangers or even on the white stripe of the highway. In more than 6 years of barefoot running I’ve only gotten 2 tiny pieces of glass in my feet. In contrast, I’ve gotten lots of sand burrs in my feet by running in the grass, although now my feet are so tough that burrs are only a nuisance. Since the race is in the spring, burrs should not be hidden in the grass.

I’ve run this race a couple years but did not do so last year because I had sprained my ankle then gotten a stress fracture in the same foot. Alas, the weather was perfect for running last year but the year before when I ran this race, it was dry, very hot and extremely windy and I was a full minute slower off my pace.

Everyone gets a finishing medal and the better runners (not me yet) get hand made trophies (overall, age, sex). The after party has a band, lots of beer, excellent food and home cooked deserts. Just be sure to not gain back all the weight you just finished running off!


Thanks Barefoot RunnerYou can see barefoot gradings for other races and events here. It is a community list made up of reviews from readers. It would be great for you to submit a barefoot review of a race near you.

There are well over 400 posts on Barefoot Beginner. Have a look at the new Start Here page here. You will be made very welcome.

Mar 28

Bath Half Race Report – Ian Hicks

I had been keeping my eye on the weather forecast, in the vain hope that I would see warm, dry weather for the 2014 Bath Half on Sunday 2nd March! Unfortunately my prayers went unanswered and I was left with the prospect of running the race on a cold and wet day. I also had the fear that I had not done enoughbarefoot training over the winter. This was mainly because I had been reviewing three separate minimal shoes for Barefoot Running Magazine. Were my feet ready to cope with 13 miles of wet, cold tarmac?

UntitledFinally, the day arrived and I awoke to a wet and cold Sunday morning. I arrived with plenty of time to spare to have a look round the “Runners Village”, which unfortunately because of the wet conditions there were just a few baggage tents and Portaloos! I had decided before-hand to start running with my Sockwas on if the race was going to be wet. So wearing my Sockwas …… I took my position at the start line. I took the opportunity while waiting for the start to check out the tarmac!  I’m sure I was probably the only runner there who was taking photos of the tarmac. I’m still waiting for a reply from Bath City Council about my complaint on the condition of the roads around Bath. They are wholly unsuitable for barefoot runners!


Untitled112,000 runners lined up for a cold and wet race, but this did not stop the spectators coming out in there thousands to do a fantastic job of cheering us on. The course is on a loop, generally flat with only a couple of slight gradients. Water bottle stations and two Lucozade stations were spread over on the route. The organizers did a very good job of marshalling 12,000 runners around Bath.

The last few miles were hard going for me, as my energy had gone. I realised that I had not done enough training over the winter. I made it over the finish line in a time of 2:10, which I was pleased with as I was barefoot for the majority of the race.

Untitled2I will give this a BB-Blue-Moderate rating. No real problem for the moderate barefooter who is up to half marathon distance.

Thanks Ian – You can see barefoot gradings for other races and events here. It is a community list made up of reviews from readers. It would be great for you to submit a barefot review of a race near you.

There are well over 400 posts on Barefoot Beginner. Have a look at the new Start Here page here. You will be made very welcome.

Mar 24

8 km barefoot/minimalist Rhino Run – May 1st Kensington

Those lovely folk at Barefoot Running Magazine have organised a barefoot/minimalist event for May 1st.

  • 8km (easy fun run in London)
  • All runners receive a ‘Save the Rhino’ African bracelet. Please email your intention to run to by April 18th to get your bracelet.
  • Your £3 donation goes to the Save the Rhino Foundation
  • Start 2pm at Kensington Close Hotel, Kensington
  • Route Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and surrounds
  • Facility for leaving a small bag at the start.
  • Luck Draw for a handcrafted pair of T-Rocket running sandals

Rhino Run

Feb 12

Slaughterford 9 Race Report – Review by barefooter Ian Hicks

Many thanks to Ian for his review of the Slaughterford 9 race. He gave it a barefooters Severe (BBBB) rating. You can read more about our barefoot ratings here and check out other events to see how they suit barefooting here.

