First Barefoot Parkrun

Posted: 21/07/2012 in Barefoot, Event, Parkrun, Running, Transition

Well, by now you know that when I say ‘Barefoot’, I mean barefoot shoes, right?

I was on the roster to marshall at the Whitley Bay Parkrun this morning, but as luck would have it J was keen to come along, take my place and allow me to run. Huzzah, and a big thank you. We signed her up last night and I sorted a barcode for her, and off we headed this morning.

It was a stunningly good morning to run, warm, sunny but with a little bit of breeze off the sea. Just about bloomin’ perfect. Turning up at Parkrun HQ, we explained the Switch’n’Run plan and figured out where J had to stand – just before the Golden Bridge (not sure where the name comes from, but it’s the wee bridge at the stream where the promenade ends. Her job was to direct people down the rough track to the bridge.

Because she wasn’t 100% where that was, I walked down with her and Jane, another of the Parkrun Marshalls – however, as we got close I realised I had only a couple of minutes to get back to the start. With some last minute checking of positions, I was off!

So, to recap, I’ve run up to 2.2 miles in my barefoot shoes so far. The Parkrun is 3.1 miles, so a bit of an increase, but I’m now running back to the start point, which I figure adds around another half a mile in to the run. Let’s say we’re up to 3.6 miles by this point once I’ve done the run.

As I headed back, a little faster than normal, I was a couple of hundred metres away when I saw the race begin. Bum. Still, I gamely kept on, through the gaggle of organisers at the start with a cheery “I’d better catch up”, and off in hot pursuit of the tail marker runner in her fluo bib to mark the end of the race.

Past the war memorial, along the links, then down onto the promenade at the top of the beach, and I’ve caught up – feeling a bit knackered now, but pleased to be officially back in the run. As we go along the promenade, I notice the runners right up at the front have headed up onto the top again – that’s not the route, but maybe it’s a different group of runners out for a morning jog, who’ve been carried along by the flow?

Continue on, and the runners after that first dozen or so are running the right way, so things seem fine. I reach the end of the promenade, up the hill and there’s J, smiling as people file down towards the bridge. Good job, and I’m glad she looks like she’s enjoying it.

Over the bridge, up the other side, back onto the road and I’ve got a funny feeling in my heel – no idea what, can’t see anything, so I keep on truckin’. Back along the links and towards the start of the second lap, and I realise it’s the insole in my shoe, trying to escape from my shoe. Fair enough, they’re removable, but i hadn’t expected that – and I stop at the crossing over the Panama Dip cafe to take my shoe off, retrieve the insole and keep going. Sounds simple, but because of the lack of a third hand, at one point I had to hold the insole between my teeth. It. Did. Not. Smell. Good.

Back off again, and the second lap was much like the first, only without the ground to make up – I kept my tempo up, and tried to be very aware of the feeling in my feet from the ground – the sharp rocks on the trail can wake you up if you’re not careful. Off to the finish, and I get my number – 78 – WHAT? I’ve never finished below 200 before, what’s going on? I check the person behind, 79 and the one in front 77, so it must be a lowish turnout. Also discovered that the chap in front, Jason, is the bloke we ran past while out on Thursday night – he’s had calf trouble and was stretching an amazing amount, we were doing the walk/run thing along the parade, so I guess we must have stuck in the respective minds. Anyway, we got talking a bit about injuries and shoes, and whatever else, and I’m sure our paths will cross again.

After getting scanned, I ran back along to J where the last marker had just come through – that’s about another 0.5 miles, so I’m saying around 4 miles in total. Basically twice my current longest distance.

I feel a little bit sore in the calf area, but other than that, I’m feeling great. Roll on more joint Parkrun fun…


  • Distance: 5km – that’ll be the Parkrun bit, more like 4 miles in total, but my GPS was having a bad day
  • Time: 27’30” – again, official time for the Parkrun – not a PB, but I did run a bit to get to the start once the race had got underway…
  • Av. pace: Lord only knows – hang on, just calculated – 8’51” per mile – not bad!

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