We recently interviewed Ultra Marathoner and barefoot runner, Patrick Sweeney, who, in what may be the fastest marathon ever run in Vibram Five Fingers, recorded an awesome time of 2:37:14 winning the Palos Verdes Marathon. He ran in Vibram Five Fingers Sprints.
How did you get into Ultra Marathons and barefoot running?
I picked up Ultra running a few years ago and was hooked. I had a really good rookie year in 2008 and had high hopes for 2009 only to be plagued with injury. I decided something needed to change. I gave up running shoes cold turkey. I have been running in Vibram fivefingers or nothing at all. My body has been getting stronger everyday.
Congratulations on your recent marathon victory at Palos Verdes. It was very fast at 2:37:14. Do you know how it ranks among the fastest marathons ever run in Vibram Five Fingers?
Thank You. I have no freaking clue. But the race came real easy, I would guess it’s the fastest for now but I’m sure some kid will beat it this summer. Palos Verdes is a very hilly course for a marathon. It’s not a place where most people will P.R. I think I could go about 10 minutes faster on a flat course like Long Beach which I will run in October, but by that time I may be running barefoot instead. I bet we will see a sub 2:15 sometime in the next year, but definitely not by me.
You beat your personal best marathon time by 17 minutes. What contributed to the dramatic improvement?
A positive attitude. I’m excited not to be injured anymore. My training is just starting to come together for the San Diego 100 miler. I was just out there to have fun and I was smiling almost the whole entire race.
We read on your blog that you train mostly barefoot on sand. Why is this and do you have any trouble adjusting to other surfaces and terrains in your races?
I live near the beach in Southern California. I pay lot of money in rent for this privilege, so I take advantage of it as much as possible. 10 to 15 mile barefoot soft sand runs are my bread butter. I never run hills and almost every Ultra is in the mountains. The soft sand prepares me well for climbing, but my quads suffer while running downhill for miles at a time. I do really enjoy the way Vibram’s let me feel the trail beneath my feet.
Do you mostly train barefoot, but run races in Vibram Five Fingers?
I’m Barefoot for about 80 to 90 percent of my training. When a race nears I’ll slip on the Vibram’s a few times. I wear my Treks if I go hiking and my normal KSOs for going out at night. I have not worn a running shoe since Halloween.
You have the San Diego 100 mile race scheduled for June and are planning on wearing KSO Treks. Why did you chose Treks for that race?
Right now the Trek’s are my best option. I ran the Leona Divide 50 miler last month in a pair and they held up quite well. I had no troubles at all on the technical parts of the trail. My only complaint is that they don’t breathe very well. After the race I had no blisters but my feet looked like they had been soaking in water for the last 8 hours. I don’t think Vibram has made the perfect shoe as of yet, but they are on the right track.
Later in the summer you are pacing in the Badwater Ultra Marathon from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA. That sounds like a grueling race. Is is hard to stay hydrated?
I paced a double Badwater last year and had a great time. Staying hydrated is super easy when you have a good crew. Runners are pampered like you wouldn’t believe, but in these extreme conditions it is definitely needed.
Will you be wearing VFFs at Badwater?
I’ll be using my Sprints for the shoe melting asphalt, and my Treks for climbing Whitney. I also plan on using my home made huaraches sandals.
As an ultra marathoner, you consider a marathon a short race. What is your favorite distance?
Marathons are quick fast races. You know your not going to be out running all day, you need to start flying from the beginning and hope to hold on to the pace till the end. I don’t have a favorite distance but it is fun to see the sun rise and set during the same run.
How have Vibram Five Fingers been received by your fellow runners and friends?
During P.V. last week I saw some other runners looking at my feet before the race. I don’t think they expected me to beat them. During the race I saw a lot of people smiling when they saw my Sprints. People were very enthusiastic about the Vibrams after the race as well. The five fingers have gone mainstream and most people seemed to have already heard of them. Many of my friends either already have a pair or plan to by them in the future.
Have you had any unusual experiences while wearing them?
I play a lot of disc golf in my Five Fingers. I plan of setting the world record of most holes played in a 24 hour span sometime this summer. Somewhere around 1,000 holes and 100k worth of traversing. I’m toying with idea of devoting this whole next year of training towards running a sub 6 hour Comrades marathon in South Africa wearing Five Fingers. I think I am currently over an hour away from that pace but I think I’m up for the challenge.
Can you tell us about your blog name, “Bourbon Feet – Testing the mind, body and liver”?
I enjoy experimenting with what I am capable of. My Feet keep me strong and sipping Bourbon makes me happy. Also, the domain name happyfeet was already taken.
How does drinking fit in with being an ultra marathon runner?
Beer provides excellent calories for working out. Some of my best runs have occurred when I left the house inebriated. Every 4th of July I compete in the Hermosa Beach Iron Man. It involves running one mile on the beach, paddling a surfboard one mile and then pounding a six pack of beer. I’ve got my drinking down to under four and half minutes. This race has inspired me to put together my own event. The plan is 10 beers, 10 taco’s, ten miles. One beer and one taco must be consumed before starting your next mile. The goal is to finish in under 100 minutes. Sometime in the next week I will do a shorter six beer, six taco, six mile training run with a few friends. I would love to also run a 50 on nothing but beer. (Vote on how far you think you would make it in Partrick’s race in this weeks poll!)
Follow Patrick Sweeney as he tests the extreme limits of human endurance on his blog at http://bourbonfeet.blogspot.com/. Also, see his training log at the dailymile.com, where Patrick uses a Garmin 310XT and uploads all of his workouts there.
Thank you very much, Patrick.