If you barefoot a race, we would love to hear from you. Our aim is to build up a community resource. Use the contact form at the top of the page to get touch.

Over to Ian:

It is billed as a multi-terrain race over 9 miles of steeply undulating countryside, carrying a “sting in its tail”. Whilst tackling 900 feet of ascent/descent in the Slaughterford valley runners will encounter tarmac, stony paths, fields, tracks and green lanes.

I had been looking forward to this race for some time, as a cross-country, multi-terrain course is something my feet love. My only conundrum was whether I should race barefoot, wear Paleos, my homemade sandals or Sensori Venture!

I had ruled out bare feet on this occasion because parts of the course are rock laden tracks, having the added delight of steep ascents! I was unsure whether sandals would be suitable for such muddy terrain – although looking back with hindsight, sandals would have been fine. I had just received a pair of Paleos with “Paws” – see my January blog – from GoSt Barefoots in Germany so the Paleos it had to be.

Slaughterford 9

My good friend and barefoot runner Stephen Richards and I arrived at the Slaughterford 9 registration point, on a rather cold and wet morning at the end of January. 350 runners turned up for what was going to be a very wet and muddy run. The start was on a narrow country lane which led down into Slaughterford valley, following mostly gravel and rock laden tracks we made it to the bottom.

After running along the valley, we were sent up a very steep, wet and muddy farmer’s field, walking was the name of game here! Along the top of the ridge – with good views to be had, if you are not blinded by the rain!

Back down into the valley and then a small section where we ran along the river, which was up to our knees! – good fun though. Then came the final push back up to the top. Again the majority of runners, including myself walked up. Half way up a marshal was kindly shouting encouragement by saying “it’s all up hill from here”! A short section of tarmac, around the corner and the finish line was in sight, a very welcome sight indeed!

At the finish we were given a very welcome Mars bar and a bottle of water. No medal for this race but a t-shirt that said “I made it to the top”! Stephen had been waiting at the finish for sometime – Stephen is a far faster runner than myself!

The marshalling was excellent, with marshals on virtually every corner. Two drink stations were set up at about 3 and 6 miles with the 6 mile station offering orange segments. This race is “cracking” good value for money, £10 for un-affiliated and £8 for affiliated. The organisers, Chippenham Harriers laid on a very good event, my thanks to them

I have to give this a BBBB – barefoot server rating! Mainly because of the rocky paths and the steep gradients but also because of the mud on the steep ascent/descent, it would be virtually impossible to get any traction barefoot!

If you have a race review to submit, we would love to hear from you. Check out other reviews and submit a review here.

p.s. I would be grateful if you would head over and like our facebook page here.

p.p.s We also have a very friendly discussion group. Come and join in the chat, you will be made very welcome. We are a family group (my kids read over my shoulder). We don’t do profanity and we don’t do negativity. We run, we chat and we smile.

Jan 30

Amis Sans Shoes Events – Paul Beales

Have you heard the recent buzz that’s going on in the barefoot running world about the barefoot 10K global charity event that is taking place all around the world this year?

Amis Sans Shoes (Friends Without Shoes for the non-Franglais) is a community page on Facebook that is asking barefoot runners, walkers and hikers from all around the world to meet up, run together and share their experiences with the rest of the world, all in support of international aid charity CARE International.

CARE International reached more than 82 million people last year, working in 87 countries, implementing long-term programmes to fight poverty, responding to humanitarian emergencies, and advocating for policy change to improve the lives of the poorest people.

 CARE have been doing much-needed excellent work in the Philippines recently. 14.1 million people were affected by the recent typhoon there, leaving 4.1 million displaced and more than 6,000 people dead. CARE are currently working to deliver emergency relief in three areas of the Philippines: Leyte, Samar and Panay. Their target is to reach 200,000 people with lifesaving food, shelter, other assistance, and help communities recover in the months and years to come.

