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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Merrell Barefoot 2011 Collection Sneak Peak!

Merrell Barefoot 2011 Collection Sneak Peak!

Thanks to our friends at The Shoe Mart, we've been given a sneak peak at the upcoming 2011 Merrell Barefoot line-up via some photos they've shared with us. The new Merrell Barefoot's feature a Vibram sole and will come in three varieties each for men and women (The Trail, True, and Tough Glove for men; the Power, Pace, and Pure Glove for women). We take a first look at this line-up after the jump!

» Read about the 2011 Merrell Barefoot line!

Finnish Girls Hike Alps in Toe Shoes

Finnish Girls Hike Alps in Toe Shoes

Sara and Eeva were ready to get the heck out of Finland after graduation, so it was off to the German Alps where they could hike through the snow in their Five Fingers. They sent us some pics and a summary of their trip:

We are two Finnish girls who after graduation wanted to travel somewhere and decided to go hiking, not in Finland, but in the Alps! During four days we hiked a total distance of 75 km from the village Lenggries to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Because of the rough terrain + an additional 12 kg on our backs we mostly had to wear hiking boots but when the trails were more road-like we didn't hesitate to slip into our Fivefingers and the change was a great relief to our feet!

The day the pictures were taken we did a 10 km downhill hike, in the middle of the otherwise 12 h long stage, Eeva wearing her Classics and me in my KSOs.

We also wore Fivefingers when we were at Germany's highest mountain, Zugspitze, and the glacier Zugspitzplatt.

75K in four days! Now that is a whole lot of hiking through what looks like tough but very beautiful terrain. Thanks so much for sending us your story from Europe and congratulations on graduating.

New Women's Vibram Five Fingers Trek Sport Available at CitySports!

New Women's Vibram Five Fingers Trek Sport Available at CitySports!

We've just learned that the new Five Fingers Trek Sport for women has been released and is available for purchase from City Sports! Not only that, but it is available in both colors: Champagne (pictured above) and Black (note the strap is likely more gray than black as in the picture).

The Trek Sport is a cross between a KSO and a KSO Trek. It combines the functionality of a fabric upper with the ruggedness of the Trek sole, which, up until now, has only been available on the KSO Trek. The upper is made of super comfortable and breathable Coconut Active Carbon material. This is an excellent choice for comfort, yet tough enough to take to the trails! Also, check out the "close up" review of the Five Fingers Trek Sport last week if you want to see what you get with his new model.

If you're looking to pick up the women's Vibram Trek Sport here are the links:

They sell for $99.99, which is over the free shipping threshold at City Sports!

Go to City Sports!

The 2011 Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport, Bikila LS (Laces!), and Jaya

The 2011 Vibram Five Fingers new toe shoes: Kids KSOs, Jaya, Jaya LR, Komodo Sport and Bikila LS!
The 2011 Vibram Five Fingers new toe shoes: Kids KSOs, Jaya, Jaya LR, Komodo Sport and Bikila LS!

Last week was the 2011 Outdoor Retailer conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Word has it—from various sources who scoured the booths—that the whole place was buzzing with talk about minimalist footwear. We recently heard about Merrell Barefoot and the New Balance Minimus (plus the aptly named Skin ... I mean, Inov-8 EvoSkin) — apparently other big names may also be working on their entries into the minimalist footwear fray. Stay tuned.

What's particularly exciting for us Vibram Five Fingers fans is that Vibram was showing off their 2011 line; specifically, the new fitness-oriented Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport; the larger-foot-friendly Five Fingers Bikila LS (It's got laces!); and the women's only lightweight fitness toe shoes, the Five Fingers Jaya and Jaya LR (Jaya with some leather).

Though Vibram wasn't letting anyone take photos at their booth at OR, I'm excited to share with everyone a sneak peak we're getting here at Birthday Shoes of this 2011 line-up. I've gotten my feet into some of the new 2011 models — sales samples / pre-production versions (also the women's models!). By extension, this week, I'll be posting tons of photos of these new 2011 models as well as some initial thoughts on them. As each goes up, you will be able to click through below to an information page (For now, you can click the other images to see big stock photos).

