Born To Run, And Then Some

Barefoot running is all Tellman Knudson knows. Photo: Courtesy of Tellman Knudson

Think you’re into barefoot running? Not as much as this guy.

Written By John Mendelsohn

Femoral anteversion, an increased angle between the head of the femur (thigh bone) and the greater trochanter, where the femur turns downward, is why many toddlers appear bowlegged. But those who don’t sleep on their knees with their feet splayed usually grow out of it.

Little Tellman Knudson of Enfield, New Hampshire was the exception, and had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder too, and, as a teenager, was consequently one of his classmates’ favorite objects of ridicule. But then he began to run — and run, and run, and run. He ran seven miles to school in the morning, and seven miles home at night, the latter after having practiced at length with the cross-country team. And lo, the running and running and running cured him, causing the surgeons who’d been poised to try to rectify his condition by breaking his femurs and putting them in casts, to exclaim, “Holy crap!” he remembers. “It’s a modern medical miracle!”

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Now, at age 32, , with long hair and straggly beard that would have looked at home on a roadie for the 70s flute-rock group Jethro Tull, he’s trying to get the whole world to exclaim, “Holy crap!” as he attempts to run across the continent in 99 days on behalf of homeless teens, a great many of whom will presumably be able to lease luxury condos with the $100,000,000 he hopes his feat will inspire fellow altruists to cough up.

Barefoot, mind you, eschewing even sponsor Vibram’s FiveFingers® footwear in spite of its avowed ability to “deepen your connection to the earth and your surroundings.” To wear even FiveFingers, would be to deny himself the pleasure of displaying his black soles to a succession of camerapersons from local TV news programs. And don’t doubt that there’s been considerable interest from such programs, thanks in no small part to the fact that the six-person crew accompanying him includes not only a veteran of multiple Badwater Ultramarathons, a former Marine medic/pacer, and “Ben Clark, 32, [who] has been a lifelong friend to Tellman for over 20 years,” whose job it is to supervise Tellman’s ingestion of electrolytes, and to bandage his beleaguered tootsies, but three publicists, who’ve thus far persuaded Brett Keisel of the Pittsburgh Steelers to amble alongside Knudson for a couple of blocks, and Sir Richard Branson to commune with him on video.

It’s Knudson’s view that the homeless youth for whom he’s running could be tomorrow’s captains of industry. “Being street-savvy and creative solution- seekers when it comes to survival,” his Website tells us, “these youths have the sort of entrepreneurial mind synonymous with success.” Once having extricated them from “dangerous situations and risk-related behaviors,” we need only teach them “life and business skills that will foster their ingenuity.”

Knudson claims that the venture will cost him $500,000.

Knudson left Battery Park in New York City on Sept. 9, 2009 and hopes to reach the Santa Monica Pier in 99 days. Photo: Courtesy of Tellman Knudson

Once having starred on his high school cross-country team, our hero worked his way through college by selling home-made salsa from his dorm room. After studying altered states of awareness at Marlboro College, he launched a succession of businesses that flopped before coming up with the idea for an email list of one million persons who might respond to online marketing campaigns. He claims now to be a millionaire on the strength of brazenly hucksterish, overcapitalized (in the grammatical sense) Websites that virtually bellow, for instance, “Your Home Computer Is A Cash Engorged Goldmine!” How, in view of the knowledge that “T. Harv Eker gives you 3 easy ways to change your money thermostat and instantly gain a millionaire mindset so that money flows to you effortlessly,” is one supposed to resist joining List Crusade?

About 200 athletes have beaten him to the punch in running across the country, but the vast majority, of course, have worn shoes. Having started on September 9 in Manhattan, Knudson runs around 20 miles per day, appearing most of the time to be on very hot asphalt, but nonetheless hopes to reach the Santa Monica Pier within 99 days. (The calculator suggests that, at his current pace, it will take him about 160 days.) However many days it winds up taking him, he will, unless he suddenly asks himself, “Holy crap, what could I have been thinking?” and buys himself a bus ticket back to Vermont, eventually break the record for most miles run barefoot in a 12-month period currently held by Barefoot Rick Roeber, who thinks of himself as Glorifying Jesus, One Sole at a Time.

The Guinness Book of Records is reportedly poised to acknowledge Knudson’s as its Longest Barefoot Journey.

To follow Knudson’s entire journey visit his website:

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