Here's more evidence that barefoot running is a movement, not a fad: The inaugural New York City Barefoot Run takes place Sunday morning, Oct. 10, on Governors Island.
A number of barefoot running's leading proponents will participate, including Dan Lieberman of Harvard University. Lieberman's study of the biomechanics of foot strikes provided the scientific credibility that reinforced the popularity of barefoot running generated by author Christopher McDougall's best-seller Born to Run.
Organizers emphasize that the event, which starts at 8:30 a.m., is a run, not a race. Walkers are invited to take part as well. Participants can complete as many 2.1-mile loops around Governors Island as they like (until 10 a.m.). Some runners plan to run in a pack over variable surfaces, in different directions and at changing speeds.
People can wear any form of running shoe they choose, or none at all. Organizers recommend that participants have never previously run barefoot or in minimalist footwear, bring familiar footwear to the event. As their website points out: "Try out barefoot/minimalist for stretches, but now is not the time to prove how tough you are. Start slow."
Denise Friend, one of REI's product managers for footwear, endorses a start-slow strategy for runners and walkers intrigued by the minimalist movement. "But it is a movement, not a fad," she says. "The number of styles REI is carrying is exploding this spring. Nike, Merrell, Saucony and New Balance are all introducing new styles."
Among current best-sellers: The running-specific Vibram FiveFingers Bikila (in men's and women's), the ever-popular Vibram FiveFingers KSO Multisport (in men's and women's), and the recently released Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport (in men's and women's), featuring an even grippier outsole suitable for both road and trail running.
Online registration ($35) closes on tonight (Oct. 8). Walk-ups can register in person ($40; cash only) at run-related events on Saturday or Sunday.
Governors Island is also the site of Governors Island National Monument. The monument is participating in Open House New York Weekend Oct. 9-10. Birdwatchers can volunteer to participate in the island's annual Autumn Bird Census on Saturday (10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.). National Park Service volunteer birding expert Annie Berry will be on hand to lead the effort. Sunday is the last day the monument is open for this season.