Doing the Ultimate Hike in FiveFingers - Help Alejandra Out!

Doing the Ultimate Hike in FiveFingers - Help Alejandra Out!

The following is a guest post by Alejandra Aldana

On May 4, 2013, I will be participating in Ultimate Hike, a 28.3 mile hike benefiting CureSearch for Children's Cancer. My goal is to not only complete this very long hike in one day, but also help raise awareness and $2500 in funds for CureSearch.

CureSearch for Children's Cancer, a National Childhood Cancer Foundation, funds and supports targeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurable results, and is the authoritative source of information and resources for all those affected by children's cancer. CureSearch funds both local and national research, ensuring that a cure will be found as quickly as possible.

I have decided to take this challenge for a number of reasons. I want the opportunity to help give back to those affected by cancer as well as improve my life and fitness. Part of what I hope to accomplish other than raising funds for children in need is becoming part of a community and pushing my boundaries.

I plan on completing the 28.3 miles completely in my Vibram Five Fingers and while many people are advising me against it, I just don't see myself doing it without them. It is going to take a lot of building my feet up, but I am more than confident I will be able to do so. If you are able to donate to my fundraising that would be great. If not that will be fine, too. What I would love to get out of this, is the opportunity to share my journey with others. There is nothing more powerful and exhilarating than a sense of community for a great cause. If you are interested in joining me on my minimalist journey please let me know as soon as possible (we have already started our first training session). If you would like to help follow and share me and my cause you can do so at 10littlepiggies.tumblr.com.

You can also donate directly by following this link.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement!

Going Toe to Toe in Classic and Sprint Vibram Five Fingers

Taken in Madison, Wisconsin on January 31, 2010. Picture shows my black Sprints and two of my sisters in lilac Classics. Taken outside of the store where we had just purchaed them and HAD to wear them out of the store! You can just barely see my daughter'
Taken in Madison, Wisconsin on January 31, 2010. Picture shows my black Sprints and two of my sisters in lilac Classics. Taken outside of the store where we had just purchaed them and HAD to wear them out of the store! You can just barely see my daughter'

From VFFer Stephanie comes the above photo — a meeting of the toes via new Classic Vibram Five Fingers:

Taken in Madison, Wisconsin on January 31, 2010. Picture shows my black Sprints and two of my sisters in lilac Classics. Taken outside of the store where we had just purchaed them and HAD to wear them out of the store! You can just barely see my daughter's tennis shoes—she was very bummed to discover FiveFingers don't come in her size!

I'm pretty certain that this is the first Five Fingers user story I've heard of where multiple individuals were picking up pairs of Vibrams at the same time! And it would have been four! I feel bad for your daughter, Stephanie!

Thanks for sharing!

Derik's KSO Treks at Work and Five Fingers Flows at the Gym

Top: Derik wears his Flow Five Fingers to the gym.  Bottom: Derik sports his black KSO Trek Five Fingers to work!
Top: Derik wears his Flow Five Fingers to the gym. Bottom: Derik sports his black KSO Trek Five Fingers to work!

Here's what Derik has to say about his newly acquired Vibram Five Fingers KSO Treks and Flows:

My first pair of VFF's! I received them in the mail about 3 weeks ago and was anxious to hit the gym and treadmill with them. I searched everywhere here in Omaha, Nebraska to find a place that had my style and size in stock. I even called many stores in Texas so my parents could pick them up and bring them to me when they came up to visit. Luckily I found these in Lincoln, Nebraska and had them sent up to Omaha.

I have enjoyed everything about them and will not go back to normal shoes during any of my training sessions. There is something wonderful about training in my VFF's! I enjoyed them so much that I had to look for another pair that I could use during my everyday normal activities ... including during work at the office.

I added the KSO Trek to my collection last weekend and have worn them everyday to work. This pic was taken on a casual dress day but I have worn them with my slacks and enjoy getting the weird looks and questions that follow. I have worn these barefoot but lately been going with injinji socks since its negative degrees outside here. The added traction of the trek helps a ton when going to the store or checking my mail. The flows didnt do much for walking on ice and I almost lost it a few times.

