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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New Balance NB Minimus Cross Review (MX20)

A few photos of the New Balance NB Minimus Cross (MX20).
A few photos of the New Balance NB Minimus Cross (MX20) in red and black.

For me the NB Minimus Cross (the "MX20") were "Like-At-First-Sight." When I first opened the box I grinned at the design. We've got simple, clean lines, no flashy distractions or garish colors, and a cool contrast from the upper to the sole. I actually said out loud “I dig it.” But would my initial impression of them stand up to further scrutiny? Find out after the jump!

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Branca Barefoot Running Sandals Review (Minimalist Sandals)

Branca Barefoot Running Sandals are a new type of minimalist sandal that features an innovative strap design (reminiscent of huaraches).
Branca Barefoot Running Sandals are a new type of minimalist sandal that features an innovative strap design (reminiscent of huaraches).

Fortunately for those interested in minimalist shoes, we're seeing not only an explosion in closed toed minimalist footwear, but we're also able to choose from an ever widening selection of open toed sandals inspired by the huarache sandals made famous in Born to Run. I've been running in Branca Barefoot running sandals or "Brancas" for a few months now, and I have found them to be excellent running sandals with several advantages over homemade huaraches.

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How to Walk Barefoot [FAQ]

An image of what it looks like to fox walk, a method of low-impact walking that may provide some answers to how to walk barefoot
An image of what it looks like to fox walk, a method of low-impact walking that may provide some answers to how to walk barefoot (Source: TrackerTrail.com)

"How do I walk barefoot?"

As folks transition to "toe shoes" or other minimalist footwear, a common question arises: how do I walk barefoot?

I received the following question in the mailbag yesterday:

Hi, my name is Ben and I'm a recent convert to Vibrams (black KSO's). I'm building up foot strength as well as calluses so I can run the NYC half marathon in them in August. I am also learning Pose running, which is very similar to running barefoot, as you land on your sole/midfoot.

I was wondering if you could run a poll or something asking how VFF wearer's walk in them. I notice that when walking in the VFF's, my heel strikes first, and since there is no real cushioning, it tends to hurt a little bit after a long walk, especially when walking around fast. Do people walk with their soles striking first? I've tried walking more softly, but when moving fast but not yet running, the heel strike feels noticeable.

Thanks and keep up the really cool site!

-Ben

Ben,

Thanks for writing in and you'll have to keep us updated on your half-marathon training a la POSE. I'd like to learn some POSE basics at some point!

As for your request for a poll, you got it. In fact, here are the results I've found from polling readers:

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More New Balance NB Minimus Zero Leaked Photos?

Building on the intentionally leaked (by New Balance PR), ultra-close-up photos of the upcoming 2012 New Balance NB Minimus (Trail) we saw a few weeks back comes new photos of the entire Minimus Zero Trail and Road shoes from a BirthdayShoes reader from China. Said reader alerted me to a Chinese website that appears to have photos of the upcoming New Balance NB Minimus Zero (Zero-Drop) Trail and Road running shoes.

2012 New Balance NB Minimus Zero Trail (my guess) teaser, close-up shots just leaked.  This is the first zero-dropped New Balance for their minimalist footwear/barefoot shoes line and a departure from their original 2010 installation, which featured a 4mm
2012 New Balance NB Minimus Zero Trail (my guess) teaser, close-up shots just leaked. This is the first zero-dropped New Balance for their minimalist footwear/barefoot shoes line and a departure from their original 2010 installation, which featured a 4mm heel-to-toe drop.

Above in the collage are official images of the NB Minimus Zero Trail — at least, that's our guess that it's the Minimus Zero Trail. Now, take a look at these images from China and see if they don't match up:

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Bormio Vibram FiveFingers Out!

Bormio Vibram FiveFingers Out!

The wait is over: zip-up toe boots — a.k.a. Bormio Vibram FiveFingers — are available for purchase at Travel Country! What more, if you "click through" and buy today through September 30, 2011 (midnight), you're eligible for a bonus bit of BirthdayShoes swag (see below for how this works but the gist is you have to click to TravelCountry via one of the links below and then send me your order number)!

I've reviewed the Bormio FiveFingers at length thanks to having had a pair to play with over the past few months. Here's my conclusion:

The Bormio FiveFingers are clearly aimed at a very niche fan of toe shoes who want to go almost-barefoot outside the gym, maybe in the workforce, and definitely in more casual atmospheres. Is that you? Want to wear VFFs that are a bit more sophisticated, push the boundaries of fashion, and encourage even more questions from curious onlookers? Want to boldly go where few have ventured outside the realms of Milan, Italy? Then, the Bormio is for you. It's also for you if you want a warmer option of toe shoes for cooler climates. I like mine well enough and outside of wearing them a good deal lately for this review, will be wearing them more as Fall (and then Winter) arrive.

They aren't cheap though — MSRP is $160, so prepare to drop a coin or two if you want a pair. And as for sizing, I'd put the fit as close to the KSO Trek, if not a hair roomier. My versions are pre-production, so sizing might vary for the final product. I'd expect to stay in a size 43 though (which is what I wear across the entire line).

a few photos from the review

Travel Country has the Bormio FiveFingers in both black and brown for $159.95 in sizes 40-47 (men's). And yeah, they ship free. Like I noted about sizing, I'm the same size Bormio as KSO Trek, Trek LS, Speed, etc. Though I'd say the Bormio (and other Trek varietal Vibrams) all size a little larger (exception: TrekSport) than VFFs that are Bikila-soled (Bikila, Bikila LS, Speed). Here is the full sizing chart for the Bormio straight from VibramFiveFingers.com (click to enlarge):

If you're going to drop the $160 on a pair of Bormio FiveFingers, I also recommend picking up one or two pairs of the Injinji Performance toe socks. They cost $10/pair which ain't cheap, but having one or two pairs on hand (er ... nevermind) is useful. There are two versions of the Injinji Performance that I recommend for the Bormio both of which are ankle height or higher — the mini crew or the crew. Either one works with Bormio VFFs, it's just that the crew will extend past the top of the Bormio ankle whereas the mini will rise to the top of the Bormio and no higher. These Injinjis are the new "micro liner" style toe socks and they are much, much better/more comfortable than the originals, which I honestly didn't care much for wearing (See Britt's review of the no-show Injinji performance toe socks). You can pick up mini Injinji performance/micro crews here and full height performance Injinji crews here.

If you missed this the first time around, the Trek LS FiveFingers are out, too. You can grab them at Travel Country for $139.95 and round out your Fall toe shoe collection while you're at it.

A pair of boot cut jeans (cut further on the sides) worn with the Trek LS Vibrams makes for a rugged, toe shod look, don't you think?
A pair of boot cut jeans (cut further on the sides) worn with the Trek LS Vibrams makes for a rugged, toe shod look, don't you think?

Limited Time Bonus!

If you buy a pair of FiveFingers Trek LS or Bormio FiveFingers from TravelCountry today (August 26) through end of September (Sept. 30) by clicking through from one of these links on this post, I will send you one of the classic BirthdayShoes stickers plus a yet-to-be-released new version of the BirthdayShoes sticker that is literally nothing more than the BirthdayShoes "5/foot" logo (sneak peak). Here's how to claim your sticker:

  • Click through to buy the Trek LS or Bormio from TravelCountry using one of the above links (Trek LS link | Bormio link).
  • Make a purchase!
  • Drop me an email (send to: justin at birthdayshoes.com) with your TravelCountry.com order number (It's a seven digit number) and your mailing address.
  • As soon as I see your order ship, I'll throw your two stickers in an envelope and drop them in the mail the next d