Hunter Gatherer

Brimming with ideas and a fascinating read. STEVEN PINKER, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

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Running injury? Win a free coaching session with Lee Saxby at the NYCBR

Have a running injury?  Want Lee Saxby, the best coach in the business, to analyze your form?

As part of the NYCBR Saturday clinics, VIVOBAREFOOT and Lee Saxby are offering ten 1-on-1 coaching sessions focused on runners who have injuries.  Each session will be about 30 minutes long.  VIVOBAREFOOT will be setting up a generator, treadmill, and computer for playback at the Battery Park Lawn.  

It’s only for people who have signed up for the run – if so, you can apply here.  Tell VIVOBAREFOOT about your injury.  They’re accepting applicants through September 15th, so move quickly.

I’m going on a persistence hunt


I’m going on a persistence hunt in Wyoming this weekend.  Barefoot Ted is assembling a team of special ops Luna Sandals space monkeys. We’re hunting pronghorn antelope.  

I’m quite sure that I’ll be the worst runner by far.  But it’s not about that.  Persistence hunting is a team sport, and it’s about your team keeping that animal above it’s trot-gallop transition speed as much as possible.  Mammals, except humans, don’t sweat — they pant, and when you keep them in a gallop, they can’t pant.  So they overheat and die.  I’ll carry water as far as my legs will take me.  And of course, hunger will be a powerful motivator.

Many of you have probably seen this, but here’s the awesome (and successful) persistence hunt footage in the Kalahari.

To hear what will surely be an epic story, whether we succeed or fail, don’t forget to sign up for the New York City Barefoot Run on September 24-25th.

NYT interviews Dan Lieberman, NYCBR speaker

Awesome interview with Harvard Professor Dan Lieberman in the New York Times — and not just on barefoot running.  Dr. Lieberman will be speaking at the New York City Barefoot Run coming up on September 24-25th.

Q. Are there any practical benefits to your research?

A. There are. A majority of the undergraduates who register for my evolutionary anatomy and physiology class here at Harvard are pre-medical students. Learning this will help them become better doctors. Many of the conditions they’ll be treating are rooted in the mismatch between the world we live in today and the Paleolithic bodies we’ve inherited.

For example, impacted wisdom teeth and malocclusions are very recent problems. They arise because we now process our food so much that we chew with little force. These interactions affect how our faces grow, which causes previously unknown dental problems. Hunter-gatherers — who live in ways similar to our ancestors — don’t have impacted wisdom teeth or cavities. There are many other conditions rooted in the mismatch — fallen arches, osteoporosis, cancer, myopia, diabetes and back trouble. So understanding evolutionary biology will definitely help my students when they become orthopedists, orthodontists and craniofacial surgeons.

Q. Is your research part of a trend?

A. It’s part of this movement to try to listen to evolution in our bodies. We evolved to eat different diets, to run differently and live differently from the ways we do today. People are looking to evolution to find out how our bodies adapted and what might be healthier for us. That’s good.

You’re damn right it’s part of a trend.  Welcome to the epicenter of the health revolution.  The full interview is here, and you can get your tickets for NYCBR here.

Vikings to attend the NYCBR

Here’s a one minute interview with Petur, who is flying in from a distant location for the New York City Barefoot Run on September 24-25th.  At the end of the video, learn about his weirdly awesome and really paleo favorite food.

Sign up today!

Announcing the 2011 New York City Barefoot Run

I'm happy to announce the 2011 Annual New York City Barefoot Run is now open for registration.  And it's gonna be awesome.  We have a brand new website up at with all the details (click on NYCBR 2011).  It's happening on the weekend of September 24th-25th, 2011.  The location is, of course, New York City — and like last year, the run will take place on scenic Governors Island in New York Harbor.

We have an amazing line-up of Kudus this year.  Not only is everyone from last year coming back for seconds, but we have some new speakers, coaches, and runners.  It's basically the Who's Who of minimalist running…and if a Who isn't on the list, we're gonna try to get them to come over the next few months.

  • Christopher McDougall
  • Professor Dan Lieberman
  • Barefoot Ted
  • Barefoot Ken Bob
  • Erwan Le Corre
  • Jason Robillard
  • Michael Sandler
  • Daniel Howell
  • Lee Saxby
  • Esther Ghokale (posture and back health)
  • and more…

You can see all their bios here: Meet the Kudus.

So start making plans and register.  We're offering a discounted Early Bird Rate of $65 for people who register before midnight EST on April 10th.  I don't think I have to say that $65 is dirt cheap for a two-day event in New York City with this kind of line-up.  You get admission to all clinics, talks, and the run; a free tech tee; a bag full of discounts from sponsors; food and drink at the run; ferry rides to and from the island; food at the run; and a chance to hang out with all the other participants and Kudus.

