User Stories

Running the Boston Marathon Under 2:30 (in FiveFingers)

I got the above photo and story below from Josh who recently ran the Boston Marathon—in under 2.5 hours, his personal best.

Josh emailed his success story despite some apprehension given the tragedy surrounding the bombing that occurred during the…

I got the above photo and story below from Josh who recently ran the Boston Marathon—in under 2.5 hours, his personal best.

Josh emailed his success story despite some apprehension given the tragedy surrounding the bombing that occurred during the event and I’m happy to share it below:

Birthday Shoes folks,

With some hesitation I wanted to bring you guys a Vibram FiveFingers success story.

As a quick background, I’ve been an exclusive VFF runner for the past 2.5yrs. Since transitioning over to FiveFingers I’ve taken 8 min off my half marathon PR (current PR- 1:10:57) and 59 min off my marathon PR (current PR- 2:29:55)

My most recent race was the Boston Marathon. I initially struggled to take satisfaction in what is, at this point, the peak of my running accomplishents. Though punctuated by sadness, I am choosing to take pride in the overwhelming demonstration of goodness that has been displayed by the running community. I am thankful for the chance to take part in such an amazing event that is the Boston Marathon. I am thankful that I had the chance to share this experience with my family and even more thankful that we were all fortunate enough to be out of harms way during the day’s events. I am thankful to be a part of such a positive community that is relentlessly reclaiming the good of the day.

Apologies for that aside. I will now return to my other soap box of VFF marathoning success stories.

Boston was my 3rd time running a full marathon and would be my second VFF marathon. I secured my qualifying time (2:35:40) the previous May and despite solid training I still had plenty of nerves coming into such a high profile race as an unseasoned marathoner (the half-marathon is my race of choice) and today I’m chasing a sub 2:30:00 finish. As I warm up, I am delighted to see a couple of others out there ready to take on 26.2 in FiveFingers. I compliment them in their shoe choice and wish them the best of luck.

My qualifying time was enough to secure a spot in the first starting corral and I line up 3 rows back from the front of the ‘general admission’ starting area, still a good 20 meters back from the elite starters, but close enough to assure an unimpeded start. Despite my best intentions to hold back for the first half of the race I cruise trough 13.1 at 1:12:57. I suppose the course doesn’t promote a negative split race anyways. My legs leave me at mile 22. I make it through the final four miles watching my well padded first half split creep ever closer to that 2:30:00 mark. As I work down the final stretch it becomes a desperate race against the clock. I pull every last ounce of energy from my legs and as I pass under the finishing clock I see it tick over 2:29:59, 2:30:00, 2:30:01…my spirits drop. I hobble along down what feels like an endless finish chute and meet up with my family. They have been keeping a watchful eye ony through the race with the convenience of their smart phones. It’s at this point I see my official time posted on their screens – 2:29:55.

I accomplished what I set out to do, a sub-2:30 marathon. More-so, a sub-2:30 marathon in VFFs. So many peers thought me crazy to be running a marathon in these odd foot-shaped strips of rubber but, at this point, I feel it would be crazy for me to run it any other way. As I prepare for my now 4th Marathon I will have FiveFingers under my feet for every step.


Congratulations, Josh. Your time is an incredible accomplishment and I’m glad you decided to share it with us all despite the rippling wake of sadness from what happened. I’m glad you and your family were okay.

There’s not much that can be said about the tragic events in Boston that hasn’t been said already and I feel for things like this words just fail, anyway. So I’d just like to point out that Boston Magazine commissioned a fantastic photo for the cover of their magazine. If you haven’t seen it, take a look and read more about the cover here.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

9 replies on “Running the Boston Marathon Under 2:30 (in FiveFingers)”

Congratulations Josh, what an achievement.

Can anyone tell me what VFF’s he is wearing im struggling to make them out.

congrats – much to be proud of josh
i’m doing marathon #2 in my seeyas on 5/5 @ the new jersey marathon
did my first in philly last fall (5:17)
your time is so impressive to a runner like me
but its all about the ‘personal goals’
trying for under 5 hours this time
awesome job again

I just want to say how inspiring this is and although I am not as fast I am now finding I am achieving great results.

I do not know about Josh but I feel almost invincible.

I have to say it was not any easy transition but I can now say it is worth it having knocked 10 mins of my PB wearing a pair of Xeros

Congratulations, Josh! That’s a great time and I love hearing about folks running healthy races in minimal shoes.

I’m also really happy to hear from runners who are proud of their race even after the tragic events in Boston. An awesome post all around!

i only always run with VFF and i must say that the vibram classic will not be too comfortable for long distances whilst the lontra is extremely comfortable for long distances. so it’d be interesting to know which ones Josh used

Thank you all for the kindness and best of luck in all of your minimalist running endeavors!

For those that were curious, my VFF shoe of choice is the Bikila LS. I’ve done many half-marathons, a couple full, and a 12hr in them and they have felt great at all the distances.

I look forward to bringing you all more VFF success stories in the future. Thanks again.

It looks as if he is wearing the Bikala LS VFF. I bought them for running too but the left foot has a weird bump in the ball of the foot that causes crazy pain in my foot. So, I’m sticking with the Spyridons for running.

Congrats Josh! I host a podcast devoted to evolutionary running and living, and would love to talk with you on an upcoming episode about your experience running if VFF’s. Let me know if we can talk. Go to for more info.

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