Maybe I got caught up in the hype and excitement of reading Born to Run by ChristopherMcDougall. At the time I had not run further than 13.1 miles, finishing my first half marathon in a time of 1:58 after talking up running only 4 months earlier. After that run a co-worker recommended Born to Run and I was hooked! Much like finishing my first 50k on a runner’s high, I wanted to run…long distances. Inspired by the Rarámuri or Tarahumara I looked to transition to running sandals. If running was not enough I wanted to challenge myself and wear Luna Sandals for Tough Mudder.
I compared Luna Sandals with a competitor’s product (Xero Shoes) and based solely on price I bought the competitor’s “do it yourself” sandals. The learning curve was quite steep and I ended up with many blisters, sore feet and calves as I learned the proper way to run while wearing sandals. Eventually, the pain subsided and my feet toughened up and running in sandals felt refreshing.
Back in May I bought my first pair of Luna Sandals, after reading reviews and looking over the inventory for a pair of trail sandals. With my decision made I purchased the Leadville Pacer and awaited the package to arrive from Seattle, Washington. There was a shipping mix up and my sandals arrival were delayed, but I did get to speak with Barefoot Ted that in itself was cool.
The addition of the Tech Straps, which came standard on this sandal allowed my heel to remain securely in place and were comfortable. I snugged up the buckle on the nylon strap and I was off and running. The only problem I had with the Tech Straps came when they got wet. The nylon wanted to stretch the long tighter I pulled these straps, the less Velcro I had to keep them attached to. At no point did the straps ever come loose. When they completely dried after the event, the nylon straps returned to normal with no extra slack in them.
The Lunas were 5mm thicker than what I had run with before and it was very comfortable. Of course I wouldn’t really know how well they would respond until I hit the trails. Much like strapping you foot into sandals for the first time, it took me awhile to transition to the the Lunas for trail running.
Last year I purchased a pair of Salomon Speed Cross 3 trail shoes for Tough Mudder. After 11 miles and 20 obstacles, my feet never dried, I ended up with quite a bit of mud caked on the shoe and between the treads. I still hailed the shoes in a positive light, but I could not get over how sore my toes were. I rechecked at a local shoe store that the shoes I had were the right size.
I went back and forth for a few months, using my Lunas on the short runs while slipping into the Salomon’s for the long trail runs. After every trail run my toes were sore. This was most evident when I ran my first 50k this past April and they were bruised to the point of nearly losing a few toenails. After that run I vowed never to run in trail shoes again.
From that point forward I have worn nothing but my Luna Sandals. Five days a week you can find me wearing my Lunas from work to play and trails I frequent in the local hills. I am not very comfortable in my Lunas and while the occasional rock might find it’s way between my foot and sole, a quick shake and I am back in my stride.
Recently I made the decision to run Tough Mudder in my Lunas. I did not want a repeat performance of last year. I didn’t want my feet to feel miserable. I had some doubts about the sandals and bought my Salomon’s with me…just in case. Well being “Mas Loco!” I left the trail shoes at the bag check and this monkey took to the trails and obstacles in his Lunas.
The experience was beyond anything I imagined! I made sure I tightened the sandals before venturing off to the starting corral. When the horn sounded I was off and in my element. From narrow trails to steep climbs and dusty, rock strewn descents the Lunas were flawless. I felt at home with these sandals and my confidence grew the more miles I put in.
There was a bit of hesitation prior to the start that I might have some problems on the obstacles that required traction or footholds. The soles of my Leadville Pacers were quite worn, as these had turned into my “everyday” footwear. I felt confident enough that with the assistance of my teammates I would overcome any obstacle in my way.
The obstacles that required traction, Everest and Pyramid Scheme, were no problems for the Lunas. I conquered both obstacles without any issues. No slipping or sliding, which was a minor concern prior to starting Tough Mudder. On the climbs, Ladder to Hell, Balls to the Wall and Berlin Walls the Lunas provided enough support and traction that I climbed up and over like a good little monkey.
Through the water obstacles I knew I would get mud and debris between the shoe and my foot. The great thing about this was it was easy enough to clean without requiring me to take my shoes off. Better yet, I would find some loose dirt and kick it between my foot and sandals to shorten the drying time. Once dried the loose sand just fell out. It was awesome! I ran the entire event without wet feet and shoes.
The best part about wearing Lunas to Tough Mudder, they were a real conversation starter. Sure, I saw other participants wearing Vibrams, but I no one else in Lunas or sandals. I had many people ask me about the sandals and many were shocked to learn these were my running shoes. That usually led to a longer conversation about running in sandals. I would pass others up on trails or descents and sometimes I heard, “Look, he’s running flip flops!”
From a short run on pavement to trail running to mud races, I am sold on the Luna Sandals. I was very surprised at how the Lunas performed after 20 obstacles and 11.61 or varying terrain. I knew the trail running would be no issues, but held out hope I could be successful on the obstacles. Thankfully these sandals pulled through. The next Luna challenge, my first 50k next April, the American River 50 Endurance Run. No longer do I need to worry about shoes again, as Lunas fit the bill for my on and off road challenges.
Unlike many others who donated their muddy shoes at the end of Tough Mudder, I hosed them off and they looked brand new. So clean in fact I ended up wearing them for the 2 hour drive home. You would never know I ran Tough Mudder in Luna Sandals.