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. says

    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

  2. says

    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

  3. says

    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!

  4. says

    Why does this make me SO uncomfortable?! Just put trainers on for goodness sake! 😀 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?!

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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

  7. says

    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

  8. says

    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.