Thanks for the user review, Derik! That extra traction from the KSO Treks definitely helps on icy sidewalks and streets. Just this past weekend I had a chance to test my Flows on snow and frozen icy sidewalks; they handled fine though my toes got pretty cold!

Anyway, glad you're enjoying your FiveFingers so much, Derik! Once it warms up a bit, you may need to pick up a pair of standard KSOs or Classics! Seems you can't have too many pairs of Vibrams.

More 2010 and 2011 updates from Vibram: New versions of the FiveFingers Sprint and KSO Trek Proposed use different materials for the upper

On the heels of the Fall 2010 Five Fingers Sport Trek announced at Outdoor Retailer a few weeks back, and last week's news regarding the Five Fingers Sprint and the Smartwool Classic Five Fingers, comes news straight from the mothership — that is, Vibram.com, by way of a PDF press release published in conjunction with the 2010 Winter ISPO in Munich.

The release (It is multilingual; see page 51 for English) talks about proposed new 2010 and 2011 (winter) models of Vibram Five Fingers. I'll save you the suspense — below are thumbnails from the document of the new models. Take a gander while I tell you a bit more on what you're looking at:

A revamped Sprint FiveFingers design using Coconut Fiber Fabric for the Upper also has a new sole that isn't pictured. (thumbnail)
A revamped Sprint FiveFingers design using Coconut Fiber Fabric for the Upper also has a new sole that isn't pictured.
A Vibram Sprint FiveFingers version in Kangaroo Leather; like the new Coconut Fiber, will also feature a revamped sole. (thumbnail)


A Vibram Sprint FiveFingers version in Kangaroo Leather; like the new Coconut Fiber, will also feature a revamped sole.
A proposed Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek that features a coconut fiber fabric upper. (thumbnail)



A proposed Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek that features a coconut fiber fabric upper.
Smartwool Classic FiveFingers in green proposed for 2010 2011 Winter from Vibram
Smartwool Classic FiveFingers in green proposed for 2010 2011 Winter from Vibram



So what do we have here? First off, let me note what isn't mentioned: the Five Fingers Sport Trek. We know the Sport Trek is coming out (The Sport Trek was seen at IPSO), so I don't know why it wasn't mentioned on this page.

What is mentioned is a proposed Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek that uses coconut fiber. I'll save you the trouble — here's a Google Search for coconut fabric. If you're familiar with the properties of coconut, you'd not be surprised to learn that fabric or cloth made from coconuts is anti-microbial. A bit more searching and I learned about Cocona Fabrics, a manufacturer of coconut-based cloth. I don't know if this is the exact brand of material Vibram will be using, but my hunch is that brand aside, the properties probably transpose. And those properties include natural moisture-wicking behavior, odor-resistance, and the material is natural, using no harsh chemicals in its manufacturing. Exciting, right? This proposed coconut fabric KSO Trek will be available in blue, green, red, and black*.

Well, to add to the excitement of using coconut fabric, the release talks about two new iterations of the Sprint Vibram Five Fingers! These new versions both use a revamped sole that has grooves to "enhance the skiproof grip of the sole." One version will use the coconut fabric upper (in blue or black) and the other will use a well-ventilated kangaroo leather upper (blue detailing, greyish upper). Unfortunately, the Vibram release doesn't include a photo of the refined FiveFingers Sprint, extra grooved sole, so we'll just have to sit on that one for now.

Finally, we get one more look at Smartwool Classic Five Fingers — this time in a nice grassy green. Interestingly, we get a note about the insole of the Smartwool Classic — it's felt. This Classic reload a la Smartwool is apparently intended for activities such as weight lifting/training, yoga, pilates, martial arts, and casual wear (what I'd personally be interested in them for).

All in all, it looks like Vibram is stepping up their game. I say this because one of the biggest complaints among Five Fingers fans is that Five Fingers stink after long periods of wear. There are a number of ways to deal with this, but it'd be awesome if VFFs naturally resisted odor build-up. For that matter, KSO Trek wearers are already noticing that their kangaroo leather foot gloves seem more odor resistant than the nylon Vibram KSOs. Add to it all that these reloaded models are all using natural materials — well, I think this could be good.

