What Vibram 5 Fingers Did To This Olympic Champion Will Piss You Off

Vibram Rips Off Barefoot Olympic Champion's Family.
Vibram Rips Off Barefoot Olympic Champion’s Family.

It’s September 10, 1960 and Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, is leading the pack in the Olympic Marathon in Rome, Italy. Morocco’s Abdesian Rhadi is chasing closely behind, but Rhadi can’t catch the remarkably fast barefoot Ethopian, who finishes in about 2 hours, 15 minutes, taking the gold and shattering the Olympic marathon record by almost eight minutes.

Bikila wasn’t even supposed to race that hot day in September-he was a last minute addition to the Ethiopian team when their star runner got sick.

Despite Bikilia’s amazing victory, his story doesn’t end happily. In 1969 a terrible crash leaves him paralyzed; when asked about the accident, he says:

“Men of success meet with tragedy. It was the will of God that I won the Olympics, and it was the will of God that I met with my accident. I accepted those victories as I accept this tragedy.”

He dies of complications, just a few years later.

There is no doubt that Bikili is a champion in every way. He epitomizes determination and the runner’s spirit.  In 2010, on the heels of the barefoot running craze, Vibram Five Fingers decides to make the barefoot olympian the poster child for minimalist running, introducing the Bikili line of five finger running shoes, trademarking the Bikili name to protect their golden goose. There’s just one problem: Bikila’s family never gives Vibram permission to use Bikili’s name in any way shape or form. When the family discovers that Bikili’s name is being used without permission, they sue Vibram in U.S. District Court, seeking monetary damages.

Unfortunately, Judge Ronald Leighton dismisses the case, leaving the family out in the cold.  The lawyer for Bikili’s family writes, “The fact remains that Vibram has never asked the Bikila Family for permission, nor compensated them for using Abebe Bikila’s personality….We hope that the parties can ultimately resolve their differences and the Bikila family can continue to promote the legacy of Abebe Bikila.”

Is this really what Vibram wants to be remembered for? Stealing an olympic champion’s legacy.

Chasing Wolves

English: Engraving of a black wolf by J. G. Ke...
English: Engraving of a black wolf by J. G. Keulemans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a boy, my grandfather gave me a slingshot. I used it almost everyday in the open field near his house. One day I set up range with rusty tin cans and dirty old beer bottles near a giant oak tree. Perched on one of the long gnarly limbs of the tree was a dove. It was sitting so still, gazing down at me. I don’t know what got into me, but I grabbed a jagged rock, loaded it into the slingshot, pulled back as far as I could, and aimed at the bird.

The dove wasn’t like the cans, it didn’t just fall over when the rock struck it; instead its lightly feathered breast absorbed the sharp rock with a soft thump; the dove cried out with dull and painful murmur as it struggled to heave itself into the sky. With its chest crushed, it couldn’t fly, pulsing wildly in the air as it tumbled into a patch of tall grass near the base of the oak. I sprinted over, watching it beat its wings back and forth against the dirt and grass, trying to breathe into its smashed breast, its strength slowly fading from it, dark blood trickling from its beak. I remember looking into its eyes, they seemed to say to me “Why did you do this to me?” I had no answer. So I just stared at it, stunned. Slowly the stroke of the dove’s wings waned until it lay still, its outstretched wings facing heaven. The moment it died, I sensed the presence of my ancestors, watching me from above, scowling down with disapproval.

I felt heartsick. Something snapped deep inside my being, a flood of guilt and shame rushed into my soul. I felt dirty, sullied, unclean. I clutched at my chest trying to wipe the feeling away, but the stain remained.

I ran into my grandfather’s house crying. He gathered me up in his big carpenter’s arms and held me, rocking me back and forth in his burly armchair. My head against his chest with tears in my eyes, I told him what I had done. He let me cry for a while, and when I had calmed down, he told me this story:

He said inside everyone is a black wolf. And this black wolf is cruelty, fear, ignorance: everything evil. But also inside everyone is a white wolf. And this white wolf is love, courage, curiosity: everything good. At some point in everyone’s life, these two wolves start to fight. When the black wolf is winning, he said, you’ll feel the way you do now: confused, sad, unfulfilled. But when the white wolf is winning you’ll feel focused, happy, fulfilled. If you’re not careful, he warned, the black wolf can gradually take control of you, leading you down very dark paths. I knew that I didn’t want follow the black wolf; so,  I asked my grandfather what I could do to fight it. He put his hands on my shoulders and said, “To fight the black wolf, you must feed the white one, giving him more power and strength than the black one.” Then he told me to find the body of the dove, apologize to it, dig a grave for it and to bury the slingshot next to it. I did what my grandfather told me to do and I felt much better. When I patted the last scoop of dirt on the grave, I could tell that my my ancestors and the dove were pleased.

