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TI CHAGI ESTE: THE AGONY OF MY FEET

If the Barefoot Bandito can do it, why can’t he? GSPN’s Patrick Lujan finds out why Eddie Vega is a world record holder and he’s not.

By Patrick Lujan

GSPN's Patrick Lujan was inspired by Eddie Vega's barefoot marathon world records. He comes up short, to say the least. (photo by Patrick Lujan, Jr.)

GSPN’s Patrick Lujan was inspired by Eddie Vega’s barefoot marathon world records. He comes up short, to say the least. (photo by Patrick Lujan, Jr.)

I barely go barefoot.

Maybe only two occasions that I bare my feet: sleeping and showering. Even on my tile floor, I wear house slippers because my chiropractor said so.

I’ve always been the one to try something at least once, and since Guam’s Eddie ‘Barefoot Bandito’ Vega has gone on to break two Guiness Book of World Records for most barefoot marathons in a year with over 50 and 10 marathons in 10 days, I’d do something in his honor in just a fraction of what the 53-year-old Vega has done.

In fact, I was so motivated after he broke the record last week. So I ventured to do just a 5K on nothing but the bottom of my feet, picking the flat course of West Agana from Paseo to Adelup and back.

“My advice about barefoot running is to just take off your shoes and just run. Your natural instincts will take over especially given the fact that your feet are one of the most sensitive areas in your body,” Vega suggested to me.

I wanted to get another opinion so I reached out to Dr. Luis Cruz, a sports physician at American Medical Center who also happens to be a high school classmate of mine at Father Duenas. When I told him what I was about to do, he said, “LECHE! Don’t do it. It’s going to hurt.”

All of a sudden, the thought made different parts of my feet start to hurt. Not lying.

My accomplice for this venture, and photographer to show proof, was my son Patrick Jr. Driving down to Agana, I mentioned that we forgot to bring ice packs – just in case. He said, “The Bandito doesn’t need ice packs.” Smarty pants!

It felt strange, taking off the zories to go for a sunset run at the Chamorro Village. Now it was just a matter of remembering The Barefoot Bandito’s tips “to minimize any risk of injury”:

1) Run a pace that is about 2-3 minutes per mile slower than your normal pace.

2) Choose a course with a smooth running surface.

3) As much as possible look at about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you and not directly at your feet in order to maintain good form. You will still be able to spot dangerous objects from 10 to 20 feet away and still allow time to maneuver.

4) You will notice that when you run in an area with lots of loose pebbles you will naturally bend your knees more and gingerly maneuver your way around the pebbles in order to minimize the impact from stepping on the stones. Your sensitive soles will naturally force you tread carefully to prevent injury.

Patrick barefootAll true.

My feet were able to bear the eight different versions of concrete on the sidewalk and I’ve never looked down running more in my life. As I passed the old Corn Building, my left knee and right ankle started to sore, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

In fact, I was feeling pretty good and being very cautious as shiny particles of broken glass was scattered throughout. I even counted the number of slots portioned out for the upcoming Liberation Day Parade – 214 slots on the beach side.

My turn at Adelup was a respectable 15 minutes – this after six pebble pokes.

I actually picked up the pace.

Then it happened.

It was the feeling of a flat tire on your car. The outside ball of my left foot suffered a slight tear of the skin about two miles in. Talk about deflating.

I manned up for another 400 meters or so before wisdom overtook pride. It was time to shut it down.

It was like a flat tire heading back. These feet were not made to be bare. (photo by Patrick Lujan, Jr.)

It was like a flat tire heading back. These feet were not made to be bare. (photo by Patrick Lujan, Jr.)

“The Bandito wouldn’t quit,” said my sidekick. He was lucky I couldn’t chase him.

By the end of the year, Vega expects to finish 100 barefoot marathons. That’s 2620 miles…and I couldn’t even do 0.07% of that without coming up lame.

That’s why he’s in the Guiness Book of World Records and I’m not.

Notes: At 30 miles long, Vega will cover the distance of more than 43 times around Guam…at the current gas prices, it would cost over $630 of gas to drive that amount of miles…this experience was much shorter than my half marathon experiment, but the feet are beat up more.

Vega’s Initial Plans (Jan 1, 20014)

Vega’s Pursuit Underway (Feb 24, 2014)

He’s Halfway There (May 4, 2014)

Vega’s Non-Profit Soles4Souls

World record holder Eddie Vega after he broke the record for most barefoot marathons in 10 straight days. Look at those feet! (courtesy photo)

World record holder Eddie Vega after he broke the record for most barefoot marathons in 10 straight days. Look at those feet! (courtesy photo)

 

 

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