For more details of their good work, visit:

The first ‘Amis’ event this year is a 10K BAREFOOT CHARITY RUN/WALK/HIKE to take place between 1st March and 31st August (including some events which will coincide with the Barefoot Runners Society’s International Barefoot Running Day on 4th May.)

The 10K must be done in one run/walk/hike WITH AT LEAST ONE OTHER BAREFOOTER, anytime, anywhere, and can be done as a run, walk, hike, ramble, track event, social run, fell race, competitive road race or even a TrailBall® Challenge. It can also be done in conjunction with any other existing 10K event PROVIDED that at least one other barefooter attends the same event.

BE WARNED HOWEVER – NO SHOES ARE ALLOWED FOR ANY OF THE 10K – including minimalist shoes, toe shoes, socks or huararche sandals! This is strictly for us barefooters.

The entry fee is £18.50 per person, and all monies raised will be donated to CARE International. All entrants will receive a personalised printed race number together with an information pack prior to their event, and an exclusive commemorative enamelled medal and ribbon on completion of their event.

Confirmed events are being planned in South Wales and Coventry in the UK, in Warmia in Poland, and in the Philippines. It is hoped that many more events in all countries will soon be appearing on the Facebook page as more and more people sign up.

The Amis’ motto as displayed on their web pages is “Barefoot, we’re almost always at peace. We’re gentle and tolerant with our fellow man” – Barbara Holland

This is a very ambitious project from Paul Beales and Julia Bradburn, and we should all support them by signing up and having some barefoot fun in the sun this Summer!

Amis Sans Shoes can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at @amissansshoes.

The 10K event page is at:

The ticket website is at:

Oct 12

Barefoot running review of the Bournmouth half marathon – Amit K Baswal


Thanks to Amit K Baswal for this barefoot running review of the Bournmouth half marathon. Amit graded it as BBB Red (Difficult). See other barefoot running race reviews here.

Bournemouth Half-Marathon 2013 – 06/10/2013- Most fun run I’ve ever had at half-marathons. I’ve been running half-marathons for some time now but I have always run shod before. This year after being introduced to barefoot running I completed this half-marathon completely barefoot. This was an excellent run for number of reasons – no injuries after or during the run, no shin-splints, no knee pain and my PB(1.38 whoo woo!!). Really pleased how changing running from shod to barefoot has improved my overall running.

Around 2850 runners took part with only 3 barefoot runners – Tim Armitage, Rik Vanhoutteghem and myself. Run started at Kings Park through smooth tarmac for the first couple of miles but turned into very rough surface with large stones in the tarmac mix felt like a cheese grater especially along the prom. I kept looking for painted lines on the roads but there were too few!! A good organised event overall with water stations after every few miles and spectators cheering us all the way. Though I did get funny looks and comments!


If you enjoyed Amit’s review, please join in the chat at our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. We also have a facebook page for you to visit and like.

Submitting your own barefoot running race review is easy. You can follow the link on our race page or just use the contact form at the top of the page. It is a community list and growing all the time.

Oct 07

Barefoot running review – Saddleworth Edges fell race – Greg Dimelow

Thanks to Greg for this barefoot running review of the Saddleworth Edges fell race

This race report is incomplete because ……….it was a DNF ! Now that might not seem that bad but in my entire racing career this is only my third ever DNF. My first was a bike crash in a regional triathlon championship that put me out of racing for nearly a year. The second was the final race of my triathlon career and ended racing for nearly 15 years, so trust me this is a big deal. Anyway to the race…..

The race route info states:

 “The race starts at Tanners mill and starts with a steep climb up a grassy field. ”

That is an understatement ! It was nearly vertical well to a softy road runner like me. Then it just kept on going up and up and up !!! Being at the back from the start,getting left behind and watching everybody else just float up the fell through knee deep heather was an inspiring sight if I had not been dying. My legs and lungs wanted to explode. As i was working that hard my legs filled with blood and swelled to full pump. This whilst wearing skins compression shorts meant that my legs couldn’t work properly and felt like they were going to burst.

The climb to the stone shelter and trig point at the summit is unrelenting but offers fine views.

