Is Barefoot Racing A Wise Thing To Do?

One runner taking part in this weekend’s Boilermaker Road Race thinks so; a foot and ankle surgeon doesn’t.

Andy Benedict, an attorney in Philadelphia, is proud of the fact that he’ll be standing out on the starting line of this weekend’s Boilermaker Road Race. The reason? Where most runners will have their racing flats on, he’ll be barefoot.

Last year, he ran the same race with no shoes on and finished in 1:31:03. At the time, he thought he was the only runner to race barefoot, but later found out someone had run much faster barefoot than he did.

“My claim to fame is that I’m the second-fastest barefoot Boilermaker runner,” he admits.

It turns out, the Boilermaker race has had another speedy barefoot runner in its past: Zola Budd Pieterse. In 1996, she completed the 15K course in 50:15, finishing behind double Olympic silver medalist Catherine Ndereba.

But is barefoot racing and barefoot running wise things to do for everyone?

Foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Lesley Wolf doesn’t think so.

“The repetitive pounding on the ground without protection, I think, is ridiculous,” he said.

Benedict begs to differ.

“I used to run and my knees would ache,” he said. “Now, I don’t have any knee or hip problems. Hills are much easier – downhills are a lot harder, but they tell you to pick up your knees a lot higher. It controls it a little bit.”

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