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Did Abebe Bikala run a marathon without running shoes?

The marathon is a challenging distance to run; it is 26.2 miles of hard running. It can be hard on the body, especially the feet which explains why all marathon runners spend such a lot of attention to what is on their feet. They invest considerable time finding the right running shoes and plenty of money is associated with running shoes. Back at the 1960 Rome Olympics, the Ethiopian, Abebe Bikala arrived for the marathon and there were no running shoes left in the teams kit which would fit him, so he ran the marathon barefoot and won the gold medal. This is often commonly acclaimed as a incredible achievement. Recently there has been a group of runners that are implying the running footwear is not all they're believed to be and are recommending that running should be carried out barefoot, much like nature intended. After all, we were not given birth to with shoes and historical humans had to run great distances without running shoes to survive as animals had to be hunted on foot over great distances. Running footwear are actually only a relatively recent invention.

Runners who suggest the barefoot way of running love to point out the achievements of Abebe Bikala as additional validation that we do not require running shoes. There are obviously a great many other arguments both for and against barefoot running, with little or no scientific evidence underpinning it. While Abebe Bikala obtaining the gold medal at the Rome Olympics barefoot obviously suggest that it is possible, what those who like to promote his accomplishments as proof often leave out that he later went on to get the gold medal as well as set a world record in the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games. Abebe Bikala managed to set the world record on this occasion wearing running shoes; in other words he had the ability to run faster when he was wearing running shoes. We might well have evolved to run without running shoes, but we also evolved in an surroundings before concrete and hard surfaces came along. While the accomplishments of Bikala were extraordinary, using him as proof that it is better doesn't stack up to scrutiny.