My Barefoot Half-Marathon in Gothenburg
May 22nd, 2022: The day after
I ran the Gothenburg half marathon barefoot, and in this very moment a painful blood blister and a sore body insists on making me regret it – but I don’t. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had during a race!
Gothenburg’s Half-marathon in Sweden claims to be the world’s largest half marathon – how true that is I don’t know, but I do know that I was the person who got the most cheers during the run this Saturday. Maybe the winners got some more media attention, but whenever there was a crowd, people were yelling “go, go, barefoot guy!” and “good job Alexander!” (The name was on the bib) The amount of people saying “that guy has no shoes” were plentiful, the number of persons jokingly telling me to put the shoes on were a few, and those who thought I was stupid at least kept their thoughts to themselves.
A few people asked me if it was for a bet or a challenge – in a way it was.
I’m not one of those major proponents for the barefoot movement – I run pretty much only in barefoot shoes, sure, but I try to keep that to myself. And no – I’m not in the camp of people who think “earthing” oneself will help me reach a new level of enlightenment or anything – I just love the Lord of the Rings.
A few years ago I walked 3000 kilometres across New Zealand’s long distance trail Te Araroa – a great adventure that I wanted to do barefoot as an “homage” or Frodo, Sam and all the other Hobbits refusing to wear shoes in Middle Earth. I walked some 140 kilometres, just about shy of 100 miles, until I put some on shoes while walking on a gravel road with bleeding feet, and in total I perhaps one fifth or one sixth of the way without any footwear, when the ground allowed me to. Ever since, going barefoot is just one of those things that has become “my thing”. It’s fun to stay in touch with a part of myself that does these things. Running a half-marathon barefoot is a mini-adventure of sorts to me.
Also I hadn’t been training enough, so I wanted an excuse if I were to finish slower than my friend. Which I did. But I was barefoot, so it doesn’t count – right?
Due to not having run the race in a few years, I was in one of the later start groups – group 21. I recall starting in group 2 or maybe even 1 the year after I finished the race in 1 hour and 28 minutes, which is a decent time! Being in a later group meant there were some slower people to cruise by, but I made sure to start slow to get the feel of things. I reached the 10K mark in 48 minutes, and while I never had to to walk, my legs were definitely telling me that they could’ve used some more training!
In my hands during the entire race I had a pair of sandals in case the feet would hurt too much, but not until km 12 did I actually step on anything that hurt – a gravelly section forced me to “tip-tap” for a few hundred metres or so.
After this, thing started to go downhill. Or uphill – while running up towards the Hisingen Bridge I was in a world of pain, and it felt like a sharp rock had lodged itself into my right foot. I sat down on a bench along the track hoping I could get it out with the pair of tweezers I had in my pocket, but alas, there was no stone. Only the worst blood blister I had ever seen on my foot.
Now I was starting to doubt if I could reach the finish line without putting my sandals on. I popped the blister, possibly grossing out anyone looking at me, and kept on running towards the city’s main avenue, Avenyn.
The blister kept on bleeding for a while, and from this point, perhaps kilometre 14, I was in in constant, yet manageable, pain. I like pain. Sometimes when I want to convince myself I’m a tough guy, I say that pain is weakness leaving the body (yes, I know that is stupid), but in truth I get a bit turned on and motivated by it. Not turned in that sense, but you know, it gets me excited, as if pain causes some sort of hormonal rush that millennia of evolution has blessed us with in order to force us to keep running when the going gets tough. The people cheering me on in the city were a big part of what kept me running, and never walking. Not because I didn’t want to look weak, but because they were so encouraging.
As I was getting closer to the finish, I was acutely aware of a great amount of pain in my feet, but still very giddy and happy that I could do it sans-shoes all the way. I’ve a had a few great runner’s highs in my life, and this one was up there with the best.
In pretty much all the races I’ve run, there has always been a sprint with some random guy towards the finish line. This time would be no exception. “I can’t let a barefoot guy beat me!” a guy about my age said, and it was on. Who of us won, is up for the photo finish to say..
I was happy with my finishing time of 1.47:30 – the goal main goal to run completely barefoot I had accomplished, and the second goal of doing it sub 1.50 had also been ticked off. I didn’t beat my friend who finished in 1.40, but hey, at least I have the barefoot excuse. The only races I’ve felt more proud of myself at the finish lines have been during the ultras I’ve run, but not during any of those have I ever had so much pain catch up with me so fast. It turned out that not only was my right foot bleeding, but also my left. In particular it were the toes bleeding that were the worst.
Putting on the sandals and walking to the car picking me up was a hundred times worse than the actual run, the blood acting like some sort of glue between my feet and the sandals. I have no doubt that running is a great pain reducer, but it’s a pain reducer that comes with a debt – and now I was paying that debt in full.
It still hurts like a motherf*****, and I am never again running any more races in this fashion – but dang it, if I didn’t have fun, all thanks to the people cheering me on!
Göteborgsvarvet 2022 barefoot: no doubt the most painful race I’ve taken part of, but a huge contender for my greatest run ever.
Would not recommend, unless you’re a Hobbit.
Four days later:
Dang it, my feet are completely fine now. Next year I’m going for sub 1.40 barefoot. See you then!
Why I've written a book on pooping in the wild
Does a bear shit in the woods? Yes! And so should you.
My name is Alexander. I’m a a former trail developer and a self-proclaimed poop-in-the-wild expert ‘ I’ve even pooped in Mount Doom. I’ve just written, illustrated and released a book n the noble art of pooping in the wild. Anyone can poop in the wild, but the problem with anyone is that they can do it anyhow. Yes, there are wrong ways to poop – especially in the backcountry!
Note: This page contains affiliate links to my own books – purchases made through these links will land me some dough/fat cash/dollarydoos.
Why this book exists
The idea to write this book on how to poop in the wild was born during a meeting where representatives from different nature trails in Sweden talked about people’s tendency to leave mountains of toilet tissue behind them in the backcountry. Stepping in human poo is (in my eyes) something of a mood-killer.
Not only is poop gross – it’s potentially harmful and can in the worst cases spread diseases like E. coli and Giardia – and no one wants to see a trail get closed down due to landowners tired of people pooping carelessly on their land, which is a thing that has been happening more and more in the wake of the pandemic.
While this isn’t the first book on the pooping in the wild, the subject needs a revival.
About the book
How to Poop in the Wild is a guide on how to poop in the backcountry without making a mess of things for others. Where can you poop? Do you have to dig it down? Whatabout toilet paper, and soap?
Pooping in the wild isn’t rocket science, but there are some things to consider in order to make everything go smooth and safe. Are you aware how far away you should be from water sources when pooping? Do you know when and where you cannot bury any toilet paper?
Want the book?
Buy it as an eBook or paperback on Amazon