I'm working on a new project with Outdoor Sporting Enterprises, LLC called North America's Great Outdoors or NAGO for short.  NAGO aims to be the best source and inspiration on the Internet for every outdoor activity.  I've been researching and writing content for the NAGO website, so I haven't had a lot of time to write blogs for my personal threads.  Excuses aside, here's another blog about barefoot running.

I reached an important milestone in barefoot running on Thursday.  As the temperature warms, I'm able to shed even my minimalist Vibrarm Five Fingers to go truly barefoot more often.  Last weekend I ran eight or nine miles barefoot on concrete, with no abrasions, cuts or blisters to show for it.  Although my soles are still soft, my skin and foot muscles have now almost completely adapted to my natural running form and a variety of terrains.

It rained Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  The weather people said an ocean-load of snow was on its way too.  Regardless, I took advantage of a dry and sunny two-hour window in-between storms before I went to work.  Without my Vibrams, I decided to test my soles by running the short, but varied Memmen Ridge Trail Loop.

I began my run on a concrete path that leads to Memmen Ridge's eastern trail head.  This hard path goes past an elementary school, so, shirt-and-shoe-less, I enjoyed the heckling of children as I listened to Babatua Olatunji on my wife's iPod.  Once I'd hopped on the somewhat muddy trail, I had the ridge to myself.

My feet enjoyed and responded to a variety of terrain: from pine needle loam to sharp rocks and gravel.  The rain softened much of the trail into mud.  While pleasing to my soles, this mud made for a slippery ascent up a couple small hills.  I liked the Memmen Ridge trail so much that I ran through downtown to the Castle Rock itself.

Avoiding a couple broken beer bottles along the way, I kept my steps fast and light.  Even the stone asphalt didn't hurt my feet.  Less than ten minutes after I'd left Memmen Ridge, I was running on the most challenging barefoot trail in Castle Rock.

The Rock's trails aren't particularly steep or long compared to many Front Range paths.  However, the town parks and rec people put sharp gravel down around the base of the ascent to stave off erosion.  Getting through this half-mile bed of pointy rocks to the smoother and more pleasant portions of the trail has always intimidated me, so I usually wore my VFFs or huaraches to run this path.  Not this time.

Light and quick, I danced over the gravel and up The Rock.  A profound sense of primal accomplishment floated on waves of endorphins sloshing through my brains as I reached the top of the trail.  A middle school class had also decided to take a field trip to the town monolith that day.  Once again, I enjoyed schoolgirls' heckles of "nice butt" and "sweet pecks" as I ran back down the hill.  I laughed to myself, shook my head, and trekked on after briefly considering the societal irony of this situation. 

What if males had been heckling a female runner on The Rock?  The boys' teachers would most likely have been all over them.  Maybe the woman runner would've filed and won a sexual harassment lawsuit.  Lawsuits aren't my thing, nor is making a big deal out of heckling.  Still, I seem to have run across a double standard on top of the Castle Rock.

I enjoyed the rest of my run and got home with slightly sore soles.  Only one of my toes had blistered on this otherwise harrowing adventure over varied terrain.  I got in the shower, hoping that there was a way in which many more people could understand that they are as much of this world as a deer or a monkey, and humans have a legacy of physical ability far beyond what we give ourselves credit for.  Smiling, I walked to work in my huaraches.