Where are people with quick-twitch muscles supposed to find spiritual athletic fulfillment?
So you've read Born to Run, deliberated on the merits of evolutionary biologists over podiatrists, stared in fascination/horror the first time you saw a dude wearing Vibrams. The idea of minimalist running infected you, and when you close your eyes you imagine yourself running over natural landscapes, bare feet padding -- no heel striking! -- over dirt and pine needles through virgin forest. The manna of the Earth gushes between your toes. Or gliding along city sidewalks and asphalt, it makes no matter, because as Chris McDougall and Lady Gaga will tell you: you were born this way. Fat, padded running shoes, in your new foot paradigm, are ridiculous at best and irresponsible at worst.
And so you're part of this remarkable renaissance in runner's footwear. People everywhere are racking up miles in 10K's, half-marathons, full marathons, and even ultras. And therein lies the primary characteristic of the minimalist running revolution: lots and lots of miles.
But to a sprinter, which is how I self-identify as a runner, the whole minimalist wave seems a bit strange when you look at any track shoe: a slab of thin material underfoot (albeit with metal spikes) with a light upper. I always hated putting on those awkward 'running' shoes when we did distance work on the street. I always felt like I was going to turn an ankle on those platform shoes before making it back safely. So for me, the move to minimalist was not so much re-aligning with my hunter gatherer self, but simply putting back on the shoes I liked anyway.
Since long distances are not really my thing -- you could fairly say I suck at them -- but minimalist footwear IS my thing, I'm always interested in other ways to gain pleasure out of my mocs besides running for one or two mindless (or Zen-like, depending) hours. I've messed around with them for basketball quite a bit (maybe that could be the subject of another post), and I use them for track work... but this year I heard about an event that portended some serious moc joy. The Warrior Dash!
First of all, I liked that it had the word 'Dash' in the name. Already you know this is not some grind it out race where you're popping energy gels and other NASA food as you pass the same dilapidated barn in the morning, the afternoon, and evening. A dash is short, fast, and furious.
The Warrior Dash is actually bit over three miles, so it's not really a dash, but it's only 3% of a hundred miler. And then there's all the other stuff: the fire, the barbed wire, the obstacles, the warrior costumes, and the mud, mud, mud, mud. Running in the Warrior Dash is like being an extra on the set of Braveheart or Conan the Barbarian. You are expected to let your inner ferocity shine through as you attack the series of obstacles along the course. Thus there is a lot more shouting, more horned helmetry, more kilts, more flesh, more flesh painting, and more beer swilling than at your average 10K. Among the short list of items you are supposed to bring to the race according the information packet is 'guts.' It's like that.
(And an event like the Warrior Dash can't escape the wrath of irony: there was a guy running in a business suit with a briefcase, some women in bridesmaid or prom dresses, and legions of faeries and butterflies.)
For the race, I decided (obviously) to wear the DASH RunAmoc. In addition to the name symmetry, it has the most secure lacing of the three RunAmoc varieties and I knew I'd be running through a mud bog that might suck at my feet. (I was not mistaken.) The Dash is also the shoe I use for track workouts and basketball because it doesn't move around on my foot. My pair has the trail sole.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the race course (fast, crowded, muddy) it's difficult to get photos of the obstacles, even when a fellow Elf is toting a camera (and two small children). Well, a thousand words is worth a picture. The first obstacle is a jump into a cold, muddy pond strewn with logs that you have to belly over. I tore my race bib at this first obstacle. Several obstacles were tall wall-like structures, I'd guess around twenty feet high, that you clamber over with the help of a rope, or maybe just with your guts. There was a large, thick-roped cargo net to scramble across (or roll across, as some did). Another obstacle was a field of tires to high-step through as in a football drill, and more tires were used in a different obstacle where they were hanging from an overhead structure and you had to bull through them (which had the delightful side effect of bonking anyone next to you). At another place there were a series of raised platforms like a checkerboard, but with gaps between the squares so you had to jump from one to the next. The last mid-race obstacle I can recall was a series of chest-high walls to leap or scramble, each immediately followed by an obstacle to duck under.
The final obstacles are the ones most associated with the Warrior Dash -- a running leap over fire and then a long slide into a bog, where you belly crawl through brown muck under low-strung lines of barbed wire.
Yes, it is as fun as it sounds. I could not help from grinning as I charged the various obstacles.
My Dashes were awesome. Some people had some issues with shoes pulling away in the mud at the bottom of the pond (first obstacle), and the heel of my left Dash pulled away a bit as I leapt to roll over one of the logs, but it was never really a scare. For all the obstacles where we had to climb stuff, I think the Dashes were superior to all the 'normal' shoes because my feet were able to feel and conform to the various surfaces (often two-by-fours). Also, I find that mocs in general (and the Dash, in particular) have good lateral stability, which is good for ankle-rolling obstacles like the field of tires and for jumping off of stuff.
