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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Robert Explores Grenada in Vibram Five Finger Sprints

Robert Explores Grenada in Vibram Five Finger Sprints
Robert Explores Grenada in Vibram Five Finger Sprints
Robert Explores Grenada in Vibram Five Finger Sprints

click any photo to see a larger version!

In the mailbag from the always-helpful Robert Allaway came his account of exploration (and relaxation!) around a resort in Grenada in his Vibram Five Finger Sprints. Here's Robert:

I went to Grenada WI last week - spent most of my time at La Source Resort. Brought both my black KSOs and blue Sprints, expecting to wear them everywhere. I actually ended up not wearing them very much, because the resort grounds were very clean and I ended up going barefoot 90% of the time! Very cool experience, and it's hard to readjust to wearing shoes to work every day... Anyway, I did wear my VFF's enough to snap a few pictures the couple times I ventured off of the resort grounds to explore the island (which I personally like better than "resort life").

I took a (long, windy) trip to Gran Etang Lake/Park - the lake is a crater of a volcano, and the surrounding area is rainforest (very rainy). From the lake I hiked to the visitors center along a very muddy but nice trail - I was surprised to find such a well maintained trail (after having driven the roads that day). Anyway, the visitors center was closed but I did see a Mona monkey (here it is just before it decided it didn't like the pineapple it was holding - it went for a piece of mango in the end) - the monkeys are very friendly! I also took a picture of my VFFs post hike, for reference.

Also, the camera I brought is waterproof, so I decided to try my Sprints out in the ocean. It was really good! The only problem was sand - the grit got inside of the shoe really easily while on the beach. I found the easiest way to remedy this is to put them on after getting in the water. Anyway, while they aren't as good as flippers for snorkeling, they're still pretty nice, and offer protection from stinging aquatic life (or urchins...)! Oh, and that last picture is one I took while snorkeling - its at an underwater sculpture park...creepy, but cool! Overall, it was a great trip and I'm glad I brought my VFFs so that I could try them out on new terrain - especially hiking as they were extremely comfortable.

Right up there with Michael's fivefinger Sprint testing in Hawaii, Robert's photos and rendition of Grenada make me want to go on vacation, but I may have to settle for the Discovery channel.

Thanks Robert!

Naree combines Vibram Five Finger Sprints with Scuba Fins

Naree combines Vibram Five Finger Sprints with Scuba Fins
Naree combines Vibram Five Finger Sprints with Scuba Fins
Naree combines Vibram Five Finger Sprints with Scuba Fins

A few days back Michael pondered snorkeling in his VFF Sprints on the forum. Lo and behold I got a few photos from Naree who has used his Five Finger Sprints to go scuba diving on trips to both the Bonaire islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Here's what Naree had to say:

I've been wearing Vibrams for a little over a year now, and recently discovered that you can even go scuba diving with them (sprints work best, because the strap provides a little cushion for the top of your foot when wearing finds). Here are some photos to prove it - the underwater one is from our trip to Turks & Caicos, the second one is the first day I tried them on with the fins (I was sitting on my NYC fire escape) and the third is from a trip to Bonaire.

Good to know that VFF Sprints work well with scuba fins! Thanks for sharing with the VFF fan community!

Brian Playing the Fife in Vibram Five Fingers

Brian Playing the Fife in Vibram Five Fingers

It's great to continue hearing (and seeing!) all the great things everyone is doing in their Five Fingers. Just in the mailbag came the above photo (Can you spot the guy in the grey Vibram Five Fingers Sprints?) and a note from Brian, who plays the fife! A fife is "a small, high-pitched, transverse flute that is similar to the piccolo, but louder and shriller due to its narrower bore" (Wiki). Think: marching. Like the guy on the right wearing the very uncomfortable boots:

Anyway, here's what Brian had to say about the photo:

Justin,

Last weekend I participated in the Deep River Ancient Muster, an annual fife and drum gathering, the largest of its kind anywhere. About 70 corps marched in the parade down the main street of Deep River, Connecticut, and performed before spectators and fellow musicians at Devitt's Field on the edge of town.

Costumes ranged from formal colonial regimentals and tricorn hats to come-as-you-are shorts and t-shirts . My group was comprised of alumni members of the distinguished Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps from Williamsburg, Virginia, and we marched in t-shirts from last year's 50th anniversary of the corps.

I was undoubtedly the only one at Deep River wearing Vibram FiveFinger Sprints. (see picture)

Actually, barefooting seems alive and well in small town Connecticut. There were dozens of people among the crowd in their original birthday shoes, some marching, and at least one whole corps, the Bluff Point Quahog Diggers, who performed barefoot.