I guess it did but I couldn’t breathe or feel anything but pain in my legs by this point. Basically everybody had left me a long way behind by the time I reached the top of Alphin fell. The Marshall was very kind and pointed me in the right direction off over the peaty fells to Wimberry Rocks before climbing again to Stable Stones Brow.

The edges turn narrow and rocky from here to Chew Reservoir but pleasant running and beautiful views if you can afford a look.

And here lies my main issue……..I cannot run….no I don’t know how to run on boulders and knee deep peat bog.

By the time I had left the checkpoint the runner in front of me had disappeared from view and was just a spot occasionally in the distance and as if that wasn’t bad enough emotionally, another runner who had turned up late , mooched up the fell and passed me laughing saying he didnt know the route and had set off late and wasn’t this jolly or something ! I asked him to let the Marshall know I wasn’t dead , feeling fine, moving slow but still moving. He took my race number and said he would let the Marshall know. Nice guy really but right at that time it just emotionally destroyed what little confidence I had left that I could finish the race. It’s one thing being last its another being passed by somebody who set off ages after we had all started. It just did me in. After that I concentrated on moving a quickly as I could and trying to figure out what I didn’t know that others did ? And how to move on this style of terrain.

Being relatively local to dovestones I have walked the area a bit and knew where I was even running past a previous brew stop. But there was no time to stop or enjoy the views today as I was painfully aware of how slow I was moving and how hard the terrain was to run on. Paths 6 inch wide with a huge drop to the side, heather attempting to trip you up with every step and loose rocks underfoot are not easy for a softy road runner to move over. My confidence increased and waned with every step with occasional ridiculously humorous moments when I was following footsteps across peat sections only to sink to my knees in peat bogs. I attempted to follow the stud marks from all the other runners. Walsh fell shoes leave a distinguishable tread print in the mud and they became strangely comforting to follow considering that I couldn’t see anybody anymore. They at least let me know I was on roughly the right track.

Then I hit what can be at best described as a rocky set of drops. Now all the real fell runners out there wouldn’t even think twice about this bit of the run but I just stopped at the top and laughed to myself at the drops in front of me and couldn’t figure out how to run at any pace down them. Walking, scrambling yes but running no. Then it went from what was the ridiculous to the sublime. Long gullies in the peat all churned up by the other runners that I sank into generally mid calf but up to knee deep. That was when I saw the Marshall at Chew reservoir about the 4 mile point.

I would like to thank that Marshall hugely. When I approached him there was no hint of impatience or ridicule in his support for this heavily overweight, vibram wearing, obviously out of his depth road runner. Just support for making it that far. We discussed the route on and the option of my DNF. He stated … gets easier from here but the next bit is the same until the next trig point. That was it I had had it ! The road back to the start was too tempting and just knew I didn’t have the will to finish just to say I had finished. We chatted about the run and he suggested that I was doing the right thing by knowing my limits and that was it finalised. I ended my race and thanked him for marshalling and waiting for me.

As I set off down the access road I felt like a weight had been lifted. But then the analysis started. What went wrong? Why ? When ? And how? Also what did I have to do to become a fell runner ? As I walked / ran back to the start I reflected on my race and a few things became painfully clear

I am too overweight to run up fells. Simple as that. Gravity is nobody’s friend less so mine.

I’m not fit enough to run up fells. Again simple get fitter.

Compression clothing is great but not when it stops your legs from working because it is too tight. I never knew my legs swelled up that much when working really hard.

You NEED grip it’s not negotiable. Vibrams are great on roads and trails but are just pointless on peat moors. I’m not ready to put shoes back on but both Walsh and inov8 now make minimalist zero drop fell shoes with the midsole removed that I need to take a look at.

I don’t know how to run on fell and moorland terrain. The skill set used on roads generally transfers to trail running but trail running is not fell running. It’s another world with an entirely different skill set and I have not got a clue how to move over that kind of terrain at all. I need more time spent training on the fells. It’s a skill set that can be developed , its just going to take time.

