The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

The Inaugural Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore - in Luna Sandals (Venado/original)

You're out on a run. Your nose is getting stuffy, so you lean to the side for a quick farmer's blow. It's cold out, but you didn't realize how cold until you go to wipe your nose with the back of your glove to clear off any additional moisture -- only to find that it's already frozen around the edge of your nostril in mere seconds.

Welcome to the inaugural Asheville Marathon, held on the grounds of the beautiful Biltmore estate. "Well," I thought dramatically at around mile 20, "At least I'll die somewhere majestic."

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Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing "Vibram Four Fingers" [modification]

Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing "Vibram Four Fingers" [modification]

For a long time, I thought webbed toes were limited to Labradors and Kevin Costner's better-forgotten movie Waterworld. Then I heard would-be VFFers lamenting their webbed toes making it impossible to use Vibram fivefingers. What a bummer*!

For a primer on webbed toes, allow me to quote from wikipedia:

Webbed toes is the common name for syndactyly affecting the feet. It is characterised by the fusion of two or more digits of the feet. This is normal in many birds, such as ducks; amphibians, such as frogs; and mammals, such as kangaroos. In humans it is considered unusual, occurring in approximately one in 2,000 to 2,500 live births.

If I do the math right (using 1/2000), that means that only about 150,000 people in the United States have webbed toes, which is almost certainly too small a number to make it worthwhile to make a four-toed version of Vibram fivefingers.

So what's a webbed toe individual to do?

Modify your fivefingers to make them into Vibram fourfingers!

One webbed-toe individual named Philip saw fivefingers and had an idea on how he could modify them to work with his webbed feet. First, below is what Philip was working with:

Philip's idea was to cut a U-shaped slit between the two toe pockets that matched up to his pair of webbed toes. The cut needed to go slightly higher than the actual webbing between the two toes were webbed. From there, all that was left to do was to sew together the cut fabric across the toe gap. For this, Philip had help from his significant other who used monofilament nylon thread to join the two toe pockets.

Do that and here is what you get:

V4F Sprints modded for webbed toes

In Philip's own words: "I snip the fabric from the inside using sharp scissors, cutting slightly further than the webbing of my toes. We use nylon monofilament thread to sew the edges back together."

Philip has had such success with this modification that he's also made KSO fourfingers:

As you can see, there is a solution for those of you out there who want to wear Vibram fivefingers but have some amount of webbing between your toes! Mind, it's probably a tough pill to swallow to have to slice into your Vibrams, and your mileage may very in performing this mod.

To conclude, Philip's "Vibram Four Fingers" mod is very workable solution—the only solution I've seen—to wearing fivefingers with webbed toes. I want to thank Philip for allowing me to share this on birthday shoes**!

* A "bummer" only because it overtly eliminates the ability to wear Vibram fivefingers, of course. Webbed toes are actually kinda cool as they are a fascinating reminder of the diversity that frequently lurks unseen within our DNA.

** Philip originally posted this solution to the minimalist runner google group. I asked him if I could share this "at large" on birthdayshoes.com and he graciously accepted.

More on the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila (2010 Catalog Photos)

05.06.10 - The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila is out!

Don't ask me how, but I have managed to get my hands on a couple images of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila that were taken from the 2010 catalog, which was on-hand at the recent Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. These images show off one color option each for the men's and women's fivefingers Bikila!

The men's VFF Bikila is grey/green, a color combo which bears a striking resemblance to the grey/green KSO:

And the women's Bikila pictured is orange/pink/grey soled:

The above (apparently) stock photos do the Bikila more justice than the original overhead (cameraphone?) photo we saw via voycontigo. In short, these Bikila's look awesome.

Things I notice:

  • more aggressive tread — reminds me a bit more of the soles you might see on a running shoe. It's partially obscured, but it looks like the focus of the tread takes its lead from the midfoot pad of the foot.
  • heel structure — I don't know what else to call this, but there is a distinctive lip around the lower ankle of the Bikila. Perhaps this is to provide sufficient adherence to the heel (and account for the elimination of a rear strapping mechanism). I also wonder if the bit of added material here won't help with wicking moisture away or at least absorbing it. Based on looking at these photos, I don't get the impression that this heel design actually provides any real ankle support.
  • thin fabric throughout — like the KSO, the upper fabric looks to be a very thin material.
  • some sorta protective covering on the toes — don't know how else to describe the shimmery bit I see on each toe (particularly noticeable on the women's). Maybe this is reflective material? Maybe it provides some structure to the thin fabric toe upper? Your guess is as good as mine.
  • reflective material on the strap — I think I see silverish reflective material on the little dashes on the right side of the strap. This would make sense in light of the Bikila being geared to on-street running.

