The Baltimore Marathon in flip-flops

IMG 1906 224x300 The Baltimore Marathon in flip flops

Keith Levasseur looking fresh after his 2:46 Baltimore Marathon in flip-flops

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? 


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  1. wow.
    why do I immediately think my TOES would crap from clutching the flops?!
    Miz recently posted..Ten word Tuesday.My Profile

  2. Honestly I thought he was a bit crazy but running that fast?!? Amazing. Interested to see what he is up to next.
    Kris @ recently posted..Aftermath & the Best Finishing Video I’ve Ever Seen.My Profile

  3. I saw an article about this. Sounds crazy to me but that’s because I look like a fool attempting to run across the yard in flip flops!
    abbi recently posted..Freedom’s Run Marathon 2012My Profile

  4. What an amazing story! He is one of a kind! Cool fact, thanks for sharing!
    Christine recently posted..A Beautiful Run and a ProblemMy Profile

  5. Wow! This reminds me of my friend who wants to set (or break) the records for longest scarf knitted while running a marathon and fastest marathon run while knitting a scarf. xD
    Rachel recently posted..I Guess It’s Technically a PR? (Race Recap: Spartan Grand Classic)My Profile

  6. Oh boy, I smell a trend starting… :)
    Kovas – Midwest Multisport Life recently posted..Got Milk? InfographicMy Profile

  7. I cannot think of anything worse than running for a mile in flip flops except for running for more than a mile (and how ’bout a marathon) in flip flops. Wow! Hats (and shoes) off to this guy!
    Jen recently posted..Race day woes and oh noMy Profile

  8. Crazy. All I could think about was the chafing in between toes – ouch! But seriously, that is so impressive!!

  9. Wow!!! That makes my feet hurt just thinking about it! I can’t imagine!!! He’s incredible!!!
    Mindy @ Road Runner Girl recently posted..Gulf Coast Half Marathon Mandeville Day 1!My Profile

  10. Holy cow!!!! Running in flip flops is NOT easy…there were multiple times this summer that I had to run after AJ while I was wearing them. My whole stride was messed up and it was definitely not comfortable. I can’t imagine running a marathon in them…let alone in 2:46. Wow.
    Michele @ NYC Running Mama recently posted..Mizuno Shoe Giveaway!My Profile

  11. THATS BANANAS! I hate him a little bit…for being able to run so fast in flip flops and look so good afterwards! IMPRESSIVE!
    Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) recently posted..Marathon Recap – The GoodMy Profile

  12. Wow that is pretty amazing. I find it really hard to run in flip flip and can’t imagine 26.2 miles in them. Go Keith!
    Sylvia recently posted..Rock ‘n Roll Brooklyn 10k 2012My Profile

  13. Wow- amazing time, but especially with flip flops! That is seriously impressive.
    I saw a guy barefoot at the start of the RnR Denver. I’d love to know how he finished.
    Abby @ Change of Pace recently posted..A rainy long weekend away & Ironman excitementMy Profile

  14. I can’t even imagine…. He must be super fast without the flops!
    Kristy (@KristyH5) recently posted..Weekly Log – ListeningMy Profile

  15. Oh. My. Gosh. This is the coolest thing!! I love stuff like this!! Way to go man!

  16. There was a guy in the Air Force marathon that ran in flip flops. I can’t even begin to imagine. If I wear flip flops or anything that goes in between my toes, I get a blister.
    Joanne recently posted..Mizuno Wave Rider 16 ReviewMy Profile

  17. I think that’s simply amazing. That he did it and did it so well! Good for him. I bet it made the whole experience a little more interesting. Also when you have something else to focus on during a marathon, other then the normal stuff, it helps.
    Robin recently posted..Marathon #8 is Done!My Profile

  18. Holy moly, that is impressive! There is a lady in Spokane who runs in sandals and she does 1/2 marathons all of the time. I can still barely run in the Pure Connects!
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..My guest postMy Profile

  19. I’m curious..what’s his marathon time in more traditional shoes?
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Do You Leak? Why It Happens and How To Stop Peeing Yourself on the RunMy Profile

  20. Absolutely crazy! I can barely get a cross my yard chasing my dog in flip flops! LOL! Amazing – curious to see what he comes up with for his next races.
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Kona Kase ReviewMy Profile

  21. Wow! That’s amazing! Not sure I could run in flip-flops.
    Betsy recently posted..Tuesday with TiffanyMy Profile

  22. Ohmygosh that’s crazy! I’m just thinking of the fact that I inevitably get plantar fasciitis when I wear flip flops too much. Great job Keith!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..What kind of race spectator are you?My Profile

  23. Ok… so I run minimalist and sometimes barefoot. Most of my running is in huaraches of different styles… and people always call them flip flops. I can’t tell from the pic, but did he truly run in dime store flip flops? The kind without a heel strap? That is amazing… huaraches aren’t hard to run in, since they basically stick to the sole of your foot, but can’t imagine the sole flopping up and down in a traditional flip flop… amazing!

