Barefoot Rick's Lincoln Marathon Report - May 7, 2006

What an incredible weekend! Not only did I get to run the Lincoln marathon with 3 other barefoot marathoners and one barefoot half-marathoner, but I got to be part of a two day experience with these guys that I will remember always. The marathon, for sure, was great. But there was so much more to savor all weekend with great company and good barefoot camaraderie.

On Friday, I met Ken Bob, Byron, and Todd around noon for our car trip from KC to Lincoln. Ken Bob had flown in the day before from California (boy, were his arms tired!) and Todd the day before from Virginia where he had completed his 200th marathon the week before. With Todd and Byron driving together, and me and Ken Bob in my little pickup we arrived in Lincoln around 4 p.m. The front desk at the Embassy Suites informed us first of all, that they weren't expecting us until Saturday night. Once they fixed that problem by calling over one of the Lincoln Track officials (who were comping our room), we also found out that we only had one suite for 5 guys! Hmmmm ... things would certainly be cozy. Good thing a couple of us had brought sleeping bags! Sanjay, our 5th barefooter via Omaha joined us shortly after we checked in.

(Left) Barefoot Todd and Barefoot Ken Bob (Right) Barefoot Byron being consumed by a sleeping bag!

Nancy Sutton, Race Director, gave us a call to coordinate the radio appearance on the Average Joe Radio Sports Show on KLMS 1480 ESPN at 6 p.m. Ken Bob, myself, Dick Beardsley, and Nancy drove to the radio station. It was a nice 20 minute commute where we got to talk to Dick about his illustrious marathoning career. It was a thrill to be on the radio with this sports legend, hearing him talk about the razor-close finish with Alberto Salazar at the 1982 Boston Marathon. It was a nice juxtaposition, having ordinary barefoot runners talking about barefoot running along with a great marathoner like Mr. Beardsley.

At the radio station - (Left) Dick Beardsley with Ken Bob (Right) Nancy Sutton, Race Director with Ken Bob

Upon returning to the hotel, I opted to make a trip to one of the local Runza Huts for dinner, while everyone else went for pasta at a local restaurant. Eating and driving, I drove through a couple of the old neighborhoods from my childhood (we moved away in 1968). My, how things have changed!

On Saturday morning, Todd, KB, Byron, and Sanjay took a walk to the Capitol for the Mayor's Kids Fun Run. After they got back, we went to the expo and picked up our packets. I then decided to go for a short run but my comrades were content to hang around the hotel. Oh well, there would be plenty of running the next day! Upon my return, it was just about time to head down to the Over 50 Luncheon in the dining atrium. Ken Bob was the first to open up the talk with his reasons for barefoot running. One by one, we all followed him up to the podium giving our reasons for shedding the shoes. I opened up my short testimonial by thanking the Lincoln Track Club for putting on such a wonderful event each year. It was great being able to tell the participants about growing up in Lincoln, in addition to why and how I started barefoot running. We all got to continue discussing our reasons for bare footing in Ballroom C at the Embassy Suites later in the afternoon. It was an informal panel discussion on barefoot running and a great Q&A follow-up. After the pasta dinner at the Champion Center, we all retired early since we were all going for a "little" run the next morning.

Hmmm ... Bob Saxon? Never heard of the guy!

The sign amused us! Free your what, huh?

Hanging out the night before the race!

The barefoot team was up at 5:30, getting ready for our respective distances. Since this was Sanjay's first race ever (barefoot or otherwise) we were all trying to give him inspiration that he was going to do fine in the half-marathon. We all walked the half mile to the start line a little before 7 a.m. and lined up way in the back. There I got to meet Joy alias NERunner from the Runners World forum. Joy and her husband had come down from western Nebraska for her second marathon!

Barefoot Rick, Shoeless Slug (alias Byron), Barefoot Ken Bob, Barefoot Sanjay, Barefoot Todd

Once the cannon went off, it took us nearly three minutes to walk to the start line! Finally, we were on our way! There were constant spectators crowding the course for the first few miles, including lots and lots of National Guard (since of course this IS the National Guard Marathon, also. I had many opportunities all weekend to thank our soldiers for serving. As a veteran, I so appreciate the service that our armed forces provide.)

The weather was perfect (50 degrees and overcast), the crowds were great, and the course was awesome! However, this was not to be a fast marathon for me. Even though I ran a 3:45 last month in St. Louis, I didn't feel a lot of pep for this one. I ran a 9:10-20 pace for the first half, but could not kick it in for a negative split on the second half. Ken Bob consistently stayed several minutes ahead of me according to the spectators. They kept saying he's only a few blocks ahead of you, but I never caught him. I was just having fun along the way with the crowds and wasn't too concerned about catching KB. I knew I would see him at the finish line.

I finally saw Barefoot Todd as I was heading back around mile 22 (he would have been at about mile 19). I never saw Byron but I know he must have been close to Todd since they finished with similar times.

The last few miles for me were slow, probably a 10 minute pace, but I was still having fun. I would always engage the crowd when they shouted, "Hey look, it's another barefooter!" I kept asking them if they had seen a barefoot guy that looked like Forest Gump which they would heartily agree with the comparison.

Well, to make a long report longer, I crossed the finish line just behind an 11 year old marathoner! Nancy Sutton had told us about him. His parents signed the waver for him to run, so more power to him. I'm not convinced that it will hurt his development just as I know barefoot running (according to some experts) is not bad for my development but has actually added to my longevity as a runner.

Shortly after the race, I headed back to the hotel, cleaned up, said good-bye to Ken Bob and Sanjay (who by the way did wonderful in the half marathon, finishing with a good kick!) On the way out of Lincoln, I picked up a a couple of Runzas for the trip back. The warmth of the fresh baked delicacies and the warmth of the weekend made it a pleasant trip home!


More Pics!


17th barefoot marathon
35th marathon overall
Ran the entire distance
Finish: 4:15:33

517   630   51/70   9:45   4:15:33

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