Barefoot Rick's St.
Louis Marathon Report - April 6, 2008
A Barefoot Boston Marathon Qualifier!
Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
I'm really not sure of all the reasons why I ran my fastest barefoot marathon and Boston qualified on this clear springtime day. Bottom line, I think I just wanted to run faster than I have since I gave up running shoes in December 2003 when I ran my last Boston qualifier (BQ) at the Dallas White Rock Marathon. However, I think there may have been some contributing factors in hindsight. Maybe it was last weekend's 26.2 mile "training run" at the Olathe Marathon. Maybe it was the late afternoon snack on Saturday of three White Castle "belly bombers" and an order of fries. Or, maybe in combination was the large hamburger and anchovy pizza that I finished off while lounging in my hotel room. Maybe these were contributors but probably more than anything I found myself trying to catch up with an elusive barefoot marathoner ahead of me on the course. I knew that Joe Berrones was going to be running his first barefoot marathon on this gorgeous morning. Joe had seen me on the course last year. He ran the marathon with shoes in 2007 and wrote me after the marathon and throughout the year that he was preparing for his barefoot marathon debut on April 6, 2008 at St. Louis. Joe told me to wait for him at the finish line because he thought he would be coming in at about 4 hours. I figured he was feeling good and just went crazy and was trying to maintain an 8:10 pace.
Hanging out at the Start Line
Ready, Set, Go!
It seemed like with every mile folks were saying "Hey, there's another barefoot runner" so I just kept moving along thinking that if Joe lost his head of steam that I would be there soon enough to encourage him on his way. At mile 13 I was thinking, "If I keep this pace up, I can BQ." I didn't give it too much thought but just kept going. I wasn't as attentive to the crowds as I usually am, doing a lot of hand slapping with the kids but I did try to encourage runners along the way. Finally, the spectators were saying "Hey, that other barefoot is only about 100 yards ahead of you. (This was at about mile 22 so it took a while to catch up!) The form of this guy looked familiar but it wasn't Joe Berrones, it was Joe Seeley who I had ran Long Beach Marathon with barefoot back in 2005. He said that he and his wife now lived in St. Louis. We talked for a minute and then I excused myself telling Joe S. that I knew I was close to BQing. He waved me on as I continued through Forest Park and back up Market Street. The chipseal slowed me down a bit on the way back (as it did on the way out) but I was still maintaining a strong pace.
I hit the 26 mile mark at about 3:33 or 34 on my watch and thought, "Man, I better move!" So, I gathered up every bit of endurance and ran it in. When I hit the stop button on my watch, I was pleased - 3:35:38! I needed a 3:35 to qualify for my age group but the Boston Athletic Association always grants the 59 seconds above the qualifying time as "grace". So, for BQ standards I finished with 21 seconds to compare.
I realized that Joe was still coming so I hung out and waited for me. When he hit the finish line at about 3:57:47 he was very pleased! He went on to tell me that there were actually four barefoot marathoners out there today. (We quadrupled our force since last year!)
At the Finish!
Needless to say I was happy with my finish. I got to talk to the press waiting for Joe in a couple of different instances regarding running for the Free Wheelchair Mission which is really the main reason why I run these things anymore. (Also, thanks to all those who gave dollars and change as I walked around the Expo on Saturday asking for donations for wheelchairs. The dollars and cents will change lives!) Whether I go to Boston next year doesn't really matter to me that much right now. I have ran the Boston Marathon in four consecutive years - two years with shoes and the last two years barefoot (2002-05). The most important thing is knowing that I can go if the Lord and the charity I am running for next year are supportive of that decision.
The following are Barefoot Rick news mentions:
Tens Of Thousands Jam Downtown For Marathon
KSDK-5 Video with Barefoot Rick and the Free Wheelchair Mission!
Go! Endurance events run in ideal conditions
Finish Time - 3:35:38
Pace - 8:14
Barefoot Marathon Personal Best!
Boston Marathon Qualifier Time (First Time to Qualify Barefoot)
19th Place (Age Group 50-54 Males)
55th Marathon (26.2 Miles or Ultra Distance)
37th Consecutive Barefoot Marathon Since April 2004
*I am a marathon runner and do not prescribe to a run/walk method for MY marathons. Likewise, I do not judge anyone else for "finishing" a marathon in whatever way they can propel themselves across the finish line, whether it be walking, crawling, etc. All marathon finishes are notable in their own regard.
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