I'll end with one note about a word used in the press release: "proposed". Though all these winter 2010/2011 models seem a step in the right direction for Vibram, next is a long ways off, so if you're like me, you'll relegate this announcement to far off lands for the next six months or so. We've got much more exciting stuff in the near future: like the Five Fingers Bikila!

What do you think about coconut fiber KSO Treks and Sprints? How about leather Sprints with new, more skidproof soles? Join the discussion by leaving your thoughts below with a comment!

(H/T to Hinogi on the forums for finding this PDF)

* I have to wonder if the Five Fingers Sport Treks and VFF Sprints photoed at ISPO aren't using the coconut fabric. On a closer inspection of those photos, the fabric does look a bit different from the nylon synthetic we're used to!

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 2/14/10

Below is a thoughtful follow-up review of the KSO after 1,200 miles of wear and also a review of the KSO Trek. Oddly enough, both come from blogs with the "Rambling" in their titles!

  • Vibram Five-Fingers, 1200 Miles in at Rambling Outside the Box [KSO]:

    Shoe manufactures would like you to believe that you need to replace your running shoes every few months or every few hundred miles whichever comes first. I never really bought into that plan, running happily for many months and miles in nominally worn-out shoes. Nevertheless, I am still impressed by how few signs of wear my Five Fingers show after 8 months and 1200 miles. They should be good for many more miles to come. That’s not to say that they have been completely problem free. There have been a handful of holes and seams to repair particularly wear I’ve poked the fabric with sticks. These are easy repairs to make since the material is just a cloth fabric that is easily sewn. The soles are holding up well. There is visible wear, but since there are no lugs to wear off, the wear is spread over more surface area. I have not yet needed to add any material to the soles and may not need to over the life of the shoes. As yet, I still can’t tell what the ultimate end-of-life failure mode is likely to be.

    Comprehensive review not only of long-term use of KSOs, but also detailed thoughts on how a switch to minimalist footwear has affected his gait. If you want to know how VFFs hold up over the long run, check this out!

  • Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Review at Running and Rambling [KSO Trek]:

    From my standpoint, the Trek is absolutely ideal – it features all the improvements over the KSO that trail runners have asked for, while maintaining the lightness and ground feel of purely minimalist footwear. In fact, I’m so confident about their comfort and performance that doing an ultra in the Treks seems completely manageable. I’m hoping to build my overall mileage in them significantly over the course of the spring and summer, and I’ll keep you posted with updates as I look towards potential races in the fall.

You can find last week's latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews here.

Smartwool Classic Five Fingers, Vibram Sport Trek, and New Colors on Deck for Fall 2010 [New Products]

Armin over at Voycontigo.de was kind enough to pass on the a few photos that were snapped at the recent (February 6 - 9, 2010) ISPO Outdoor Trade event in Munich. Here are the details:

Smartwool Classic Vibram Five Fingers

This is Classic Five Fingers model uses Smartwool for the upper, which is moisture-wicking, itchless, and anti-microbial.  It looks pretty fancy, too!

This is Classic Five Fingers model uses Smartwool for the upper, which is moisture-wicking, itchless, and anti-microbial. It looks pretty fancy, too!

There's been some scuttlebutt recently about a new Smartwool Classic Five Fingers that Vibram will be releasing in 2010 (Not yet sure when in 2010, but let's just guess Fall at this point!). What is Smartwool? It's apparently a treated wool that is itch-free, moisture wicking, and anti-microbial (wikipedia). From where I sit, I'm already digging the natural look of the Smartwool Classic (both the dark and light varietals), but you know I already think Classic Five Fingers are the best! I've been wanting Vibram to make some Classic VFFs in leather, but I'll take a pair of these in the meantime!

The Vibram Five Fingers Sport Trek

We just heard about the Vibram Five Fingers Sport Trek for Fall 2010 a few weeks back; here is another color combination.  Note the TPU toe protection, the Achilles notch, and the Trek sole.

We just heard about the Vibram Five Fingers Sport Trek for Fall 2010 a few weeks back; here is another color combination. Note the TPU toe protection, the Achilles notch, and the Trek sole.

