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Events / Barefoot

Going Primal

Sometimes we need to monkey around to remember the fun in life and the fun in running. Remember when you were a kid? The freedom of opening the door and running outside barefoot to chase your friends around the yard with no care in the world? Thanks barefoot…you’ve brought out the kid in us again!

Intrigued? Keep reading to hear how team Merrell and their 15 guests took on the NYC Barefoot Run for a weekend of enjoyment!

Last weekend we attended the 2nd Annual NYC Barefoot Run weekend with 15 guests that spanned from influential running editors and bloggers, to barefoot running gurus. The purpose of the weekend for us (Merrell) was to first and foremost have fun and to collectively find solutions to spread barefoot as the enjoyable, form focused, safe and fun activity that we have learnt it to be. As background, here at Merrell, barefoot has not just been a business driver but has been a culture driver. Sure we got in it for the opportunity, but it turned into much more. Rather than talking the talk, many of us are walking the walk, or barefooting the barefoot. Together we have embraced the movement and are transitioning to barefoot style running and a barefoot lifestyle. It is fun to see how a product collection can inspire and bring a company together in an activity that truly embodies the spirit of the brand – Let’s Get Outside. As a runner, what a better way to get outside than to run, and run barefoot where you can actually feel the outside under your feet!
Together with our guests we embraced the weekend. Saturday morning we met in the lobby of the hotel to head down to barefoot running clinics taught by the likes of Jason Robillard (our Merrell barefoot ambassador and founder of the Barefoot Running University), Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (a family doc, owner of Two Rivers Treads and partner in the Natural Running Center), and Barefoot Ted (a barefoot running guru and independent athlete committed to re-discovering primal human capacities.) After a run down 5th Ave (literally) we, along with other NYC Barefoot Run participants, learned about form, proper breathing and education, and really began to immerse ourselves in the barefoot world (potty squats and all.) It was an amazing opportunity for all of us to learn from the best in the barefoot world. Next stop, our Merrell hosted symposium (or as we like to call it our Barefoot Jam session.)

Beers, coffee and lunch proved good icebreakers! 17 Merrell guests and seven Merrell executives sat shoeless on comfy couches and chairs to jam on the Barefoot movement. Our very own marketing guru and chief Barefoot fun officer, Craig Throne, moderated the discussion which fostered key points that we collectively felt would make Barefoot running a movement rather than a trend. Where are all the women? How will kids drive the movement forward (they are the next generation of healthy runners, why not teach them now)? What is the next level of education? How do we properly get retailers to educate consumers on proper form? How do we get the mainstream to see the benefit and not just the oddity? All of these topics lit a hot discussion that we hope benefited everyone in the room.  Time was up and we were off to the Merrell Hydration Party that for some, was a late and indulgent evening.  Speakers like Dr. Daniel Lieberman, Chris McDougall and our ambassador Jason Robillard spoke on barefoot running. Good times were had by all!

Sunday morning at the crack of dawn, we scurried off to the 2nd annual NYC Barefoot Run. A few of us in TuTus, one in a cape and 400 participants we were ready to run our distance.  Quickly, everyone became kids once again and were able to run (play) with friends and enjoy the beautiful day on Governor’s Island. Avocados, bananas, paleo granola, carbs in the form of beer and water fueled our run. When else can you eat an avocado with no utensils? Or see a newly engaged couple be pulled by Barefoot Ted in a rickshaw around the island? Together, newbie runners, pure barefooters, and runners in “barefoot” shoes ran their distance of choice and rediscovered what it means to run natural.


Thanks to the NYC Barefoot Run Crew and our guests for an epic weekend!
Guests included:
Warren Greene – Runner’s World
Amby Burfoot – Runner’s World
Adam Chase – Running Times
Curt Munson - Playmakers
Jay Dicharry- UVA Endurosport
Peter Larson - Runblogger
Nicholas Pang – Minimalist Running Shoes, Natural Running Center
Pablo Paster - Treehugger
Justin Owings – Birthday Shoes
Josh Sutcliffe – Barefoot Josh
Dr. Mark Cucuzzella - Natural Running Center
Christian Peterson – Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
Katie Kift - Barefoot KatieK
Tucker Goodrich - Yelling Stop blog
Jesse Scott - In Search of Solid Ground
Jason Robillard - Barefoot Running University
Shelley Robillard - Shoeless Shelbell