No Shoes, No Problem: Iowa Teen Runs Barefoot Across the Country
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Rae Heim jogs up to the Iowa City Old Capitol on a hot and humid Sunday Afternoon wearing no shoes on her feet.
Beads of sweat trickle off the 18-year-old from Carroll as she reaches her temporary destination. She’s tired, but in good spirits.
“The first week was really difficult,” says Heim. “I was ready to throw in the towel.”
Heim is running barefoot from coast-to-coast. Her journey began April 1st in Boston, Massachusetts and will end in Huntington Beach, California by mid to late November. The trip is about 3,000 miles. So far, she’s conquered 1,200 miles and is starting to find a rhythm.
“Ever since that first week, it’s been kind of a breeze. I knocked down my mileage, so I’d enjoy the experience along the way,” Heim said.
The run started as a personal challenge, but just before she hit the pavement, it turned into something more meaningful.
“A couple of months before I started, I decided I had a huge opportunity to help people along the way,” Heim explained.
Heim decided to start a website. She uses it to document her run and also raise money for Souls4Soles. The organization provides shoes for children.
“Every dollar that gets donated to the organization a child will get a pair of shoes.”
Heim’s feet are filthy and calloused, but so far she hasn’t had any major injuries. She actually started running barefoot regularly in March of 2011.
“I had a broken toe and it was super uncomfortable running with shoes,” Heim says. “I just stayed barefoot once it healed."
Heat is the only element that gives her hard time. When it does get hot, Heim throws on a pair of very thin toe socks to keep her from getting seriously burned.
Family friend Brenda Greteman joined Heim on her journey into Iowa City. She says Heim’s mother is a huge inspiration for her as a fitness coach and all-around independent self-starter.
“She’s raised her kids like I can’t say enough,” said Greteman. “With [Heim] running without her shoes and to understand how that feels, it’s amazing.”
Heim runs three days on one day off and then four days on two days off. Last week, she managed to do five days showing her personal fire to finish the adventure.
“People should take away from this that anything is possible, because prior to my freshman year of high school, I had never ran more than a mile in my life,” said Heim. “You just got to make your goals and go for it, because no one can really stop you.”
Heim will be speaking at We Run in North Liberty on June 20th at 6:00 p.m. She’ll share stories on her travels thus far in her journey across the United States. They will also be drawing for a $50.00 gift certificate and showcasing Run Girl Run products, a company that is sponsoring Heim’s trip.
Her upcoming treck through Iowa will take her through Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Grinnell, Newton, Altoona and Waukee and several others. Heim’s full trip log is on her website. http://flavors.me/raeainslee
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