Barefoot Rick's 24 for 24 Hour Run for the Homeless Report - October 29 & 30, 2010

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.


Track surface technology has certainly evolved throughout the decades. I imagine that dirt tracks were the first to be engineered. Then, came cinder tracks which gave athletes the benefit of surface stability along with better drainage and drying capability. Then, we saw tracks evolve to harder surfaces such as asphalt and concrete. Over the past couple of decades, we've seen the introduction of the rubberized track surface. Originally, these were created with a somewhat smooth surface -- not exactly ideal for wet conditions as they would sometimes add to "slippage" for runners. While a liability for shod runners, these were ideal for barefoot runners. (I have recommended these in the past to new barefoot runners.) They afforded a smooth texture and additionally a somewhat cushioned surface to run on. However, the newer tracks that are now being constructed are building in the basics of their hardened predecessors with little give and much more texture. Such is the case for the city I live in. In Lee's Summit Missouri, all three high school tracks received stadium "makeovers" this past summer and into the fall. "Out" went the natural turf fields and old smoother rubberized tracks, and "in" came the state-of-the art artificial turf fields and new "textured" tracks.

When I showed up at Lee's Summit Schools Facilities and requested a track for my 24 hour run, I assumed the surface would be comparable with the former ones. A few days after receiving permission to use the track at Lee's Summit North High School, I went and checked out the new facility. As soon as I stepped on the track surface I thought to myself, "Oh my, this is going to be a challenge!" For those of you who know what chip seal is and for those of you who don't I will try to explain it. Chip seal is when a road crew lays a surface that consists of crushed gravel and oil and tar poured over it to give it stability. Well, picture that if they did this with rubber instead of oil and tar and you'll have a pretty good understanding of the texture of this track. I knew from then on, that this was not going to be an easy venture. Nonetheless, I was committed to my cause to help the homeless and I believed that what God had lead me to do, He was going to help me finish.

Thursday night October 28 2010, the night before the race, I was restless and didn't sleep well. I knew I had to get up at 4 a.m. and meet with a local news crew to do a live remote interview from the scene of the event that was going to be happening the next day at 6 p.m. I met with the crew and went back home, sleeping fitfully for a few hours. After getting all my gear ready throughout the remaining hours, I headed up to Lee's Summit North High School about 5 p.m. At 5:40 p.m. a fellow named Frank showed up who photographed for Dick Ross' SeeKCrun. At 5:50 p.m. the porta-potty delivery arrived, thank you Lord! (I got the use of the track free but they were going to charge us $35 and hour for a custodian to be there to keep the restrooms open. The porta-potty was much cheaper!) At 6 p.m. a few folks, including Joe Colazzi (Kansas City Rescue Mission director) and family were there and without much fanfare, I took off on my journey to circle the track for 24 hours. The surface of the track immediately signaled my feet to run with good form, otherwise I knew that I would have lots of abraisions.

The sun was quick to set at 7 p.m., and I knew that from then on I would have12 hours of virtual darkness to run through. The first 6 hours were pleasant as folks would trickle in and out to run with me, throughout the evening. Many of these were people from church or KCRM that weren't runners, but would come out just to give me a cheer or to walk the track to keep me company. After midnight, however, the "wheels" on the proverbial barefoot running machine began to wobble! Six hours of looping the track was beginning to take a toll. I was a bit tired, but an old stress fracture that I had from 2002 in my left knee was beginning to flare up. Besides that, my feet were beginning to swell from the continual "stimulation" of the track. Between 1 and 2:30 a.m., I did virtually no running as I tried to get the inflammation in my feet and the pain in my knee in check. I had ran close to 30 miles barefoot at this point and knew that my secret desire to reach 100 miles on this track was not going to happen. Nonetheless, I was still going to do my best. After a while, I was able to throw on some added warmth because of the chilly upper 30 degree temps and once again take to the track. Thank goodness for folks like Eric, Brad, George and others that came down and encouraged me to keep at it. They were angels in the middle of the night that gave me the gumption to keep going. Shortly before 6 a.m., a fellow showed up to run who would be my running companion the rest of the day. Aaron was out there for a 12 hour run in his Vibram Fivefinger shoes, determined to run as far as he could. (Thank you to Aaron and Sarah his wife for some of the great pics in this report!)

When the sun finally started peeking over the horizon at 7 a.m., my knee was feeling much better. Marilyn from my neighborhood as well as others were there there to encourage me and to keep me going. The feet still hurt but it was manageable pain. I knew I just had to keep going. Around 7:30 a.m. the Lee's Summit North Marching Band set up their equipment for a last minute practice before they went to a competition later that day. For the next couple of hours, those of us running were treated to marching band music which definitely broke the monotony. As they were dispersing, a young lady asked if we were running for the homeless. I told her "yes" and then she took a few bills and stuffed them in the collection container for the homeless. I thought to myself, "What a wonderful gesture from a young person to be concerned about others at her young age!"

The day wore by and so did the laps. I found myself running a mile or at the most two and then resting again to try to reduce the swelling in the feet. (In hindsight, I should have had some ice buckets out there. Problem with that is that I thought I might have become to chilled because of the outdoor temperature. Nonetheless, I still think it would have aided my feet.) Folks continued to show up throughout the day, including several of the staff and volunteers of KCRM. (Thank you Julie, Donna, John, Paul and others for helping me through the last few hours!) The local news team showed up around 4:30 to see if I had "keeled over" yet. Thankfully, I was still running and was able to communicate to them the circumstantial difficulties of what I was running on (see news report below or here). As the last hour ticked by, Joe Colazzi and family came out as well as Frank from seeKCrun to photograph the moment. I had known since the night before I would probably be close to 60 miles when I finished with the condition of the track and my feet. Aaron and I both completed the last lap, hands raised in victory. I finished with 60.5 miles ... Aaron with slightly over 50 miles.

Inspecting my feet after the run, I had no blisters or contusions of any sort --  they were just SEVERELY over stimulated, sensitive and swollen. The next morning, I awoke around 7:30 a.m. with soles that seemed on fire. I took some anti-inflammatories and rested a bit longer. When I was getting ready for church, I noticed that I had to cram my feet into my loose weaved huaraches. They were definitely still swollen.

In retrospect, I accomplished what I set out to do. My own secret desire of 100 miles was not important. What was is that we brought a lot of attention and raised some much needed funds for the homeless. In the large scheme of things, 24 hours of discomfort is a small thing when you think that the homeless in our cities are horribly uncomfortable everyday. For whatever reason they are out there is not mine to judge. When I was homeless in the 70s and 80s, it was because of my alcoholism. There are a variety of reasons why they are out there and it is only our obligation to help as we can and to try to lift them up when possible. The Lamb of God suffered for all, regardless of their circumstances. I pray that we could all give just a little of ourselves to provide a bit of relief when we come in His name. I feel privileged and honored to be able to do my small part.

Your Barefoot Servant,


(Postscript: As of 11/16/10, the 24x24 Barefoot Run has raised nearly $1800. Thank you again for your support!)



Aaron, Me, Joe, and Paul







Courtesy of Sarah Norman (Aaron's wife)


Courtesy of Dick Ross' SEEKCRUN


Barefoot Runner Completes Epic Trek
Rick Roeber Runs 24 Hours For Homeless Charity


"Barefoot Rick" runs for KC Rescue Mission fundraiser tonight



Click Here for Barefoot Rick's Ultra Marathon History




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