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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Barefoot Runners Society Turns Two!

Happy 2nd Birthday Barefoot Runners Society!  By Nyal Davidsson

[Just a short one for you on this grand occasion.  This post was inspired by (and artwork taken from) a great piece by my friend Nyal Davidsson, who writes a very well done blog called Caveman Diaries.] 

On this day two years ago, a bunch of weirdos set a little idea into motion.  They were the few that had formed the Runner's World Barefoot Forum just a short time before.  They saw that was a good first step, but already inadequate for their mission.  These were the dreamers.  Their mission was to "change the world, one odd look at a time".  And thus, the Barefoot Runners Society was born.

I became a member of BRS shortly after it came into being, and accepted the job of President for the Minnesota Chapter shortly thereafter.  It's been amazing to see the organization grow over the past two years.  BRS went from just a handful of refugees from the Runner's World to over 90 chapters and 3600 registered members worldwide. 

In the past two years, we've certainly developed quite a global community of barefoot runners.  It's a loose system that winds itself through the local clubs, the national website forums, and various facebook pages and blogs.  We are increasingly more connected and able to share news, information, and get together to have a good time.  Thanks to BRS, I don't feel alone anymore.  When I first started barefoot running, I felt like I was on an island.  Now I have friends all over the country who I can talk to about my favorite sport on a regular basis. 

But BRS has never been just about increasing the number of barefoot runners in the world though.  It's about changing the perception of the benefits of barefoot running.  I certainly think it's succeeding there as well.  When I first started barefoot running, I was the weird guy in the neighborhood.  I still am, but at least people know why I'm doing what I'm doing.  Everyone has heard of the health benefits of barefoot running.  Everyone knows someone who owns a pair of those "toe shoes".  I don't hear people say "you're going to break your feet" so much as I hear them say "they say it's really good for you".

One might even say that the BRS mission statement doesn't really even make sense any more.  The looks I'm getting aren't so "odd" anymore.  People are starting to pay attention.  They know what the barefoot movement is about.  They know that it's not just a fad.  Barefoot running is here to stay.

In the meantime, before its next anniversary...I think BRS needs a new slogan.  And that's a good thing...

Thanks to everyone who keep BRS going strong!

4 comments:

  1. Over here in OR we are still getting odd looks. I was looking at a map, maybe on the brs?, about where barefoot runners are and the majority of them appear to be on east coast and midwest. Here on the west coast we still have a way to go into changing peoples minds. It's happening, just slowly still. Glad to see your area is becoming more knowledgeable and accepting.

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  2. That's interesting consideing you are sandwiched between two barefoot eunning meccas: California and Seattle. BRS Oregon is a good sized chapter, though I don't know how active they are. Might be worth dropping a line in the forum and see if you can get plugged in!

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  3. I've met one guy and hopefully I will meet some more here in the near future. I'm pretty active in the OR chapter and getting even more so. I know I will meet more sometime soon. I just ran my first barefoot race a couple weekends ago and there were exactly 4 minimalist runners and 1 barefoot runner, me. I actually had a lot of dirty looks and one guy accused me of cheating because of me being barefoot.

    I'm not saying all of our area is like that, but there are a surprising amount of people that have never seen it here. I had a shod runner last week sometime, who sees me run pretty regularly, stop and explain to a lady who was walking about why I personally run barefoot. The lady that was walking was completely in shock and slightly offended by me running barefoot. The shod runner has talked to me in the past and used to look at me like I was crazy too. After a half year of seeing me I guess she is realizing I am not just doing this as a fad and am not going away.

    She actually caught up to me a few minutes later and we shared some laughs about that walkers reaction. It's nice to know that I am helping to change peoples perceptions and I have people like you to thank for changing my perception and helping to teach me proper form and what not.

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  4. I dunno, I'd say the odd looks still predominate pretty well over the smiles of acknowledgement in St. Paul, especially now that it's cooling down.

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