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THE BAREFOOT BANDITO

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By Robert Balajadia

Eddie "The Barefoot Bandito" Vega. (courtesy photo)

Eddie “The Barefoot Bandito” Vega. (courtesy photo)

A marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 km). Though physical conditioning is very important, runners would agree that the type of shoe to wear while running is equally important. One man, in particular, has chosen to crank up the difficulty level of marathon running for the Soles4Souls charity by running it completely barefoot.

Guam’s Eddie Vega has always had a dream of completing a marathon in all 50 States and all Seven Continents. The 50 States goal was completed earlier this year on June 22nd, his late father Charle Macuto Vega’s birthday and he hopes to wrap up the Seven Continents soon. Vega had moved to Guam from the Philippines at the age of six and lived on the Island for 25 years. He graduated from JFK and now currently lives in North Carolina. He visits Guam and the Philippines just about every year. If anyone asks’ where he’s from, Guam his home. Vega conquered the 50 States marathon, but picked up barefoot running by accident along the way.

“I used to run the marathon in Vibrams, but it wasn’t until the “Savage 7″ in Florida where I was dared to run Day 5 of 7 completely barefoot. The Vibrams get really stinky after one use and I had only brought four pairs with me so I did not have a clean pair for Day 5 and everyone dared  me to do it barefoot. The reaction I got after completing it was overwhelming and I got such positive responses that I then decided I could do something like this to raise awareness for kids who do no have shoes,” stated Vega.

After running a few marathons barefoot, the nickname “Barefoot Bandito” was born.

Running With A Purpose

Vega normall runs his marathons in Vibrams. (courtesy photo)

Vega normall runs his marathons in Vibrams. (courtesy photo)

Vega not only dedicates his barefoot running to the Sole4Souls charity but also runs in honor of his mother and father. He experienced the harm of walking barefoot as a child contracting tuberculoses by walking barefoot outside.

While most donations to Sole4Souls go to places like Haiti and Costa Rica, Vega wants to draw more attention to the Philippines and Micronesian Islands.

So far, the donation list continues to grow every time he completes a marathon barefoot.  Vega made a lasting impression in Wisconsin after completing the 3rd longest running marathon in U.S. history barefoot, the first barefoot finisher in their 65-year history. Volunteers and runners wanted to get involved and asked Vega how they can support his cause. He even inspired a runner, who runs short distance barefoot, to complete the marathon barefoot as did Vega.

“I am just a regular guy who never excelled in sports when I was younger.  I made it to the volleyball team at St. Anthony, I was on the bench of JFK’s basketball team, and I didn’t make the football team. I want people to know that you do not have to be an athlete to run marathons.  You can aspire to do anything you set you mind to.”

Not A Purist

A picture of Vega's feet after the Sedona Marathon in Arizona. (courtesy photo)

A picture of Vega’s feet after the Sedona Marathon in Arizona. (courtesy photo)

Although Vega is running barefoot, he does not consider himself a “barefoot runner.” He does what he does for charity and advises people not to partake in running barefoot due to the harmful terrains and various diseases one could contract while running barefoot.

“My feet are always torn up after running barefoot. The terrain is very tough with the combination of gravel, asphalt, cement, class, twigs, and road kill. ‘Bandito’ is only fitting since I don’t see myself in the barefoot running community.  Shoes are better for you,” stated Vega.

Vega completed 8.7 miles in Antarctica before slipping back on his Vibrams. The snow was too much to handle and the final 17.5 miles after slipping on his Virams were of the most grueling he had ever experienced. He never plans on doing that again.

Getting Involved

Vega will be in Guam for his Class of 1978 JFK Reunion and will participate in the 5.5M Tumon Run Saturday morning. He will be staying at the Reef Hotel.

To donate to Vega’s cause and learn more about his inspiring story, click on the links below.

*NOTE: There are currently only 62 people in the world that have completed running a marathon in all 50 States, and that’s with wearing a pair of SHOES!

Fundraising page:

https://secure.soles4souls.org/page/contribute/eddievega

From the Soles4Souls blog:

http://blog.soles4souls.org/2013/08/campaign-to-watch-the-barefoot-bandito/

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