With temperatures starting to drop and less daylight everyday, fall is coming, and bringing with it a crop of fabulous races! Fall—with its lower but still moderate temperatures—is a particularly good time to race barefoot because manmade and natural surfaces alike will be both pliable and cool, an ideal combination for those running barefoot and in minimalist shoes. To help with your planning, we’ve scouted three races around the country and one in Canada that have what barefoot and minimalist runners are looking for:
- Permission to run naturally. While few races explicitly forbid barefoot runners, you don’t want to wait until race day to find out whether your bare toes will be greeted with smiles or frowns. We have checked with Race Directors and each of the races included on our list specifically permits and welcomes barefoot runners.
- Inviting surfaces. If you are an experienced barefoot runner, you might not hesitate to try out the rocky trails that characterize runs such as the Western States Endurance Run or the Badwater 100, but most runners will want to touch down on more welcoming surfaces, and these races offer that.
- A way to pass the miles. The start and finish line of every race offer the cheering crowds and the companionship of other runners that can get your adrenaline pumping overtime, but along the way, many runners appreciate something to look at or experience that helps those middle miles fly by. These races all offer scenery, entertainment, or some other element that keeps you going when the going gets tough.
- (Something like That Secret Ingredient). The best races offer more than just a pretty place to run, more than just a cheering crowd, more than just a cool T-shirt: They have something that keeps runners coming back year after year.
Race: Vasque Golden Leaf Half Marathon
Date: September 25, 2010
Location: Aspen, CO
Surface: Paved road and dirt trails, including some sections with roots, rocks, and boulders.
Why you should enter: Trail Runner magazine selected this race as one of the most scenic courses in America, and runners should see plenty of fall foliage, but this race isn’t just pretty to look at—it’s challenging and has a varied terrain of mountain trails and roads. Oh, and did we mention the elevation? This race starts at 8,600 feet and peaks at just a little over 9,600 feet.
$40 through September 11
$50 September 12-24
$60 Race Day
Race: Run Crazy Horse Half Marathon and Marathon
Date: Sunday, October 3, 2010
Location: Hill City, SD
Surface: Most of the race is run on the Mickelson Trail, a beautiful paved and hard-packed dirt trail through the Black Hills.
Why you should enter: This inaugural race starts in the shadow of the Crazy Horse Memorial which, when it is complete, will be XXX the size of neighboring Mt. Rushmore.
Cost: $65 Half Marathon, $75 Marathon
Race: Trapline Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K
Date: Saturday Oct. 9, 2010
Location: Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada
Surface: Paved road
Why you should enter: The race follows the traditional route trappers took to tend to their traps in the fall. At the finish line, runners will find trappers tents, local entertainers, and will be treated to flummies, a traditional trapper food made of fried dough and served with molasses.
Cost: $60 marathon; $40 half marathong, $20 10K (all prices Canadian)
Race: Columbia River Power Marathon, Half Marathon, and Marathon relay
Date: Saturday October 23, 2010
Location: Umatilla, OR
Surface: Paved road, five miles of loose sand trail, pedestrian path, and across the McNary Dam
Why you should enter: Not only do you get to run along a stretch of the Lewis and Clark trail, you will also run part of this race in Washington, making it a two-state marathon!
Before 8/30 $65
Before 9/29 $ 70
Before 10/21 $80
Before 8/30 $35
Before 9/29 $40
Before 10/21 $50
$25.00 per person
Maximum 8 participants per team.
What are your favorite barefoot friendly fall races (of any distance)?
Photo Credit: Aunt Owwee on Flickr