One with the earth
Athlete claims first-ever barefoot Ironman finish in Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID — Triathlete Guy Felixbrodt says he likes to stretch the limits, and he proved that on July 24.
The Beacon, New York, resident finished this year’s Ironman Lake Placid in 16 hours, 49 minutes and 26 seconds. While his feat was impressive, so were his feet. He completed all three stages of the race barefoot — an achievement that has never been done before, he said.
“There are a lot of barefoot runners, people do marathons. They do two-and-a-half-hour marathons,” Felixbrodt said. “I’m just the only one ever. This is just the first in the history of someone completing a full-length Ironman barefoot.”
Running barefoot wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment decision for Felixbrodt. He grew up in Israel and often ran around barefoot.
“In some of the villages (in Israel), it’s very common — or at least was very common when I grew up — to be barefoot,” he said. “I always did it. Not as much, but I did it. When COVID started and I was able to work from home, I walked barefoot, and then I got into earthing.”
After competing in a few triathlons and an Ironman 70.3, all of which he did to either fundraise or raise awareness for an organization, he decided to return back to his roots.
“I wanted to give back and raise awareness to earthing and the huge benefits and lastly just being barefoot,” Felixbrodt said.
Earthing is the idea of walking outside barefoot and letting your skin connect with the earth beneath you.
“(Earthing) speaks about the huge mental and physical impacts of being barefoot. It’s to do with health. It’s to do with anti-inflammation. It’s to do with all of it,” Felixbrodt said. “Really for the last two years, I’ve been mostly barefoot.”
Felixbrodt said he also wanted to raise awareness for the rights of barefoot people in general.
“Some people do it for religious reasons, others do it for health reasons,” Felixbrodt said.
Even though there isn’t a federal or state law in the United States that prohibits one from going barefoot in stores or restaurants, Felixbrodt said people are often adamant about not letting him in because he is barefoot.
He argued that people often claim being barefoot is a health violation when in reality it’s not.
“The difference between that and a flip flop is nothing,” Felixbrodt said. “Who actually washes their shoes? No one. I wash my feet multiple times.”
Ironman Lake Placid
Felixbrodt said the hardest part about competing in Ironman barefoot was the mental aspect.
“My muscles were fine within 48 hours (after the race),” Felixbrodt said. “The only thing that took a while was my mental state, but that was because it took years of preparation and all of the resistance to doing something like that barefoot.”
While every Ironman competitor is barefoot for the swim start, the biking portion presented a challenge.
“I have a slightly wider left foot and so the shoes, the clicks or whatever they are, they would ruin my feet because I would come out in pain,” Felixbrodt said. “I found a way to have flat pedals even though it’s like a race bike. I put grounding wires to them like trucks have.
“When I rode my bike, I also did it grounded or at least as much as possible to the earth while doing it,” he added.
During the 112-mile bike race, he said he was able to move his feet in six different positions and was able to easily move his muscles.
“You generate all of these watts. You literally measure in watts on a bike,” Felixbrodt said. “Then you’re insulated with rubber, so where does all this electricity go?
“It goes back into your muscles because you improve your fitness and destroy your body in the process,” he added. “You get all of these injuries because you generated a lot of power and let it go nowhere but into your body.”
Because he was grounded during the full length marathon, Felixbrodt said he was able to connect to the earth.
“Most of the race part on the marathon part of the Lake Placid Ironman is actually on the riverbank. I was able to connect to the land, the trees and nature,” he said. “I was electrical with the earth that is positively charged by the sun through the stratosphere and lightning that charge the earth all of the time.”
Felixbrodt said because he was able to connect to the earth it helped the recovery process.
“Twenty hours after the race, my feet were fine,” he said. “I also earthed them and put them on the ground for the next 24 hours pretty much. I also have an earthing mat.”
During his time in Lake Placid, Felixbrodt decided he wanted to volunteer. He volunteered as a way of thanking the Lake Placid and the Adirondack community.
“I know (Ironman is) a pain. I volunteered in the area because of it,” Felixbrodt said. “I couldn’t quite find where to volunteer in Lake Placid so I went to Peru, New York, to Elmore SPCA to give back to the community a few days before the race. It’s very important to me to give back.”
Back home, Felixbrodt also spends time volunteering, but while there, he wears his shoes.
“I volunteer at a local dog shelter by my house, and when I would wear shoes there, I would run with the dogs and fall,” he said. “I don’t even know how to run with shoes anymore.”