Sometimes when I’m alone on long barefoot runs on the remote trails of the  Oregon wilderness, I feel a powerful presence leading the way, guarding me from the black wolves prowling in the dark shadows.

Which wolf are you feeding?

Guns Don’t Kill People, Running Does

In my Career Link class, we toured Leupold Optics, a high tech manufacturer of rifle scopes. Our tour guide, a fat, red faced middle aged manager with a Hitler-esque mustache, sported a bright yellow button that said “Guns save lives!” The button was comical, not only because its message is complete bullshit, but also because the man wearing it was standing under an orgy of death. Guns certainly didn’t save the life of that stuffed antelope hammered to the wall, or the shiny crocodile smiling sharply with his serrated teeth nailed next to it, or the huge taxidermy mountain lion prowling over the entrance to the cafeteria.

When I split open my knee on a run along the Salmon River Trail, I certainly didn’t expect my hospital doctor to pull out a GLOCK to fix it. Guns don’t save lives, they take them–well bullets take them, the gun just starts the process. How can anyone wear a button with such an inane slogan? How can anyone with enough sense to operate a silkscreen be dumb enough to print it?

Lax gun regulations are a problem in our country. In Oregon, it’s legal to carry a concealed gun on your person. The only requirement is a carry and conceal permit. How do you get the permit? Pay $29.99 and take an online course. How much guidance can a person get from a one-shot, online course?

English: AR-15 rifle with a Stag lower receive...
English: AR-15 rifle with a Stag lower receiver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s easier to legally buy an AR-15 assault rifle than it is to legally drive a car. To get a license to drive, you have to take hours of specialized training, pass a rigorous written exam and demonstrate your skills behind the wheel during a supervised driving test. The state makes you prove that you know the rules. And there are lots of rules for the road, you have to know when to yield, what speed to drive, and how to use your blinker when you turn. And if you get caught breaking the rules, you get a ticket, and if you get caught driving drunk, you pay a hefty fine and get your license taken away. And you can’t just drive any old car you want down the street: your vehicle must be “street  legal.”

Mad Max world
Mad Max world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are practically no regulations for gun ownership in America. You don’t need any safety training to own rifle or a handgun; there are no penalties for unsafe gun handling, and you can buy high powered weapons like assault rifles and kits to modify them from anyone willing to sell them. The only thing you have prove when purchasing a firearm is that you weren’t committed to an insane asylum or sentenced to prison. Imagine what would happen if we applied gun laws to driving: Mad Max.

I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve gone barefoot hiking or running in the majestic forests of Oregon and come across fields of shotgun shells and 22 caliber bullet casings scattered along the forest floor, just steps away from crushed beer cans and shattered bottles of vodka.

Our gun laws are shameful. If you need to undergo hours of training and practical exams to drive a car, you sure as hell should have to do the same to buy an instrument of death like a gun.

Guns are dangerous. That’s not a platitude. They are dangerous and they’re designed to kill anything in their path: deer, moose, and even innocent little girls playing jump-rope on their Mamma’s front porch. Here’s one of many alarming statistics:

… we found that states with higher levels of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.


I am not against gun ownership. But we must ensure that gun owners are solid, responsible citizens who have been trained and tested in the safe and proper use of firearms.

Until then, what do I say to the man wearing the “Guns save lives!” badge? “Save a life: shoot yourself!”


Six Word Saturday

Mastered Buddhism: Now I know nothing…

English: Seated Buddha Amitabha statue, west s...
English: Seated Buddha Amitabha statue, west side of Borobudur, ca. 1863-1866. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone’s Guide to Running a Marathon

Feel the delightful ecstasy of running 26.2 miles. It’s time to Lose Weight, Get Fit & Healthy this Summer training for a marathon. It’s an agonizingly long, long, long distance, even for veterans. But it’s not impossible, every year, seventy year old grandma’s and middle aged managers cross the finish line. It’s not easy, but it’s achievable. If you can walk and jog a mile, you can run a marathon.

Here’s a quick beginner’s guide with a training plan to get you started:

Google Marathons & Pick One

Just enter the following search:

marathon (your city, your state)

Check the date of the race. For a first timer, you should give yourself at least 2 1/2 to 3 months to train. If you already run 20 + miles a week, you might be able to skate by with a little less than two months of training.

Register for the Marathon

This is the big trick. It’s super easy, yet very challenging.  The alarm whistles in you head will scream, the butterflies in your stomach will flitter about, but it doesn’t matter. Whenever you’re terrified and thrilled at the same time, it’s always a good sign. Realize that in a single keystroke, you can overcome your doubts, blasting out the weakness with a single solid action, an action that officially puts you on the path to fitness and health, taking you one step closer finishing the gold standard of endurance: the marathon!