I should note that the race was well-populated with Vibram Five Fingers, including a pair on the dude dressed as Luigi from Mario Brothers with whom I tangled up sliding into the mud bog.
I would do this race again even if I wasn't awarded with a horned fur helmet, a beer, and a giant turkey leg. The Warrior Dash travels the country, and at least for my race in Portland the event was well-staffed and well-directed. They also had a shoe donation pile. It's a fitting image, throwing all those foamy high-tech witch doctor shoes onto a rubbish pile. I hope they're getting ground up for playgrounds.
It's good to put your feet on the ground. Or into the mud.
- ►December 2015 (4)
- Finally, a STUNNING, Eco-Friendly Alternative to Disposal Wrapping Paper!
- We're Breaking-Up with Grippy
- Pumpkin Shoes for Harvest Season
- The Best Slipper Gift Guide Ever!
- Families Visit FREE at America's National Parks!
- Wrap-Up Your Little Ones for the Holidays in Our NEW Very Merry Moccasins!
- Progress Update on New Soft Star Workshop
- ►October 2015 (4)
- ►September 2015 (3)
- ►August 2015 (5)
- ►July 2015 (5)
- Top 10 Balance Games for Kids... of All Ages!
- Time to Play! Elves Have Fun and Get Creative at Spring 2015 Playday
- Snazzy New Colors for Buttercups and Ballerines
- GIVEAWAY: Diapers, Blocks and Shoes... Oh My! Enter to Win Our New Baby Prize Package
- Soft Star Style Bulletin: Chukkas Are Coming!
- We're Staging a Flip-Flop Intervention!
- ►May 2015 (4)
- Work Hard, Play Harder…Run Hardest?
- Transitioning to Barefoot Health PLUS RunAmoc Giveaway!
- UFC Champion Carlos Condit Tries Soft Star Shoes
- Mom and Career Elf
- Earth Day Giveaway: Celebrate Your Favorite Planet with Sustainable Goodies!
- Every Day is Bike-to-Work Day
- Happy National Pet Day! Can You Guess Which Pets Belong to Our Elves?
- ►March 2015 (6)
- ►February 2015 (2)
- ►January 2015 (5)
- ►December 2014 (5)
- Introducing One of a Kind Shoes - Same Day Shipping with No Design-Your-Own Fees
- More Than Meets the Eye: Tim's Handmade Transformers Shoes
- Help Families in Need by Sharing What Makes you Thankful!
- Travel GIVEAWAY: Win a Free Pair of Rogue Shoes + a Travel Bag from RAGGEDedge Gear!
- Shopping Online? Finding Your Shoe Size Just Got Faster, Easier and More Accurate!
- 22-Year-Old Leather Moccasins Still Looking Good!
- Show Us Your BEST Soft Star Halloween Costume!
- Mindful Running Interview with Barefoot Guru Michael Sandler
- Show Your Team Colors! Tim's Special OSU Beaver Football Shoes
- Treatment and Removal of Plantar Warts - Kids' Foot Health
- Introducing SUPER SWATCHES for Local Soft Star Customers
- The History of Tassels—Fitting Tassels Now Available on the Soft Star Website
- Time for Our HALLOWEEN CONTEST: Win Handmade Shoes to Match Your Costume!
- BIG NEWS: Soft Star's New Website and New Shoe Visualizer
- "Boss of the Moss" Mick Dodge Wears Soft Star Shoes on National Geographic Series
- Need Spectacular Shoes for Fall? Introducing Autumn Moccasins!
- BATTLE FOR THE INTERNET: Help Small Businesses by Speaking Up for Net Neutrality
- ►August 2014 (3)
- ►July 2014 (4)
- ►June 2014 (3)
- ►May 2014 (5)
- ►April 2014 (3)
- ►March 2014 (3)
- ►February 2014 (3)
- ►January 2014 (2)
- ►December 2013 (6)
- Happy Thanksgiving! Holiday Shopping Tips and Ideas from the Elves
- GIVEAWAY! One-of-a-Kind Green Merry Mocs
- 2013 Holiday Shipping for Soft Star Shoes
- Tips for Choosing Minimalist Boots and Winter Shoes
- GIVEAWAY: Win a Free Pair of Very Unique Merry Mocs!
- We Have a Winner for Our Halloween Costume Contest!