All in all, like the upcoming fivefingers Trek is geared to trail running or hiking, the fivefingers Bikila seems to be designed to compliment street/asphalt/concrete running. It's exciting to see that Vibram is expanding their line and taking a concerted stab at providing a VFF running solution!

Of course, it's going to take some time for Vibram to gear up and get the Bikila's out on the street, so I for one am already looking forward to 2010!

I wonder how many times we can twiddle our toes to pass the time until then ...

Other posts regarding new models:

Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!

Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!
Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!
Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!

click any image above for a larger version!
The above photos were recently taken at the wedding of Jason and Suzi. These two lovebirds got married in the Great Sand Dunes Park and Preserve in Colorado. The wedding was simultaneously immense in scenery and intimately serene (As you can see from the pictures). And since high-heels and cap-toe shoes just don't work well in sand dunes (and hey, these two are both big VFF fans), Suzi and Jason wore their Vibram fivefinger Sprints and KSOs, respectively.

Maybe one day Vibram will come out with some patent leather VFFs for gents in need of five-toed dress shoes and sequin and/or rhinestone-covered VFFs for the ladies. If they ever do, I'm sure we'll cover it here.

I asked both Jason and Suzi to share with us about the experience, here is what Suzi had to say:

Earlier this month, Jason and I got married at the Great Sand Dunes Park and Preserve in southern Colorado, wearing our FiveFingers. It was a beautiful, small ceremony; we were married by our close friend, who was ordained specifically for our joyous occasion. Two other great friends also helped us celebrate. (We surprised the rest of our family and friends, to say the least...) It was a wonderful day, and we are very happy to be married!

As to our choice of footwear...

I wear my FiveFingers everyday, everywhere. I can't stand any other shoes anymore. So when it came time to pick out shoes to wear for the wedding, and nothing in any of the stores, magazines, and catalogs came close to being comfortable and practical, we decided FiveFingers would be fine. A good choice? I wouldn't say that. The sand was VERY hot, and I thought several times that my FiveFingers had indeed melted into the soles of my feet. (I can't imagine Jason's pain, his KSO's being black). Even still, it was great feeling the sand between my Vibram'd toes.

We appreciate all the support we have found online, from you and the good folks over at marksdailyapple.com. (Quite a few relatives and friends have been critical of our "shoe" choice). Thanks!

Suzi

Suzi donning her grey VFF Sprints in the sand dunes after her wedding to Jason

Jason and Suzi, I think I can speak for the rest of us here when I say, "Congratulations on a beautiful wedding!" No doubt the relatives will come around to your wise and ahead-of-your-time-thinking with regards to your footwear. And as for the location, no wedding decorator could have done a better job!

Thank you both for sharing! Best wishes!

Walking off into the dunes after getting married in VFFs

The Skinny on the FiveFingers Moc and Performa a.k.a. "Glove" for men and women

On the shoulders of the recent news about new models fivefingers Bikila (arriving in 2010) and fivefingers Speed (a European 2010 release), I have learned some information regarding the new models Vibram fivefingers Moc and Performa which should pique the interests of yoga, Pilates, and martial arts advocates (as well as all VFF fans!) who desire even greater foot and toe flexibility.

The Moc and Performa are the male and female versions, respectively, of what we have been thinking of as the fivefingers "Glove," as it was called on voycontigo.de back in June.

On the Vibram FiveFingers Moc

According to sources close to the subject, aside from merely having gender-specific names (and likely color options), the Moc has a slightly higher "vamp*" than the Performa, which lends it a slightly more masculine appearance. If you'll revisit the original picture of the Moc, you might notice the front lip (vamp) does appear a bit longer as compared to Classic fivefingers:

It's a subtle difference, but if you gauge based on the length of the big toe pocket (or the second toe) relative to the termination of the vamp and then look at a pair of Classics and make the same comparison, you can tell a small difference. As I think about it, I think this small change could make a fairly substantial difference from an aesthetic point of view. Of course, it'd be nice to see some Mocs on an actual foot!

