User Stories

Running in Stem Natural Origins Shoes and KSOs

This is a user submitted story that was sent to me by a forum member of ours. He wanted to share his experience training for and running in his first race.

First off, I want to say Special thanks to Elizabeth Chauncey of EastCan (www.eastcan.or…

This is a user submitted story that was sent to me by a Birthday Shoes forum member. Evan wanted to share his experience training for and running in his first race using minimalist footwear. What more, not only was this his first race but he had the opportunity to run it in a pair of KSO Vibram FiveFingers and Stem Footwear Natural Origins — this is the first user story we’ve featured with someone wearing (and running!) in Stem shoes!

How did he fare in the race? Find out after the jump!

First off, I want to say Special thanks to Elizabeth Chauncey of EastCan ( for allowing me this amazing chance to take part in my first race.

I had started out with my C25K (Couch to 5k) about six weeks ago, because I have had a real interest in running since I began to find out about Vibram’s, and minimalist running. Now, I have to say, those first few runs, very very difficult, to the point where I wanted to stop; However, I didn’t, I fought through it and got to week five day 3 which was 20 minutes straight running. I tried to do that earlier that morning, and only made it to about 12 minutes. I had never skipped a day of the plan in all my preceding days and I wasn’t going to let this run be the time I did. So I went back out later that night, got to 20 minutes, and then decided to test myself. Ultimately making it all the way to 27 minutes. Which gave me the bright idea to do a 5k race, a month before my plan was set to be finished. The week coming up to the race, I kept telling myself I would go out and run. That I needed to run, since I hadn’t even ran the 3 miles in my life. Well, I never went out for that run…

It all started about three pm, We headed out from our tiny little town towards Murfreesboro, about an hour long trip. Meaning I would have about 45 minutes to get my number and prepare for my race… If only I was so lucky… We got to the ‘boro and could NOT find where we were supposed to go. We stopped at a gas station asked the guy in there where Gateway Blvd. was, he didn’t know. He suggested we ask at Hardee’s, so we went there, asked the woman at the counter, and she didn’t know either. I went back to the car, frustrated as I could possibly be, checking my watch, 20 minutes to find where I need to be. We went to Toots, and I still had the same luck. Soon there after, I returned to the car and my mom said she believed she knew where we were supposed to go, and surprisingly, she was right (sorry mom :P). We got there, asked around and I found where I was supposed to go to get my number, went and got it and the rest of the night was in front of me.

My shoes, and my supporters shoes haha

Now on to what I dressed as, I started in with my Vibrams with a pair of sweat pants, the long sleeve shirt they handed out, number on front, the sign for my blog, and footwear choice on my back. With my Stem Natural Origins on my hips, giving I wanted to switch from my Vibrams halfway through to see how each shoe did in a race environment. Face covering for mouth and nose for warmth, ear coverings for much of the same, which turned out to be too much much covering. The night was still young, sun still up when the young kids started their race. they finished about three minutes later since it was only a fourth of a mile. Afterwards, the Dj called for all 5k participants to follow the HobNob truck, which no one could figure out what the hell that was. Someone eventually figured it out, and we all followed like sheep. For some reason I got up towards the front of the pack, a big no no for beginners. I started heading back, and ran into a barefooter, we had a short conversation about the joys of barefoot and minimalism, I started moving back once again, but then the blow horn sounded off. No more time to move back..

So I started jogging since it was too crowded to run 222 participants. I had made it about half way back maybe 3/4ths, so that would have to be good enough. I got a little cocky, wanting to get into my stride without bumping shoulders so I hopped,sprinted, bobbed and weaved my way through the crowd of people. Trying to find room for myself. I think I used a bit too much energy trying to burst out of the gate. Because I felt a little drainage at bits and pieces of my run and a little heavy breathing. But I finally burst out, getting free and settled into my stride, passing a few people here and there. I noticed a familiar sound and a familiar stride and look, realizing the person in front of me wore Vibrams. So I sprinted up to her and complimented her footwear choice. She did like wise for me and I stayed with her chatting a little here and there. Soon I found my feet beginning to get a little tired, so I pulled over for a quick breather and an attire change.