Moving along, we see an earth-toned color combination of the Vibram Five Fingers Sport Trek, which was recently unveiled at the winter Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. The key features of the Sport Trek that set it apart from the standard KSO are the TPU toe protection (see the glossy covering on the toes); the Achilles notch, which should aid it's use for running; and the lightly cleated Trek sole that you get on the KSO Trek.

Vibram Five Fingers Performa Jane

Photoed here are new models for 2010: the Performa Jane (left, black) and a new color combination of the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint (right, auburn).

Photoed here are new models for 2010: the Performa Jane (left, black) and a new color combination of the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint (right, auburn).

And then there's another shot of the Five Fingers Performa Jane. The Performa Jane has a svelte "Mary Jane" look. I kinda like the punched styling, but what do you all think?

A new Five Fingers Sprint color combination

A previously unseen new color combination for the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint, and earthy auburn and black.

A previously unseen new color combination for the Vibram Five Fingers Sprint, and earthy auburn and black.

We'd seen mock-ups of the black, grey, and camouflaged KSO Five Fingers before, but this is the first we've seen a real photo.  Also, you get another shot of the Smartwool Classic VFFs here!

We'd seen mock-ups of the black, grey, and camouflaged KSO Five Fingers before, but this is the first we've seen a real photo. Also, you get another shot of the Smartwool Classic VFFs here!

Here we get another look at some new color combinations for the KSO and Sprint. We'd previously seen the black, grey, and camouflaged KSO color combination, but this is the first I've seen of this earthy Sprint VFF color combo. Finally, see Voycontigo's post on ISPO 2010 and the new VFFs here (German) (translated). Thanks Voycontigo! So that's the latest. What do you all think?

Interview with Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run

Christopher McDougall, (barefoot) runner and author of the national bestselling book Born to Run, sits atop a pile of chopped wood, ax at the ready, barefoot at his home in Pennsylvania (Photo by Bill Cramer)
Christopher McDougall, (barefoot) runner and author of the national bestselling book Born to Run, sits atop a pile of chopped wood, ax at the ready, barefoot at his home in Pennsylvania (Photo by Bill Cramer)

I'm pleased to present below an interview with Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run (review) and the de facto spokesman for the growing barefoot and minimalist running movement. Despite being completely slammed these days with interest in both BtR and barefoot running, Chris let me pick his brain on a few questions, and what follows is our exchange.

Justin Owings (for BirthdayShoes): Something you've really focused on in BtR is that, "If you deny your nature, it will erupt in some other, uglier way." Do you think the predominant culture surrounding running and fitness in the U.S. exhibits a denial of our nature? If distance running is part of the solution, why do you think so many runners are so concerned with PRs, footwear, and getting ever better running gadgetry?

Christopher McDougall (blog): Remember what Dr. Bramble at the Univ of Utah pointed out: we have a machine built to run, and a brain built to conserve fuel at all costs. That’s what our obession with gadgetry and fancy shoes is all about; we’re easy prey for marketing ploys which play on our instinct to make running as safe, and energy-efficient as possible. I came across a very smart comment recently by a runner who pointed out that speed is really equal to knowledge; setting a PR indicates that you’ve learned more about training and avoiding injury. But the problem is, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a smart solution and snake oil.

JO: There's a general movement afoot towards finding a balance between our biological underpinnings—the ancient DNA that shapes the needs of our mind and body—and our convenient, consumer-driven modern lifestyle*. What do you make of these seemingly related movements? Where do you think it is going, if anywhere?

CM: Lots of people seem to be heading toward the same basic truths from different directions. And the overlap isn’t as coincidental as it seems. I first heard about Erwan Le Corre from Barefoot Ted, who had gotten an email from him the day I arrived to visit Ted in California. Erwan introduced me to Lee Saxby, whom I met while I was in London for a fascia conference. This Friday, Erwan is coming to visit me for a couple of days, and we’re going down to see Dr. Irene Davis, co-author of the Nature barefooting story and now a barefoot runner herself, at her UDel lab. So I think the surge in evolutionarily-sound living is the result of both coincidental shocks of recognition and active cross-pollination.