Use Jeff Galloway’s Free & Easy Online Marathon Training Plan

This is your first marathon, don’t waste time searching for complicated marathon training plans, just  use Jeff Galloway’s Marathon Training Plan. It is free, easy; safe enough for your seventy year old grandma and challenging enough for a Boston Qualifier. Jeff uses walk breaks and despite what you may think, WALKING IS NOT CHEATING. The walk breaks give your body time to recover and make the longer run much more enjoyable. Also, the breaks don’t slow you down as much as you think. This plan is also very merciful with your busy schedule: you’ll only running about three times a week, and two of those days are thirty minute sessions, which means that you only really need to carve out one day for you long runs. I trained for my first marathon while I was working three part-time jobs. One of my jobs required a two hour commute, yet I was able to hit all of my runs. If I can do it, so can you!

If you signed up for a marathon: Congratulations!!! You’re on the path health and wellness and soon you’ll have a medal hanging your wall, attesting to your athletic prowess, making you one of the elite 5% of Americans with enough vigor to endure the gratifying ordeal that is the marathon.

Or you can buy Jeff’s book and learn how his plan can even get you ready to qualify for Boston:

Essential Holiday Gifts & Stocking Stuffers Every Runner Will Love

Sometimes it’s difficult to chose the right gift for the barefoot adventurer in your life. There’s a trick to buying presents that make your mom and dad smile, letting them know that you love and care for them. And then there are the essentials: the best outdoor gear that your athletic barefoot endurance brothers and sisters  just can’t go without. Here are a few choice Amazon items for the active person in your life, perfect for last-minute gifts.

Waist pack belt for SmartPhones with Waterproof, Sweat Proof Lightweight Case

Waterproof SmartPhone Case for Endurance Athletes
Waterproof Smart Phone Case for Endurance Athletes

On my long run days, when I’m miles and miles from home on slender country roads slick with icy rainwater, I always feel better knowing that I have access to my phone.

Sturdy PolyCarbonate Multi-tool Phone Case for SmartPhones

Multi Tool Case for iPhone 6/6s
Turn your smart phone into a Swiss Army Knife.

Sometimes my sandal-lace snaps, ripping the toe-strap from the sole of the shoe whenever I  kick a rock or trip over an unseen root on the trail. When I finally stop shouting curses to the empty sky, I usually have to break out my car keys to reinsert the strap into the sandal before I seal it back in place with duct tape–yes I always run with duct tape in my camel back. Car keys work, but it’s always nice to have some tools on hand when you’re all alone in deep dark forest. This tough case, made of sturdy poly-carbonate, upgrades your smartphone into a Swiss Army knife. The tools are securely ” hidden” in the case, but easily removed, and the blades are TSA compliant!

Body Glide Anti-Chafe Balm

Body Glide Ultra Running Anti Chaffe lotion
Body Glide Ultra Running Anti Chafe balm

This stuff is magic. Prevents and treats chaffing, especially on the most sensitive part of your chest: the nipple. Easier to apply than olive oil or petroleum jelly. Don’t toss the container in the bin because you can use it to hold home-made, all natural deodorant– a recipe I will cover in an upcoming post.

 Medal & Buckle Hangers for Endurance Athletes

Medal Hanger for Endurance Athletes
Medal Hanger for Endurance Athletes

This is a great gift because it highlights the achievements of the past while inspiring your runner for the goals of the future. Without my medal hanger, I don’t think I’d be running the Hagg Lake Mud 50k this February. Whenever I don’t feel like getting out of my warm cozy bed and onto the wet, icy wind, I look at my medal hanger, then put on my huaraches and hit the streets.

Reflextive Vest

Reflective Vest for RUnners
Reflective Vest for Runners

Don’t let your best friend become another Elizabeth Jaeger, the woman who was given a citation after a car slammed into her hip  during her morning run. Give them the gift if safety. Be safe. Be Seen!

Sweatproof bluetooth headphones

Bluetooth Headphones for Barefoot Runners
Bluetooth Headphones for Barefoot Runners

A study at Brunel Unversity’s School of Sports Education reveals that listening to music while running boosts endurance by 15%!!!


Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray for Barefoot Runners
Pepper Spray for Barefoot Runners

Not a every pit-bull is puppy at heart. Some beasts are just downright ferocious. Dogs are pack animals by nature, programmed to chase anything that runs. Most of the time they just yap at your heels, but every once in a while they bite. Pepper spray is humane way to protect yourself without causing lasting damage to the mutt.



A Life of Desperate Caffeination?