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The Boilermaker, Bikilas and Beer...a winning combination

The Boilermaker, Bikilas and Beer...a winning combination

Ryan runs in Vibram Five Fingers and says they, "simply made running fun again." He sent us a recap of his recent participation in "the nation’s biggest 15K road race."

Race Recap

This past weekend I took part in the nation’s biggest 15K road race - The Boilermaker - which is held in my hometown of Utica, NY. It was my 4th time running but my 1st time competing in Vibram Five Fingers. I’ve been practically living in my pair of KSOs since I purchased them in May of 2009 (well, at least when there wasn’t a foot of snow on the ground) and started my training for the 15K in them over the winter.

While I loved running in the KSOs, I was fortunate to snag a new pair of Bikilas in May. This changed everything. The Bikilas were even more comfortable than the KSOs and training was a blast in them. They provided a minimal layer of padding to help with the repeated impact of the pavement over 15K while still giving me the barefoot feel and flexibility.

This year’s Boilermaker was the largest in history with over 13,000 runners and an enormous post-race party at the Saranac Brewery (I can’t think of another road race where you get a free beer immediately after running it). The amount of spectators was also amazing and they really kept you going throughout the different sections of the course with water, music, and yes, even vuvuzelas.

I also noticed some other fellow VFF runners while at the starting gate as well as a one runner who was completely barefoot. The race itself was perfect this year from the temperature to a ton of volunteers who made sure the weekend’s events were memorable for both the runners and the spectators. It’s a weekend where our community really comes together and makes you proud to be a participant. As I crossed the finish I also broken my own personal best time, finishing in 1:20:08.

Lots of the discussion around barefoot running (and running in VFFs) has to do with running form and injury prevention. While these are all great benefits to leaving your sneakers behind, that’s not why I love them. For me, the tactile experience and flexibility simply made running fun again for me. It made me want to challenge myself, work hills, run for time and most importantly get out there and put some miles on. This was the first year I can remember enjoying my training regiment and consequently worked harder up to the race.

Combine that preparedness with the spectacle that is the Boilermaker and you have the perfect combination of competition and celebration. I can’t wait for the next 15K!

Thanks for sending us your story Ryan! Good luck on next year's race.

Close Up Review: Vibram Five Fingers Trek Sport

Close Up Review: Vibram Five Fingers Trek Sport
Vibram Five Fingers Black Trek Sports

Why Trek Sports?

Being the new kid (geriatric new kid, that is!) on the Birthday Shoes block, I only own two pair of Vibram Five Fingers, the Classics and Bikilas. My Classics don't get a lot of wear except as an occasional flip flop alternative (Justin's preferred use of Classic Vibrams) and my Bikilas are my "go to" running shoe. Though I dig the barefoot feel they give me, the Bikilas hurt my sensitive feet on the rocky trails around here—at least that was the excuse to convince my wife I needed another pair!

Since I don't own any "KSO type" Five Fingers, I only know what I have seen on the internet. I pictured the black KSOs as the alpha male, ninja, gorilla foot model. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. But, when I saw the Vibram marketing photos of the Trek Sports, they looked so cool and sleek. I manned up and ordered a pair (via CitySports). I ordered a size 41, the same as my others. They arrived quickly and in good order from CitySports shipped free using my "BIRTHDAY" shipping code.

I expected the Trek Sports to be somewhat bulky, but in fact, they weigh almost exactly the same as my Bikilas. And they are sleek, though perhaps not as sleek as in the Vibram marketing photo. I think they must stuff them with tissue paper or something. Also, mine arrived with a silver strap, which is different from the black one in Vibram's pic. Perhaps a little less Ninja, but now I can wear them to church with grey slacks!

My review and a zoomable flash movie after the jump!

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