Category: Review

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.

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 13

Paleobarefoot Paws – A barefoot review by Ian Hicks

Jörg from GoSt Barefoots very kindly sent me a pair of Pronativ just before Christmas, but this was no ordinary pair! This pair has been fitted with “Paws”! For an additional cost this new option is now available for the existing ULTRA range. The “Paws” are resin spots that are bonded to the underside of the mesh soles. The idea behind this is, to give them good grip on smooth surfaces.

The fit is better with the “Paws” fitted. The spots give the ULTRAS a bit of structure, creating a more shoe-like shape, although these are still more akin to a sock (performance sock) than a shoe. Anybody who has read issue 9 of Barefoot Running UK Magazine, would have seen my long term review of the Pronativ. In the review I talk about a slack feeling over the toes, this is now much less noticeable.

The barefoot feel is not as good with the spots fitted. The mesh is now raised very slightly off the ground. As my preferred option is barefoot, I probably notice this more than a minimalist runner would. Having said this, the barefoot stimulation is far better than the majority of minimalist shoes on the market.

Performance however has definitely improved. The grip now on hard surfaces is much better with the “Paws” over the standard Pronativ. I am able to run on roads now, which was not really possible without the spots. They are great for running on roads in the rain. Water just drains straight through them. Unlike closed shoes where they can hold so much water, it’s like running with a pair of sodden sponges strapped to your feet!

Overall, the “Paws” are definitely an improvement on the standard model. Having run in a standard pair and a pair with the “Paws” fitted, I would choose the “Paws” option. Their ability to grip on smooth surfaces far out weights the slight loss of ground feel. Thanks Jörg, I thought you had made the ultimate minimal shoe with the Pronativ, but I was wrong. Now with the “Paws” option, barefoot running just got even better!

Nov 09

Paleo Barefoot review – Ian Hicks

I asked Chris if I could write this post about the Paleo Barefoots. My motive behind this is to talk about a minimal shoe that I think has been mis-understood and has a real future.

I will try and dismiss some of the myths about the Paleos.

Price: Yes, these are pricey, but they will last far longer than any minimal shoe on the market by a very long way.

Noise: Yes, on smooth, hard, man-made surfaces there is noticeable noise, but these have been designed to be worn on natural terrain. Worn on these surfaces there is no noise.

Weight: Yes, they are heavier than most minimal shoes. Once running this weight is not noticeable. Also, as they are far more flexible than minimal shoes, they allow the foot to move how it is designed to move.

Cold: Yes, you will feel the cold but is that not all part of the barefoot running experience?

Now that winter is coming on, the trails are becoming very muddy around my home. With bare feet on this type of terrain I end up slipping and sliding all the time. The Paleos provide me with the grip that I need to be able to actually run these trails.

I love these two photos of after a run in the Paleos. Looking at my feet you would automatically think I had just got back from a barefoot trail run. I had in fact worn the Paleos – that is how barefoot the run was, just with added grip, protection, confidence and pleasure.