According to legend, there once was an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi who noticed some of his goats eating red berries from a bush. After chewing on the berries, the goats who were tired from a long day in the sun, hopped around energetically and bleated happily. Kaldi was intrigued. So he popped a few berries into his mouth, wincing and puckering at the bitterness, just as he was ready to spit them out, he felt a surge of energy and a wonderful sense of euphoria. It just so happened that a monk from a nearby monastery witnessed everything. When Kaldi was away, the monk picked some of the berries to share with his brothers at the monastery. That evening, the monks were able to stay up all night, alert in prayer, asking forgiveness for stealing Kaldi’s berries. (This story was adapted from Zoltan. See “Works Cited”.)

It took me about 3 weeks of agony to stop drinking coffee. Kicking caffeine was harder than running my first 50k ultra marathon.

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
Cup of Coffee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that the cravings for coffee are completely gone, I occasionally ask myself if I made the right decision. After all, many grandmasters, writers, and mathematicians enjoy the psychoactive benefits of arabica. Sometimes, I miss the manic episodes and on-demand vigilance that coffee gave me.  In terms of creativity, I think coffee may have given me a slight edge. Whenever I needed to bang out a post, I’d brew a pot of java.

For the past year, I’ve been in an artistic slump. The urge to write, to play music, sometimes, even to paint or draw hasn’t been as strong. I know that it’s foolish to wait for inspiration because the Muse only shows up when I do. I’ve got to put myself out there for the magic to happen. It’s impossible to paint a masterpiece without a brush in your hand. Even so, I often ask myself:

Would drinking coffee guide the strokes? Am I distorting the past? Was coffee really my Muse? Or just a monkey on my back?

To discover the truth, I’m going to slip into the socks of Benjamin Franklin. After all, he was one of America’s wisest citizens. Whenever the great man was faced with an important decision, he would take a plain piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, and put a plus (+) on one half, and a minus (-) on the other. By listing all the positive elements on the plus side of the paper and all of the negative ones on the minus side, his decisions would become obvious.

Here’s my list of Pros and Cons for drinking coffee.

+ Pros:

  • Gives me energy and a slight manic twitch to write blog posts, draw goofy skulls, and play the didgeridoo. Looking deep into my blog, some of the most exotic posts were written when I was hopped up on caffeine. Most of my sketchbooks were filled after percolating a pot of coffee. I even used the grounds to “coffee wash”  some of my tattoo flash sheets.
  • Escalates social inclusion. When I quite coffee, I felt ashamed and exiled, like someone on Survivor with a secret immunity idol who was blindsided at Tribal Counsel. Whenever I tell my friends and coworkers that I’m not part of the Java Tribe, their shocked expressions do little to betray their contempt. I can hear their thoughts, “He’s not one of us. Is he Mormon?”

– Cons:

  • Coffee is expensive. It’s very easy to drop 5 to 10 bucks a day on it.
  • It stains your teeth and breath.
  • It makes me manic, which can be a plus when it spurs creativity but also a negative when it makes me believe that my wife was replaced with an ultra-sophisticated, lifelike, robotic surgeon who sews microchips into my scalp while I sleep, giving government agents the ability to control my thoughts with a radio transmitter; thereby giving them the ability to influence my behavior for military applications.
  • It may have caused some of the mysterious panic attacks that I suffered from years ago.
  • Everyone else is a slave to it. The mass of men lead lives of desperate caffeination. I don’t know any coffee drinkers who can bear the horrendous headaches from missing their morning cup. Caffeine withdrawal is so serious that it’s in the DSM V:

…abstinence from caffeine induces a withdrawal syndrome of headache, fatigue, and drowsiness which begins within 12-24 hours and lasts about 1 week. The syndrome can be severe and appears to be one reason for continued use of coffee. The prevalence of this caffeine withdrawal syndrome is unknown.

Caffeine withdrawal but not caffeine abuse or dependence should be included as a diagnosis in DSM-IV and ICD-10. Future research should focus on whether some caffeine users exhibit clinical indicators of drug dependence.

(“Should Caffeine Abuse, Dependence, or Withdrawal Be Added to DSM-IV and ICD-10?” http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/10.1176/ajp.149.1.33 -direct link requires paid access to DSM-5 online)

The cons outweigh the pluses. I’ll stay clean, eating magic mushrooms or drinking ayahuasca whenever I need a little inspiration.


Works Cited:

“Should Caffeine Abuse, Dependence, or Withdrawal Be Added to DSM-IV and ICD-10?” Ajp 149.1 (1992): 33-40. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Zoltan, Melanie Barton. “Coffee.” Food: In Context. Ed. Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 138-141. In Context Series. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.