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Abebe Bikala ran a marathon barefoot and got a gold medal

The marathon is usually a challenging distance to run; it is 26.2 miles of hard running. It can be hard on the body, especially the feet and that's why all marathon runners pay so much attention to exactly what is on their feet. Marathoners invest considerable time finding the appropriate footwear and plenty of money is associated with running shoes. Back at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Abebe Bikala from Ethiopia showed up for the marathon where there were no shoes left in the teams supplies which would fit him, so he ran the marathon barefoot and won the gold medal. This is often commonly praised as a tremendous achievement. In recent years there has been a community of runners that are implying the running footwear is not all they may be believed to be and are recommending that running should be carried out barefoot, the same as nature intended. After all, we were not given birth to with footwear and historical humans were required to run long distances barefoot to live as animals needed to be hunted on foot over great distances.

Running footwear are actually only a quite recent invention. Runners who advocate the barefoot method of running like to point out the achievements of Abebe Bikala as further justification that we have no need for running shoes. There are certainly a great many other arguments both for and against barefoot running, with almost no scientific data supporting it. While Abebe Bikala obtaining the gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics barefoot certainly suggest that it is possible, what those who like to promote his accomplishments as proof often omit that he later went on to win the gold medal and break the world record in the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games. Abebe Bikala managed to set the world record this time wearing running shoes; in other words he had the ability to run faster when he was using running shoes. We might well have evolved to run without running shoes, but we also evolved in an environment ahead of concrete and hard surfaces came along. While the successes of him were remarkable, using him as evidence that barefoot is better doesn't stack up to critique.