  24. This is crazy to me. I can hardly walk around in flip flops for too long, let alone run a marathon in them. Definitely an interesting story! Unfathomable to me, but amazing!
    Amanda @ Run Principessa recently posted..Total Bookworm MomentMy Profile

  25. Wow!! That is pretty cool! I’ve ran a very short distance in flip flops and it hurt. I’d never think to run an entire marathon in them. Good for him!!
    shelly recently posted..Prevent InjuriesMy Profile

  26. Wow! I don’t know how he did that. I would be tripping every 10 feet:) Way to go Keith!
    hikermom recently posted..Lazy, Sick, or Lack of Sun?My Profile

  27. Holy schmokes! I would not attempt that…my feet would hate me forever! lol

    Good on him for pushing through and flip flopping his way there! Awesome.
    Kierston recently posted..Part I ~ Meet The Girls of FFA!My Profile

  28. Only a runner would do something so crazy. Congrats to him!!
    Candice recently posted..Remembering the 2012 St. George MarathonMy Profile

  29. i initially think “ouch” but then applaud him for doing so! 2:46 in flip flops — that’s incredible!
    Kristy recently posted..18 miles of thoughtsMy Profile

  30. Why does this make me SO uncomfortable?! Just put trainers on for goodness sake! :D It amazes me that for some the challenge of a VERY fast marathon is not enough, nah got to do it in flip flops too! Imagine running near him, that noise for 26.2 miles would drive you nuts ;D I hope he didn’t hurt himself?!

  31. I just saw this on RW and thought HE”S NUTS! My ankles and shins hurt from just spending the day walking in flip flops. What’s even more crazy is his time. Holy cow!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Where’s Your Dream Race?My Profile

  32. I would definitely wipe out after a few strides if I ran in flip flops! He’s got strong feet!
    Molly recently posted..Lego’s and Straight Leg’sMy Profile

  33. Wow, that is amazing! lol

    Main thing I can think of is I hope he lathered his feet in anti chafing cream or his feet would probably be cut up like no other! And what about the non-stop sound of the flip flops hitting the ground? That must have drove him insane haha
    Nelly recently posted..Football games galoreMy Profile

  34. Interesting. I wonder if I could run one in horseshoes…
    Jamoosh recently posted..Is a Marathon or Halfathon a Race or an Activity?My Profile

  35. Wow. Just wow. Amazing. I am so impressed!
    Kate @ Run with Kate recently posted..Then and Now: How Life Has ChangedMy Profile

  36. I’m a fan of barefoot or minimalist running, but flip flops? Wow, I’d kill myself trying to do that, and I can’t imagine the unusual strain it would put on your lower leg and foot muscles having to grip the flip flop. My concern would be developing a strange muscular imbalance from having to do that.

    But, wow, that’s impressive. That’s a great time, period, but in flip flops? Beast.
    Jonathan Aluzas recently posted..Food For Fitness: Turkey Pumpkin ChiliMy Profile

  37. I think it’s freakin’ crazy… but so is his time! Amazing!
    Run with Jess recently posted..Crack the TrackMy Profile

  38. Whoa, that’s awesome and weird and awesome! I think I would rather run barefoot personally, but hey, to each his own. I bet his feet and ankles WERE tired!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Swann Dives InMy Profile

  39. That is so crazy! I could understand wearing those sandal thingies meant for running, but I can’t imagine running any distance in flip flops, let alone a marathon. I think he’s amazing!
    Kristen recently posted..Making progess, sort of…My Profile

  40. Running in flip-flops seems crazy to me, since I can’t even walk with them without stumbling. Still, I think it’s amazing. Would have loved to see all the faces of the other marathoners!
    Nina recently posted..Joining A (Triathlon) ClubMy Profile

  41. wondering which brand did he wear?

  42. Holy crap… that’s amazing! Way to go Keith!

  43. Dang! That’s impressive.
    He needs to get a sponsorship deal from the manufacturer of those flip flops. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a pair of flip flops that would hold up to a marathon!
    Jesse recently posted..Picking Up The PaceMy Profile

  44. I would have thought his foot would have been cut in half. As far as non-traditional marathons, I ran the Wisconsin Dells Marathon about 10 days ago pushing my daughter in a jog stroller. No where near the world record though, I am pretty sure Michael Wardian holds that one even faster than Mr. Flip Flop. I loved every minute of it (as did my daughter).
    Bill recently posted..Race Report – Wisconsin Dells Honky Tonk MarathonMy Profile

  45. That’s really fast!

    I completed 5K on flipflops yesterday. The only problems I notice are the need to slightly curl your toes to keep your grip on the flip flops and the blister formation on the skin between the thumb and index toes (not sure with the terms).

    Other than that, my feet were more free compared to running on shoes (MT20 and Puna FAAS). It could also be because I was used to running on flip flops as a kid.


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