Esperanza 5K – America’s Most Barefoot Friendly Race?

by Abbie on February 27, 2011

When I received an email from Esperanza 5K’s Race Director, Becky Dawson, she told me that this race not only welcomed the barefoot running community but even had a separate awards category for barefoot runners!  I definitely wanted to know more…

The Esperanza 5K is going to be held in Plano, Texas, next weekend, March 5th.

I emailed Becky to get some more information about the race that could potentially be America’s most barefoot friendly!

Barefoot Running: Tell me a little bit about the race and what makes it special!

Becky Dawson: - The Esperanza 5K Race benefits Juntos Servimos. It is in support of the work of Dr. Nancy Rodriguez and Larry Cox at Casa Bugambilia near Matamoros, Mexico. Casa Bugambilia shelters ill and abandoned persons until they can be reunited with their families, and is a center for diabetes prevention and treatment that provides medical care and physical therapy to people without access to quality health care. Casa Bugambilia advances the education of children through preschool learning readiness classes, tutoring and education enrichment. Custer Road UMC, the host of the race, has supported this mission for approximately 10 years.

Last year, we had almost 600 participants and raised $23,000 for Juntos Servimos.

BF Running: When and why did you decide to have a barefoot category?

BD: In a January 2011 meeting with a mentor and former running coach, Patton Gleason, the idea of a barefoot category was discussed, and was then decided based on three factors.

First, one of our goals of the race is to reach out to the community. Second, we are seeking out training groups to increase our participation and extending invitations to the race. Lastly, we want to be the first and perhaps the only race to have a barefoot category and to embrace the barefoot community.

Esperanza medal, hand-painted by the children in Matamoras

BF Running: How did you decide on the main rule for the category being completely barefoot, no minimalist shoes?

BD: This was indeed a difficult decision and was discussed at length. We researched it and consulted running colleagues who run barefoot and in minimalist shoes. The decision was based on how to determine what would “qualify” as a minimalist shoe. It would be too difficult on race day to have a shoe check for the people who had registered for the barefoot category. In other words, do we start at Newtons or Nike Frees? Or is it only Vibrams and barefoot?

Also, we are using the new B-tags timing system – the tags stay on the bibs. This way, we can accurately time the barefoot runners.

It’s very exciting to see a race reaching out to the barefoot running community, and here’s to hoping that many more follow suit! Please share any other barefoot friendly races that might be happening in your area!

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