On the FiveFingers Performa

What about the Performa? Thankfully, the folks over at KayakShed have posted a handful of photos and news taken from the recent Outdoor Retailer Trade Show that went down last week in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here's a snapshot of what KayakShed had to say:

We know many of you use your FiveFingers for yoga and pilates and Vibram clearly sees that too as there is an all new shoe specifically for indoor use. The Moc and Performa have a very lightweight, minimal sole on the bottom and very buttery leather on the top. These should make for a much more exciting holiday gift for all those folks you were thinking of getting slippers for!

What you might notice about the photo above is that the vamp doesn't go as high on the purple and orange models as in the earlier photo of the blue fivefingers Moc**.

The "buttery leather" referred to in KayakShed's description is the kangaroo leather. Since most of us aren't familiar with any leather other than the kind we get from cows, it's worth noting that Kangaroo leather is analogous to cowhide. In Australia, kangaroos free range and are used both for their meat and their hide (source Wiki). Word on the street is that kangaroo leather is known for superior breathability and is also sweat and salt resistant.

Oh and the Moc and Performa, despite using leather, are both still machine washable!

On the soles of the Moc and Performa

As you can see, the soles of both the Moc and Performa are the same. Employing an all-new pod-like sole design consisting of (as I count them) seven separate mini-soles should allow for increased flexibility between the various points of impact on the bottom of your feet. Though they are intended for indoor use only, I'm excited at the potential for increased toe and foot flexbility. Perhaps in the Moc I'll be able to easily pick things up off the floor with my toes, which though possible in existing VFF models, is still pretty difficult.

Available by mid-October for $110

The Moc and Performa are slated to be available for purchase by mid-October. But who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and they'll show up earlier.

Finally, you'll have to head over to the KayakShed blog for more information on what they saw at the trade show including a photo of a new color combo for men's KSOs, black VFF Sprints for women, and another photo of the Trek. Thanks, KayakShed!

* Refers to the front upper part of a shoe, as in that which covers the front top of your foot!

** You have to look very carefully at this photo, but in addition to the three models in the foreground, which are purple, blackish (upside down, sole up), and orange, you can barely make out two more models in the background. Once you can distinguish these two (one on the right being blue and upside down - like the topmost photo on this post), notice the vamp on the black one: that's the men's Moc!

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 7/26/09

This weeks reviews, including a video review from forum member kakez!

I've seen a huge increase in the number of spam-like sites writing about fivefingers. Tthese are sites trying to game search engine results — you know them because they'll have 10 advertisements plastered around some vague copy that marginally relates to VFFs. Needless to say, I am not going to include their reviews in the weekly write-up. Wouldn't want to encourage bad behavior!

Running a 5-mile race in Vibram 5 Fingers

Running a 5-mile race in Vibram 5 Fingers
Running a 5-mile race in Vibram 5 Fingers
Running a 5-mile race in Vibram 5 Fingers

Above pictured is Ryan (#32), his brother (#31), and friend. The photos were taken during and after they all completed a recent 5 mile race in their Vibram 5 Finger KSOs in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Here's Ryan on racing in V5Fs:

On July 18, 2009 my brother, friend and I participated in Lynchburg, VA’s local 5 mile race. We all ran in Vibram KSO Five Fingers.

My brother and I (the two in the blue) have trained pretty much exclusively in the Vibrams using Crossfit.com as our workout program. My friend in the green trained in Nike Frees or the Vibram Five Fingers.

All 3 of us finished the race in around 40 minutes, which was off the pace, but we hope to improve as this was our first 5 miler. We have run a few 5Ks in the past using the Vibram Fivefingers. Post-race my brother and I were a little sore in the calves, while my friend was sore for a few days post-race in his calves.

Ryan and his brother have been doing Crossfit in their VFFs now for a year and a half. Prior to picking up his fivefingerse, Ryan had tried running a 10K in regular shoes as part of a CF workout when he ran into some knee problems:

Near the end of the 10K I couldn't bend my right knee because of my IT band and I had terrible shin splints. After that I started researching and found "barefoot running" which lead me to VFFs. Since getting the VFFs my shin splints and IT band pain are gone.

I have now done about 10 5Ks in them and the 1 5 miler. I know my word-of-mouth has lead to 2 additional purchases and every races generates a lot of interest. I even did some trail running with the local running shoe store -- they were supportive, but not fans of the VFFs.

Good to hear you're having such success in your VFFs for both the intense-style workouts of Crossfit as well as running races or trails! Thanks for telling us your story.