On roads it’s as simple as keep putting one foot in front of the other, on the fells it’s not that simple. Route choice and being able to read the ground is crucial to ground speed. Again it’s a skill I don’t have.

If you choose to bail on a race……don’t bail at the furthest point from the start/ finish ! I still had a 3.25 mile walk back. Trust me its a long and lonely walk.

I had a great time and learnt loads. As with my other fell race I have come away feeling like fell running is where I belong. I have so much to learn about the sport it’s like starting running all over again and whilst daunting its very exciting. I love being out there on the fells and the sense of camaraderie and genuine concern for your fellow runner is refreshing. As is the belief that it is my responsibility and nobody else’s to keep myself safe and get my sorry butt off the fell when i dropped out. On the roads somebody would have had a bus to take me back to the start and taken all responsibility off me.

A huge thank to you to the organisers Saddleworth running club, all the marshals, support crew, everybody who talked to me and made me feel welcome, brew run for stocking a great post run chilled lemon drink and everybody else out on the fells that day.

As far as giving it a barefoot rating…..well I’m not sure it would be possible to “race” over this terrain fully barefoot. It would be possible on a dry day to run the route. It would be a great challenging barefoot walk where pace is irrelevant. Running on fells is like stepping onto the moon, everything you think you know about running stops working. As such I’m rating it as a BBBB (severe) but this still feels lacking as I don’t believe that our feet have enough grip.


Greg is a member of the Northwest Barefooters running group and an active member of the Barefoot Beginner facebook group.


Sep 26

Barefoot Running Review of the Camelot Challenge Multi-Terrain Half Marathon

Many thanks to Paul Beales (Barefoot Beginner member) for this barefoot running review of the Camelot Challenge. You can see a full list of barefoot running reviews here.

Barefoot Running Review of the Camelot Challenge Multi-Terrain Half Marathon, Sherborne, Dorset, 21st September 2013

By: Paul Beales

This was the first ever Camelot Challenge, organised to raise funds for Countess Gytha Primary School in Queen Camel, Somerset, and was a circular half marathon open to runners, walkers (and dogs) starting from The Gryphon Leisure Centre in Sherborne.

The route circled around areas of naturally beautiful scenery through the Vale of Camelot, filled with Arthurian legends, and passes through towns, country, forests and even a stream. It was mainly on public footpaths, with some of the route opened by special permission of the land-owners.

There were a number of marshalling points and water stops around the route (and even sandwiches, cakes and tea provided halfway round for anyone not in any great hurry to finish.) Toilets, showers and changing facilities and FREE FOOD AND DRINKS were available at the start and finish.

The starting corral was in a natural funnel formed by a high-hedged minor tarmac road, with the start line made up of five smiling kids (including my 7 year old son Jonty, who absolutely loved the job!)

A lot of the route was on very barefoot-friendly grass, dry soil paths and forest tracks, with some slippy, slidey, squelchy muddy bits – which were good fun. There were quite a lot of large hills to climb however!

A large amount of the route was on minor roads which were quite rough and gritty however. (The last half mile or so was on rough Tarmac that had seen much better days, but was nothing that tough barefooters like me can’t manage.)

There were a few issues with runners and walkers losing their way. I managed to overtake about 10 runners when I took a left hand loop around a figure of eight when they had taken the correct but longer right hand loop. It came as quite a surprise when they caught up with me at the halfway point! (Having realised what I had done, I did of course do the other loop on the way back.)

According to my GPS, I did a total of 13.83 miles in the end, whilst a friend of mine did 14.57 miles. Some entrants were quite annoyed by this. When I discussed this with the organisers at the end, it became apparent that a number of signs had been removed, and the organisers have said that they will make sure that there are more marker posts next year.

The finish line was on the same Tarmac road that we started on. There were no fancy, schmancy electronic tags or anything. Runners’ finish times were checked on a clock and written on a little card given to the runners. The finish line was well organised, but I would have liked there to have been a little more room and reasons for supporters and previous finishers to hang around and congratulate finishers.