JO: Do you think the Titans of the Shoe Industry are ignoring the minimalist footwear movement in hopes that it will go away? What do you think the chances are that the barefoot running / minimalist footwear movement can overthrow these giants?

CM: Yup, they ignore it when they can and have outbursts of silly fearmongering when they can’t. I wouldn’t worry about staging an overthrow. A lot of people suspected a long time ago that they were being conned, which is why they’re now quick to grasp the truths of natural running. That’s what the podiatrists and shoe pushers are missing when they grouse about natural running being a “fad” — they don’t get that their failure to help people created a very real need for people to help themselves.

JO: You've often mentioned that it took a broken toe for you to finally try barefoot running (and now that is your preferred way to run). Do you think you would have eventually tried barefoot running out but for the broken toe? Why do you think it's so hard for people to take off their protective shoes (or FiveFingers) and try out barefoot running?

CM: It’s great that people are skeptical. If they jumped right in, they’d be guilty of the same behavior that the shoe companies are counting on: desperately grabbing at any solution without subjecting it to research and logic. Running in bare feet seems nuts, so it’s the sign of a healthy brain for people to resist. Maybe not as long as I did — I dithered for four years. But if I’d been an early adopter, I would have skipped a lot of painful lessons that were worth learning, so once again chaos somehow turned into coherence without any help from me.

JO: Have you found any particularly effective methods of convincing people to ditch their shoes?

CM: When I ran through Central Park with the New York Times’ Roving Runner, I offered every skeptic who approached us 20 bucks if they’d skin off their shoes and give it a try. No takers. Then a woman in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, called me on it, so I’ve learned to keep my mouth and wallet closed and let people figure it out for themselves.

JO: It seems you went through a significant idealogical transformation in Born to Run — one that has perhaps continued since the book went to print. Are there any parts of the book you'd change or ideas you'd put more emphasis on today?

CM: No, I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now. I was still trying to figure out a lot of this stuff on a personal basis while I was writing the book, and hopefully that prevented me from coming across as a foamy-mouthed zealot.

JO: Did you ever expect to be the face of the running revival (generally) and barefooting or minimalist footwear (specifically) movement?

CM: Nah, the face has to be Barefoot Ken Bob. Maybe people get hold of the idea from “Born to Run,” but then they instantly zoom to Ken’s site (runningbarefoot.org), to get the real info and find out what it’s all about.

JO: When you're not barefoot running, I've seen you sporting VFFs such as when you wore KSO Vibrams on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Did Stewart take notice of your feet?

CM: He only noticed them afterwards, backstage. He asked to touch the bottom of my foot and said it felt like a dog’s paw.

JO: Lastly, what's next for you? Any projects underway or simmering in the back of your mind?

CM: I’m bunkered at home these days, catching up on an avalanche of overdue work. And shoveling snow. And cutting wood. It’s been a bear of a winter.

Thank you, Chris; and I must say, I'm not sure what looks more dangerous in your photo — the ax you wield or your bare feet! In the coming days I hope you get a chance to rest and recuperate.

Additional Chris McDougall Materials:

Chris didn't mention it, but he's recently launched a blog at chrismcdougall.com. The site is just a few weeks old, but Chris is already blogging about such things as the link between running speed and intelligence, the release of Lieberman's research, and the response by some running shoe industry insiders.

In the interview I mention the Authors @ Google presentation — there are actually two of them:

You can completely geek out on Chris either by catching up on previous posts about him on the blog here or taking a spin around the birthdayshoes wiki entry for Christopher McDougall's article publishings and coverage.

* Evidence of this movement can be seen in the increased awareness of barefooting, but also in physical fitness movements that reject over-specialization and over-isolation. See Erwan Le Corre's MovNat or even CrossFit. Also see John Durant on Colbert. Or take McDougall's article on the virtually ignored power of fascia (See his follow-up comment on fascia on Matt Metzgar's fantastic blog). This "human movement" can also be seen on the nutrition front in efforts to mimick the macro-nutrient content and quality of foods eaten by our H-G forbears.