So go register already!

(Oh, and show NYCBR some love on facebook.)

Video highlights from the NYC Barefoot Run

For anyone who couldn't attend the NYC Barefoot Run, here's a little bit of what you missed.  Really happy with how this video turned out — captures that this was really more than a run.  Please share far and wide and seed some excitement for next year.  And yes, the rumors are true: the theme of next year's run is "Clothes…what are they good for?"  Still working on the permits.

If you want to be the first to know about next year's run, sign up here.  Here's my earlier write-up with pictures.


Official highlights from the 1st Annual New York City Barefoot Run from John Durant on Vimeo.

How to shotgun a beer out of a running shoe

There are certain life skills that every civilized man should have.  Knowing how to tie a bow tie.  Writing a proper thank you note.  Slamming a beer out of a dirty old running shoe.  This "how to" video demonstrates a great way to re-purpose a high-heeled running shoe — by turning it into a beer distribution mechanism.  

Christopher McDougall, this one is for you.  You'll see why.  Hunter-gatherers were generous and loyal to their friends, and terrible with their enemies.  Just saying.  See you at the 2nd Annual New York City Barefoot Run.

Don't forget this upcoming event in NYC Marathon event with McDougall, Lieberman, Barefoot Ted, and yours truly.

Barefoot Professor hits Drudge, MSNBC

Daniel Howell, one of our special guests at the NYC Barefoot Run and author of The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons to Kick-off Your Shoes, has been getting some national news coverage.  Here's a short piece in the Washington Post (which got picked up by The Drudge Report) and below is his interview on MSNBC.  If you're interested in why going barefoot more often might be good for you, even if you don't run, then have a listen.  Shoes are a tool — nothing more, nothing less.  Congrats, Daniel!


And Jason Robillard writes a nice recap of the NYC Barefoot Run: "A Behind-the-Scenes Look at History in the Making".

Thank you for an amazing inaugural New York City Barefoot Run

What an awesome, awesome weekend. I'm very pleased (and relieved) to announce that the 1st Annual New York City Run was a great success. I'm kind of blown away because it really could not have gone any better.  The event logistics went off without a hitch, the weather was unbelievable, the enthusiasm from participants was off the charts, the running clinics with Barefoot Ted and Jason Robillard were packed, Dan Lieberman's presentation and panel discussion were a home run, and the run itself was a blast. It was all just so, so good.
Some stats:
  • About 265 people ended up registering for the run, and we had around 300 people at the run itself.  I don't know if this qualifies as the largest official barefoot or minimalist running event, but it well may.  (If you don't count recess at any number of Kenyan schools.)
  • Over 25% of participants came from outside the tri-state area (NY, CT, NJ), which is awesome. Truly a destination event. Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Alabama, Sweden, one guy even re-routed his trip from Israel through NYC for the run.
  • From conception to execution, we pulled off the event in about two and half months. And we only had the site up for people to register for about one month. Not bad…makes you wonder what we can do next year when we actually have some time to plan and promote!
  • Barefoot Runners NYC was founded on November 7th, 2009…less than a year ago.  What a year.
  • Terra Plana ended up raffling off over $2,500 worth of shoes and apparel.  With contributions from Tip Top Shoes, Injinji, Luna Sandals, and all of our barefoot running leaders, we had well over 50 prizes.  (As someone joked, it's not that lucky people won something — it's that unlucky people didn't win.)
A few memorable funny moments:
  • In Daniel Howell's excellent Saturday AM talk, he compared wearing shoes to smoking cigarettes…while in a shoe store surrounded by shoe salesmen. I thought he was going to get a shoe horn to the head. Possible to use a different metaphor, Daniel?
  • Barefoot Ted found a crabapple tree during the run, and started passing out crabapples to runners. Also, Ted ran part of the course backwards backwards…which is definitely not the same as running it forwards.  (Said another way, he was running backwards, around the course in the wrong direction.)
  • Dan Lieberman ran one of the longest distances of any of the 250+ runners. 17 miles or so, gearing up for the New York City Marathon. Now that's an academic who doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walks.  (And runs the run.)
  • Erwan Le Corre kindly helped me carry cases and cases of bananas up six flights of stairs to my apartment. Let it be known that Erwan's banana carrying capacity is double mine.  Not that there was any doubt…I just wanted to quantify (in bananas) how much stronger Erwan is than I am.  250 bananas stronger.
  • Jason Robillard wore his running kilt to the run. Apparently when we told Jason that Governors Island was going to be breezy and to dress accordingly, he did. Think Marylin Monroe, but more Scottish and manly.  But just as sexy.
  • I fell deeply in love with my new ThunderPower 400 Megaphone. (Tagline: "You WILL be heard!") Even if the event had bombed, I still would have had this wonderful, wonderful toy. You'll see the megaphone surface in a few of the blog reviews.


