Saturday, October 30, 2010

Famous Barefoot Runners: Tegla Lourupe

Clearly I should spend more time following women's running: it seems to be where the best barefooters are. 

We all know of Zola Budd (now Zola Pieterse), but she ran back in the 80s.  There was a girl who won the Cross Country Worlds last year bare foot, but the whine I always hear is, "There are no elite runners today who run barefoot.  Nyah nyah."  Well... (Emphases below mine.)

"Loroupe holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres and previously held the world marathon record. She is the three-time World Half-Marathon champion. She was the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon, which she has won twice. She has won marathons in London, Boston, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Berlin, Rome and many of other cities....

"...At the age of seven she started school, making her run of ten kilometres to and from school every morning. At school, she became aware of her potential as an athlete when she beat others years older at school races held over a distance of 800 or 1500 metres. She decided to pursue a career as a runner, but - except for her mother - was not supported by anyone.

"The Kenyan athletics federation, Athletics Kenya, did not support her at first, thinking Loroupe too small and too thin. However, after she won a prestigious cross country barefoot race in 1988, this changed. She began to train to compete internationally the following year, earning her first pair of running shoes in 1989, which she wore only for particularly rough races....

"...In 1994 and 1998, Loroupe won the Goodwill Games over 10,000 metres, barefoot....

"...During the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, favored to win both the marathon and the 10,000 meters, she suffered from violent food poisoning the night before the race. Nevertheless she fought through the marathon race, finishing 13th, then, the next day, ran the 10,000 metres, finishing 5th, running barefoot in both races, a feat she later stated she achieved out of a sense of duty to all the people taking her as a bearer of hope in her home country...."

Neat stuff.  It's nice to see that an elite runner in the modern era can still be competitive in her bare feet.

Via this nice, well-researched article.