Brian

What a great report. It's good to hear about activities like this where people come together to enjoy music and performance — and do so barefoot!

As I write this, I'm listening to a song Brian wrote that I found on his website—it seems Brian sings and plays guitar, too.

Thanks for sharing, Brian!

Sarah Dances and Putt-Putts in her Classic Vibram Five Fingers

Sarah Dances and Putt-Putts in her Classic Vibram Five Fingers
Sarah Dances and Putt-Putts in her Classic Vibram Five Fingers

Got a couple pictures in the mailbag from Sarah. What's great about her "birthday shoe shots" is that they speak to just all the different types of things you can do in your "veebram"* five fingers, including putt-putt or dancing at a wedding reception. Here's what Sarah had to say:

Just thought I would share 2 photos with you. The first is from my sisters wedding that occurred on July 11th. Even though I wore silver shoes for the wedding and bought some dr. scholls silver slippers that were on sale, my vibram's were calling my name half way through the reception so I put them on. Let me tell you, they are awesome to dance in. I wanted to wear them for the wedding but couldn't since they weren't silver.

The second picture is of my brother and I at a putt putt course. Once he saw my shoes he wanted to try some on, luckily we have a store right in our town that carries them. So now we can both be cool together. ^_^ He delivers pizza and isn't able to wear them on the job since they are supposed to where tennis shoes, and he told me how sad he is when he has to wear "normal" shoes since he can't feel the ground with his toes.

Thanks for sharing, Sarah! Maybe Vibram will eventually come out with some bling-ed out silver or gold VFFs with a few rhinestones for extra sparkle. Or maybe some patent leather wing tip fivefingers for the guys. Does kangaroo leather come in shiny black?

* That's the phonetic spelling. Most of us think "V-eye-bram" like "vibrate" but this is an Italian company, so if you want to sound sophisticated, say it, "veeeeebram;" I flip-flop and often say it both ways. It's confusing!

Michael and Lindsey take FiveFingers to Hawaii

Michael and Lindsey take FiveFingers to Hawaii
Michael and Lindsey take FiveFingers to Hawaii
Michael and Lindsey take FiveFingers to Hawaii
Michael and Lindsey take FiveFingers to Hawaii
Michael and Lindsey take FiveFingers to Hawaii

It took around a year of proclaiming the merits of fivefingers before my sister and brother-in-law, Lindsey and Michael, finally caved and got matching pairs of VFF Sprints. Since then, Michael's been using his for various activities including running and kettlebells. Lindsey has been using hers primarily for yoga.

Less than a week ago, Michael and Lindsey returned from a vacation to Hawaii. Yes, I'm jealous, too. Being the pushy brother I am, I requested they document any travel use of their Vibram Five Fingers. Since they are great family (or they just don't want to hear me pester them!), Michael and Lindsey delivered the goods!

I specifically asked Michael to talk about his experience and here is what he had to say:

I recently visited Hawaii and from my wife's recommendation, I only took flip-flops (i.e. thong sandals) and VFFs. I planned to spend time at the beach and in the water, snorkel, play golf, and relax.

For some reason, I was extremely forgetful on this trip. This allowed for some interesting moments, starting with an early sunrise at Maui's dormant volcano, Haleakala. I somehow lost my fleece pants between the room and the car, so when we arrived at the volcano, I planned to freeze. Armed with my VFF's and a towel, I braved the cold and survived the sunrise, but not before trying to wear regular socks with the VFFs. Don't try this at home. Obviously, VFF sprints were not designed for warmth, so I don't recommend spending a lot of time at the top of a volcano where the winds are blowing and it's about 50 degrees.

I was concerned that I wouldn't be permitted to play golf in my VFFs. If you're not a golfer, you may not have experienced the sort of snottiness that you can find at golf courses. Many courses have a no jeans policy and require collared shirts. Some courses don't allow you to wear shorts. I was a little concerned that the VFFs wouldn't fly. Maybe Maui is relaxed, or maybe the staff was caught unawares, but I was able to get on the course with the VFFs (the couple with whom I was paired commented on the VFFs saying they had played the prior week with a local Hawaiian who played golf barefoot).

For most play, I did not even think about the fact that I was wearing the VFFs. Like most of your life wearing shoes, you only notice them when they're uncomfortable or they fail in some way, such as a rock in your shoe, a blister forming on your heels or toes, or when the shoe slips.