Comments, blog posts, and reviews:

  • Barefoot Ted: "First Annual NYC Barefoot Run was a HUGE success. Loved it and look forward to going again next year."
  • Jason Robillard: "Attention all barefoot/minimalist runners- start making plans to attend the 2nd annual NYC Barefoot Run. This has been an amazing experience thus far!"
  • Daniel Howell: "What an amazing 1st NYC barefoot run. If you didn't make it this year, you MUST make it next year!"
  • Erwan Le Corre: "Fantastic people, event, weather, experience: 1st annual NYC barefoot run, beautifully organized by John and his sister Maggie Durant."
  • At Birthday Shoes: "I plan to be back next year."  (And we want you too next year, Justin Owings.)
  • Paleo Playbok: "The star of the show was Dan Lieberman, the Harvard University scientist who studies the anatomical efficiencies of human locomotion. In a truly remarkable presentation, he covered the science behind the sport from early human history up to Newtonian physics."
  • Fifth Ape: "It was an amazing event."
  • Hunt Gather Love
  • Nathan Matthews
  • Barefoot Fresca
  • Cro-Modern
Photos and video:
I'll let you know when we have official video and pictures ready, but here are a bunch of participant pics and video.  I've also put a few down below.
And some very essential thank you's:
Dan Lieberman, Barefoot Ted, Erwan Le Corre, Jason Robillard, and Daniel Howell – Thank you for taking a risk on an unproven event!  You helped set the tenor of the run as: scientific and skeptical, collaborative, educational, and fun.
Volunteers – Our volunteers were the best.  From ordering bibs and banners, carrying boxes of bananas all over the city, finding a store that sells ice on Sunday at 6am, selling t-shirts, registration, hosting out-of-town runners, doing bag check, pounding in signs, everything.  Couldn't have done it without you.  Barefoot Runners NYC rules. 
Vivobarefoot - Patty and Ralph at Terra Plana were awesome. They approached me at our Christopher McDougall run about this, and they immediately got the vision of what this event could become. The Lieberman lecture and panel discussion at their store was truly exceptional.  My only regret is that the Terra Plana store isn't going to be large enough to host talks next year, because we filled the store this year with 100+ people.
Tip Top Shoes – Danny and Lester Wasserman wrote us a check in our first year, with no track record, and about a month before the event. They have a history of spotting things that could be big: they were the first independent retailer in NYC to stock VFFs, their account number at Birkenstock is 150 or so — so they actually looked forward to being first.  We'll be running out of Tip Top this winter.
Injinji and Vita Coco – Both Injinji and Vita Coca stepped up at the last minute to contribute product to the run.  Injinji donated a bunch of socks to the raffle, and Vita Coco contributed some delicious coconut water (that disappeared very quickly).
My sister, Maggie Durant – Maggie put more time into this event than any other person, including myself. I could not have pulled off a world class event in just two months without her.
Barefoot Ted said just after we met on Saturday, "I like the optimism and boldness in calling it an annual event." Damn right.  We'll see you back here next year for the 2nd Annual New York City Barefoot Run. It's on. 

How clothing companies lie to spare your feelings

I've been trying on a lot of T-shirts in preparation for the NYC Barefoot Run this weekend.  One thing is very clear: T-shirt manufacturers are gaming the size charts.  People get fatter, so rather than making more L, XL, and XXL shirts, they shift the size chart down so that those bigger sizes are now called M, L, and XL.  Ever go to some charity or corporate event and get a free T-shirt?  And the T-shirt is always too big given the size, and they only have XLs (i.e., XXLs) left over?  Yeah, we're trying to avoid that for the NYC Barefoot Run.

It's not just t-shirts.  Esquire recently did an investigation into men's pant sizes, and found that most companies were lying about the listed waistline.  The worst offender?  Old Navy, whose size 36 pants measured an actual 41 inches — a whopping 5 inches larger.  That's not "running a little big", that's called lying.

Take a look.  (Gap was 3 inches larger than stated.  Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic are all the same company — I'd bet that Banana Republic was between 1 and 2 inches larger than stated.  Old Navy > Gap > Banana Republic.)

Apparently, our self esteem now depends on self-delusion.  Our egos, built on positive reinforcement, are just too fragile to hear it like it is.  Well people, here's a little tough love, straight from me to you.