- Help Us Pick a New Leather Color
- Shoe Artisans Share New Ideas at the Soft Star Workshop
- Heartfelt Obituary for Red Dash
- Monkeys and Elves Unite! Soft Star Teams Up with Luna Sandals
- Soft Star Halloween Costume Photo Contest… and a Secret from the Elves
- Knee Arthritis? Change Your Shoes for Prevention and Treatment
- We Have a Sweepstakes Winner! And More to Come...
- ►September 2013 (5)
- ►August 2013 (5)
- ►July 2013 (5)
- ►June 2013 (4)
- Should Trail Shoes Be Thicker Than Street Shoes? Maybe Not...
- Soft Star Survey: Receive a Free $5 Gift Card and a Chance to Win $100 Cash!
- Elves Getting Dirty! Soft Star Volunteers at SAGE Community Gardens
- First Sneak Peek at the New Soft Star Ballet Flat!
- Maker's Wild Documentary: Go Behind the Scenes at Soft Star Shoes
- Are High Heels Giving You Hammer Toes? Tips for Prevention and Treatment
- Intrigued by Barefoot Running? Start this Weekend with International Barefoot Running Day!
- Are Those Shoes Made of Wood?
- Wikler's Quest for Healthy Children's Feet
- Michael Sandler Visit and Workshop – Barefoot Walking Book Review and GIVEAWAY!
- Thinking of Boston
- How Fast Do Children's Feet Grow?
- Barefoot Pioneers: the People Who Taught Us "Barefoot is Best"
- Caballo Blanco's Legacy Lives On: Tom Norwood Returns from Copper Canyon
- Book Review: Overthinking the Marathon by Ray Charbonneau
- Reinventing the Hammer: OSU Students Bring Their Skills to Soft Star
- An Olympic Thank You! Help Missy Franklin Swim for MS
- The Mighty Arch, Part 2: Strengthen Your Arches to Treat and Prevent Foot Pain
- Running Green: Soft Star Shoes at the Portland Shamrock Run
- Winter Playday at the Soft Star Workshop
- The Mighty Arch, Part 1: A Natural Cure for Plantar Fasciitis?
- ►February 2013 (4)
- ►January 2013 (1)
- ►December 2012 (5)
- A Barefoot Running Book for Kids (Includes Free Lesson in Consumerism) + GIVEAWAY!
- Happy Thanksgiving! Turkey Shoes and Small Business
- Infographic: How to Choose Barefoot Shoes
- Rally 4 Jillie!
- Gifts for Her this Holiday Season - Fitting Tassels
- Sneak Peek at New Shoes for Women and Men - Vote for a Name!
- ►October 2012 (6)
- ►September 2012 (3)
- ►August 2012 (3)
- ►June 2012 (3)
- ►May 2012 (2)
- ►April 2012 (2)
- ►March 2012 (1)
- ►February 2012 (3)
- ►January 2012 (2)
- ►December 2011 (4)
- ►November 2011 (3)
- ►October 2011 (3)
- ►September 2011 (4)
- ►August 2011 (4)
- ►July 2011 (5)
- ►June 2011 (3)
- ►May 2011 (5)
- ►April 2011 (3)
- ►March 2011 (2)
- ►February 2011 (4)
- ►January 2011 (3)
- ►November 2010 (4)
- ►October 2010 (2)
- ►August 2010 (2)
- ►July 2010 (1)
- ►May 2010 (3)
- ►April 2010 (4)
- ►March 2010 (3)
- ►February 2010 (9)
- ►January 2010 (1)
- ►December 2009 (3)
- ►November 2009 (2)
- ►October 2009 (5)
- ►September 2009 (3)
- ►August 2009 (3)
- ►July 2009 (2)
- ►June 2009 (3)
- ►May 2009 (3)
- ►April 2009 (2)
- ►March 2009 (6)
- ►February 2009 (2)
- ►January 2009 (4)
- ►December 2008 (3)
- ►November 2008 (4)
- ►October 2008 (4)
- ►August 2008 (4)
- ►July 2008 (2)
- ►June 2008 (4)
- ►May 2008 (4)
- ►April 2008 (7)
- ►March 2008 (2)
- ►February 2008 (2)
- ►January 2008 (4)
- ►November 2007 (2)
- ►October 2007 (5)
- ►September 2007 (1)
- ►August 2007 (2)
- ►July 2007 (3)
- ►June 2007 (2)
- ►May 2007 (2)
- ►April 2007 (2)
- ►March 2007 (4)
- ►February 2007 (2)
- ►January 2007 (2)
- ►December 2006 (1)
- ►November 2006 (4)
- ►October 2006 (3)
- ►September 2006 (4)
- ►August 2006 (5)
- ►July 2006 (4)
- ►June 2006 (5)