So–we know there are plenty of minimalist runners out there, and we also know there’s a legion of bare footers out there, some of whom complete marathons that way. But what about a guy running a marathon in flip-flops? What if I told you he did it at Baltimore this past weekend and he did it in 2:46?
The runner is Keith Levasseur, who happens to live in my town and run with our running club. The far-fetched idea came to him this past summer while crewing for his girlfriend’s 50-miler at the North Face Endurance Challenge. In a hurry to drop a bag for her, Keith ran off in flip-flops and was surprised by the fact that it wasn’t very difficult to run in them. An idea was hatched…
After doing some checking, Keith discovered that there was no marathon record for running in flip-flops. He submitted the idea to Guinness Book of World Records and they gave him the criteria he needed to certify his attempt. This included the type of flip-flop (traditional foam), the requirement that if he lost one he had to go back, retrieve it and keep running, and the requirement that the race be on a public, certified course, among others.
With that in check, Keith set about “training” in the flip flops. His initial run in them back in September didn’t go well–he says the shin strain was significant from having to grip the shoe and change his form. He briefly reconsidered the whole thing, but then decided to push on. After a few more runs in the four- to five-mile range, and a final “long” run of 14 miles in the flip-flops, Keith was ready to go.
I saw Keith right after the marathon and have to say, he looked surprisingly good. His challenges, he says, came from the uphills, which drastically altered his stride (and Baltimore has plenty of uphills!). He developed a hot spot on one foot about 14 miles in, but otherwise, managed the entire thing amazingly well. He says hat his ankles were fairly fatigued and that he had to concentrate on his form quite a bit, but dealt with the extra pain by “running faster to get it overwith sooner.” Yes, don’t we all wish we could do that?
Keith’s next focus will be on several marathons and ultras (Marine Corps, MMTR 50-miler, and the Rosaryville 50k among others) where he hopes to place among the top 10 to 20 in each. And how does he top the flip-flop marathon? He’s a bit elusive, but ensures that he usually has something up his sleeve in order to keep things fun. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him!
What do you think of Keith’s flip-flop marathon? Ever run a race in some incredibly non-traditional way?