I stopped to change my shoes. Into my Stem Footwear Natural Origins. And I have to say. I truly think those are the shoes I will be running in for now on. They have the best barefoot feel, while not feeling every pebble. The slight addition of cushioning allowed me to continue through my race, in greater comfort than my Vibrams. Best thing is, it still allowed me to keep my forefoot/midfoot strike with the greatest of ease. I seriously cannot rave enough about these shoes. But they saved my feet. I switched, got up, and took off running again. trying to reclaim the loss in time, without killing myself. It felt great I got about half way in grabbed a cup of water, drinking it, thinking to myself ‘Okay, so is there a trash can? Or do I toss it like they do in movies and television?’ I turned the corner, and my question was answered, I tossed my cup and continued to run.

Sadly there was a person injured sitting on the curb, and I assumed the guy next to her was her hubby or boyfriend, but either way a guy came walking down asking if anybody saw an injured person and the woman closest to me said I don’t know. We began chatting and I told her this was my first race, and she said she had completed a half marathon 2 months earlier. I had forgotten to set my watch for distance and time which was frustrating. So she told me we had under a mile to go which renewed the vigor in every step. I stayed with her up until the last eight of a mile when I heard people calling out from ahead saying “ONE MORE TURN ONE MORE TURN!!!!!!!!!” So I threw it into overdrive and started an all out sprint. passing one, two, three people. Getting to the turn hearing people cheer some what with YEAH!!!! FASTER!!!! I can only imagine what was running through their minds when they saw some guy running that fast at the end of the race. Two more people insight, past the closest, working to the other, who I found out was 12 years old and found myself 6 seconds too late. In the end, it was one of the best experiences I could have ever had for my first race.

Directly after the race, Face mask on my wrist, Vibrams on my hip Stems on my feet!

I just recently got my stats for the race, which is:
126th place out of 222
16th in my age group (0-19)
with a time of 33:28.1

Not bad for a first run, hoping to decrease my times next race hopefully under thirty minute.

I want to thank Evan for sending me his story. Hope you found it inspirational/informational. It is always nice to read a story about someone following through with a goal. Not a bad finish either for a first race. I know I would not be able to fair as well.

Part of the mission here at BirthdayShoes has been to document these fan experiences in the words and photos of the wearers — if you’ve got some great photos of you doing what you do in your Vibram Five Fingers, consider sending them in (learn more) and sharing with the community!

By Robert

Robert Barr resides in Woodinville Washington. He is an avid FiveFingers enthusiast who enjoys writing about his experiences in minimalist footwear. After graduating from the University of Washington with a BFA in Photography he started [url=]Washington Home Tours LLC[/url] a local real estate photography company. He also enjoys being a [url=]Scentsy[/url] consultant. At the moment his favorite pair of FiveFingers are his Bormio boots. Get to know Robert better via [url=]his interview here[/url].

8 replies on “Running in Stem Natural Origins Shoes and KSOs”

Awesome! Big props for getting out there and running your first race.

I’m in the same boat for the whole running thing, but a much later bloomer. Ran my first race (warrior dash) at 36.

I’ve ran more this year than I ever have before in my life, and it feels good. Still using fairly normal shoes, but doing nothing but forefoot strikes for all my runs. With it being winter the transition to seriously minimalist shoes may need to wait a bit.

I agree. My Stems are far more comfortable than the VFFs. In fact, I have given all my shoes, including the VFFs, to Goodwill. Other than my steel-toed boots, my two pairs of Stems are my only footwear. (FYI: I took those steel-toed boots to a boot repair shop and had the guy remove the heel and shank. The boots are now zero-drop.)

I actually took my Stems out for a run recently because it was a bit too cold for my VFF’s. I have to say, I really, really liked them for running!

Yeah I truly think my stems saved my race, but I have to say there is nothing like having toes visible like with vibrams, stems dont look like they are different from other shoes, for some, that is a good thing. However, when I attempt to open peoples eyes to minimalism toes do the trick!

I got a pair of Stems a couple of months ago. I love them! Better than my Vibrams and Puma H-Streets. My new favorite shoe.

Glad to hear about running in Stems. I tried several pairs of VFFs, but my different sized feet don’t work with those. I found out about Stems from here a month or two ago and picked up a pair a few weeks ago.

Has anyone run in their Stems for several months? How are they holding up?

I got my stems in September and have been running steadily in them since, as well as wearing them constantly as a regular shoe. They’re still in great shape, and I couldn’t be happier with them. I’d been running barefoot, and balked slightly at paying $100 to get a shoe that felt like running barefoot, but I think they were totally worth it.

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