Running in Berkeley

Sather Gate

Sather Gate

I was in Berkeley, California last month to attend the 2016 World Vegan Summit and Expo held at the U.C. Berkeley campus. It was three days of very interesting presentations and I attended almost all of them. Some resembled college lectures in their depth and delivery. (Many of the presenters were from academia.) Others were artistic in nature and included a poet, an illustrator, a comedian, and musicians, all of whom used their artistry to promote veganism.

I ran the first two mornings—barefoot the first day through the campus and surrounding neighborhood, then in minimalist sandals the following morning on and out-and-back route that took me up fairly smooth dirt trails winding through the wooded hills above the campus.

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Xero Shoes minimalist sandals

The barefoot run was nice because the sidewalks were largely free of the tiny, sharply textured decomposed granite gravel that I frequently encounter where I live in Phoenix. But compared to Arizona State University (ASU), where I’ve run barefoot a number of times, U.C. Berkeley had more asphalt walkways, and some of them included really rough patches that were uncomfortable to run on. I also came across some old, fairly rough exposed aggregate concrete paving. I did appreciate the hilly nature of much of the Berkeley campus compared to ASU’s pancake flat geography.

The second run was quite enjoyable, starting out in the fog then gradually climbing a few miles until I was looking down on a dense puffy layer of white. There was one short but very steep section where I walked. The surface was ideal for my thin sandals, and the frequent wide turns and elevation changes added visual interest. It was a very extensive network of trails and fire roads. No doubt, the U.C. Berkeley cross-country team uses it frequently for training.IMG_1242

On the decent I came across some human barefoot prints. I wasn’t sure if they were from walking or running. Later, I spotted what I think was a group of wild turkeys walking near the road just above the university’s football stadium.IMG_1243

By the end of the run my feet and ankles were coated with a fine layer of dirt that at a quick glance resembled a suntan. While sitting in the ballroom later that morning at the Vegan Summit, wearing the same sandals, I looked down at one point and noticed a small patch on my ankle where the soap and shower water had missed, and a thin layer of trail dirt remained.IMG_1240IMG_1251IMG_1247IMG_1252 IMG_1265

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