To my surprise, I absolutely forgot that I was wearing VFFs for the bulk of the golf game. The only time I thought about my shoes was when I was in the sand trap. Sadly, the VFF sprints are not suited for sand traps. I wound up in the sand a few times in my round of eighteen and managed to get quite a bit of sand in my shoes due to the trap. The sprints worked flawlessly on the tee, in the rough, on the fairway, and on the green. I highly recommend golfing in VFFs (but remember to put sunscreen on your feet - one of the few things I did not forget this trip).

KSO's might be better suited for golf given the fact that the open design of sprints (and probably classics) allows sand to get in the shoe. So unless you are good enough to stay out of the sand, I don't recommend sprints for your next round.

Prepare for another tale of forgetfulness. One of our days was spent taking a catamaran sailboat trip from Maui to Lanaii. I planned to wear my VFF sprints on the boat, then wear my flip-flops at the beach. You guessed it, the flip-flops didn't make the boat. The sand at the beach was blazing hot, so I couldn't go barefoot, so I was forced to try out the VFFs on the beach. When wet, just like your bare feet would, the VFF's pick up a lot of sand. You'll see from some of the pictures that the sand built up on the shoes, particularly around the toes. I was impressed, however, by how easily the VFFs came clean under the shower. I don't necessarily recommend VFFs for the beach because sand gets into the shoe, but in a pinch they perform satisfactorily on the beach. I wish I had tried snorkeling with them, but I didn't try out the sprints with fins.

Traveling to and from Hawaii (long flights; unpredictable temperatures at 30,000 feet), the sprints proved themselves to be comfortable and worked well. Although Justin had indicated that he sailed through security without being required to remove his VFFs, and even though the airport security in Atlanta, Georgia, the busiest airport in the world, let me sail through VFF-shod, I got busted on the return trip by the security in the airport in Maui.

Believe it or not, the Kahului airport security made me take of my VFFs to run them through the x-ray machine. I almost made it as the man standing in front of the walk-through contraption waved me through, but then the guard manning the conveyor belt said, "what are you wearing?" Thinking she was admiring my beautiful feet in the sprints, I happily explained the shoes. She then made me go back through the walkthrough and forced me to remove my fivefingers. She did joke about how it looked like feet passing through the x-ray machine.

So, VFFs will garner attention - perhaps too much if you're running late and want to try to speed through security without removing them. I'd say you've got a good shot at getting through, but you might have a curious security guard who'll stop you.

Great field testing, Michael, and thanks for sharing (And be sure to check out Michael's blog!).

TSA is definitely inconsistent in how they handle VFFers. I've had good luck passing through airport security unchecked while sporting my KSOs (and once in Classics), but have received mixed reports from others wearing Classics and now Sprints. It's a roll of the dice to try going VFF-"shod" through the airport checkpoint, but if you want to live dangerously, go for it!

Because there were so many photos as well as a couple of videos from Michael and Lindsey's Hawaii adventure, I threw together a video compilation and put it up on YouTube. The accompanying music is some song by the King of Hawaii. Enjoy!

[video:youtube:WI_kTmnyozo]

You might have noticed the photo in the video of Michael desperately trying to make a square peg fit in five round holes—a.k.a. trying to make regular socks work with the five-toed Sprints. I felt like this photo warranted a fivefingers-fail graphic. Kids, don't try this at home:

Now who wants to go to Hawaii and play some golf in their birthday shoes?

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 7/19/09

After last week's huge Wired.com reviews and articles, this week has been fairly quiet. Anyway, here are your latest Vibram five fingers reviews:

  • Vibram FiveFingers Run #1 and Run#2 from CaveWomanRunner:

    I did my speed intervals at a nearby schoolyard. I felt like a little kid, sprinting barefoot through the grass. At first I was worried about the bumps and holes in the yard, but I actually felt more in balance and stronger with the Vibrams. I could measure the ground more easily and felt more aware of changes and obstacles. With my puppies running next to me, I felt like I, too, had paws to feel the earth beneath me. Simply put, it was freeing.

  • Thin-soled Running Shoes* on Outside.com:

    It took me a while to get used to the VFF's simian appearance, but soon I began wearing them everywhere—walking my dog, going to the store, hiking nearby trails—much to the amusement of my fellow pedestrians. I still couldn't manage to run more than a few blocks in them, but I soon felt the actual bones, tendons, and ticklish soft spots under my arch getting stronger.

    *Though not quite a full-on review of VFFs, I thought the mention was good enough to include the article link here!

Previous week's reviews: