Extreme Barefoot Runner Attempts South West Coast Path Record
On 15 September 2022, Britain’s Tony Riddle will attempt to break the running record (Fastest Known Time) for the country’s longest, most challenging National Trail, the South West Coast Path.
The Bare 1000 will see Tony run 1014 kilometres (630 miles) in ten days, traversing over 115,000ft of ascents and descents to beat the current record of 10 days, 8 hours, 24 minutes. Tony will start from Minehead in Somerset and finish at South Haven Point, Dorset on Saturday 24 September.
We asked Tony a few questions ahead of his challenge.
Why the SWCP and why now?
In 2019 I ran the length of the UK in 30 days barefoot, the following year I ran the entire National Three Peaks Challenge from Wales to Scotland (and the peaks barefoot) setting a men’s running record. Both ultra-endurance events were life-changing physically, mentally and emotionally. They also allowed me to raise awareness for important environmental initiatives and indigenous communities while demonstrating what’s possible when we tap into our natural human biology.
For the past four years I’ve also been writing my first book – Be More Human – which has been a mammoth undertaking. Following its release in May this year, it felt right to get back out on the path and share it with as many people as possible. The SWCP is known as one of Britain’s most challenging paths, it’s also incredibly picturesque and right on my doorstep – it made total sense to be my chosen path this time round.
Do you think that running the Path as close to barefoot as possible will be advantageous in your quest to take the FKT of the SWCP?
For this run, I’ll be wearing Vivobarefoot’s revolutionary 3D scan-to-print minimal footwear. It’s basically the closest thing to being barefoot. Their Vivobiomes allow me to maintain my natural biomechanics and won’t compromise my foot strength reducing the risk of injury. Running barefoot is a sensory experience but when you have a sole as thick as a mattress between your feet and the ground it dumbs down your senses. So yes, running barefoot or as close to barefoot as possible is advantageous. You can feel the terrain beneath you and adjust as needed.
Over the 10 days – how much sleep do you think you’ll manage?
The plan is to set off early each day (ie. by sunrise) and pace the run across three blocks of time. Each day is just under 2.5 marathons (62miles) so I hope to be finished by 6pm each day. We’ll see. But by the time I’ve down-regulated, eaten, stretched, done an ice bath and some breathwork I should be asleep by 9pm. It’ll be a 4am start each morning to allow time for lots of mobility, breathing exercises and fuelling the body.
What part of the Trail do you think will be the toughest?
Each county has its own “brutiful” aspect – each beautiful and unique in its own sense where you turn one bay and get hit by magnificent views and different sensitivities to the land, but also each comes with its own brutality when you are going over the terrain – one minute you’re on sand dunes, then going over rock faces, on hard compacted ground or navigating root systems, you’ve got massive ascents and then it’s flat.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m most looking forward to running the Cornish Coast, I’m so familiar with it and have such a connection to it from growing up there. When I hit the Path, it evokes certain emotions that take me back to my childhood.
As part of the challenge, Tony is fundraising for three important initiatives linked to climate change and climate justice: the South-West Coast Path which continues to be severely impacted by coastal erosion; and two indigenous communities – the Ju’hoansi San of the Kalahari, where VIVOBAREFOOT makes the original hunting sandals and Sônia Guajajara, an extraordinary indigenous leader in Brazil running for Federal Congresswoman.
Go to Tony’s Go Fund Me page and support his incredible challenge and the initiatives that he feels passionately about – including our very own South West Coast Path.
About Tony Riddle
Tony Riddle is a natural lifestyle coach, author of best-selling Be More Human: How To Transform Your Lifestyle for Optimum, Happiness, Health and Vitality and record-breaking barefoot endurance athlete.
Regarded as a trailblazer within the field of natural movement and lifestyle, Riddle is the creator of the Natural Lifestyle Philosophy, which encourages modern urbanites to reconnect with certain innate, ‘wild’ behaviours in order to increase physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellness.
Follow Tony and his FKT challenge @thenaturallifestylist