It worked well for world record breaker Zola Budd and now Rosie Hughes is also a confirmed fan of running barefoot.
Rosie, 24, of Colwyn Bay, completed a half-marathon without trainers recently to raise funds for a local family whose lives were devastated following two house break-ins.
Big hearted Rosie, a well-known North Wales footballer who plays for Denbigh Town and formerly turned out for Kinmel Bay, Llandudno and Colwyn Bay, completed the 13.1 mile distance shoe-less and collected £1,000 for the fantastic cause.
South Africa born Budd set a world record for the 5,000m at the age of 17 and became a household name for running barefoot. She registered as a British citizen in April 1984 in time for her to compete at the Los Angeles Olympic Games four months later.
While Rosie is not targeting such heights, she insisted after her fine feat that running is better without trainers every time.
“The run went a lot better than expected, with that in mind I’m not too sure what it is I was actually expecting,” said Rosie.
“I woke up on the morning of Saturday the 7th (November) with the sun shining through my window. It already felt like a great day, I woke up made myself porridge and had a banana.
“I walked to the car without my shoes on and felt extremely nervous as to how cold the floor felt, but I told myself it was still early and from my previous training I knew they would only go numb and actually made it easier when I couldn’t feel them.
“My wonderful mother Mandy accompanied me, along with two runners from the Porth Eirias Runners group, Bethan Williams and Mal Priest.
“We started off together, I would say the start was where I struggled the most as I had 13 miles to go, and Llandudno’s prom isn’t as pretty on your feet as it looks.
“Once we got to the Little Orme I felt better getting into the swing of running. I was also cheered on by more Porth Eirias Runners. At this point it was myself and Mandy running together as the other two couldn’t keep down with our pace.
“By the time we reached Rhos-on-Sea. I felt happy as I could see Porth Eirias and in my head I knew that was the half-way point. Mandy had to use the bathroom, I did tell her to ‘do a Paula Radcliffe’ however she ended up using a toilet and that’s where I lost her.
“So the rest of my run was on my own, however I felt elated and enjoyed it by myself with my own thoughts…as well as listening to my playlist which does have an array of music on.”
Rosie thanked everyone for their support and said the family she helped were extremely grateful.
“I think the family appreciate my support as well as the money. We don’t talk much about what happened, however I really hope they know the reason I did this was because I feel so strongly towards them.
“I felt helpless at the time and no amount of money will change or replace what was stolen but they were and still are in my thoughts so if I can give them memories to cherish with the money then that makes me happy.”
Asked if the route presented any problems, Rosie said: “I wouldn’t say there were any problems along the route apart from the different terrains that I had to deal with.
“I was running on stones, grass, cycle paths, new and old concrete. At around 8 miles I felt something wet in between my toes, I knew I hadn’t stood in a puddle so I could only assume it was blood.
“At that distance, however I definitely wasn’t going to stop to check. It was the first thing I did once I completed the 13.1 miles and I can confirm it was blood. My feet were surprisingly okay. I felt more pain in my ankles and my hips, but I think this was because I was trying so hard for my feet not to hurt that I was tensing my legs cause tightness in my muscles.”
And would she do it all again?
Rosie replied: “I would 100% do it all again. I much prefer running without trainers. I have completed 2 half marathons now, the first one I had trainers on and completed it in 1 hour 42 minutes and my second half marathon was this one without trainers, completing it in 2 hours 21 minutes. I much preferred my second half marathon all day long.
“I like to be different and I liked all the strange looks I got along the way. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone that donated, as that’s where the support was needed.
“And an even bigger thank you to my friends that came to watch me finish – Ellen, Shannie, Lauren and Rhian. I had been lonely recently and they reminded me what great friends I really do have and will always have.
“Thanks of course to my mother Mandy and all at Porth Eirias Runners club. This is a running group based in Colwyn Bay who have individuals with all different abilities from beginners that have never ran before, to the more elite crazy ones that do marathons.
“It is also a massive support group for those in the local area as they do lots of social things including drinking gin and champagne whilst running. We always welcome new starters and you can them via Facebook.”
So what’s next for this young athlete?
“I feel like I need a new challenge now, as much as I struggled to sleep every night thinking how on earth am I doing this and what on earth have I decided to do. I now lose sleep thinking I have nothing to focus on.
“I’m so pleased that I managed to do this, and will be something I can cherish forever. But I need something new to do.”