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I'm planning on doing the Warrior Dash later this year. It is a 3.2 mile (5K) race course through mountainous terrain, mud, and water. In addition, there will also be obstacles along the way such as:

  • barricades
  • barbed wire
  • fire
  • scrap yard wreckage (an image shows tires and cars)
  • wooden structures (giant see-saws, walls)

Since I haven't worn a "normal" pair of athletic sneakers in over four years, I plan on getting something that is similar to what I wear for martial arts. My kung fu shoes are flat-soled and have little cushioning. My style is also a Northern (China) one which has many acrobatic and leg techniques. My body is comfortable handling the impact on my feet and legs. Given my constant training schedule and how accustomed I am to wearing my current type of shoe, a barefoot shoe seems like a natural transition that I think would be good for me.

I have been looking at various barefoot shoes which are separated into specific fitness activities like running, water, and trekking. Since this event is mostly running, I'm tempted to buy barefoot running shoes over ones that are meant for hiking or trails.

Are barefoot shoes good for these type of courses? If so, are there traits of one model of shoe that are advantageous over another? If barefoot shoes wouldn't be good for this type of activity, why would it not be suitable for muddy obstacle courses?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I can tell you the Spartan Sprint race absolutely DESTROYED my original Vibram KSO's that were 2 years old. Punctures, tears, just not worth it in my opinion. I would get some cheapo light soled sneakers if it's multi-terrain. If it's just mud and water, they'll probably survive ok.

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Hey I did 5 tough mudders in 2011 and one warrior dash and wore vibram 5 fingers in all of them. Its the only way to do it. They don't hold a lot of water and make you feel like a ninja. Mint

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The website says:

Keep in mind you will need to affix your chip timer to your foot (they work best attached to shoes, but zip ties will also be available at packet pick-up.)

Also,

We highly recommend good, solid running shoes too.

However, from what I see from their video, you go under the barbwire, so it's not an issue, and you jump over the fire, so it's also not an issue. It should all be do-able in barefoot shoes.

Here's some feedback from people who've ran the Warrior Dash in minimal shoes: http://www.runnersworld.com/community/forums/runner-communities/barefoot-running/warrior-dash-1

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Do note that depending on the model, its not comfortable to have a chip under the Velcro of a Vibram, it pushes against the top of your foot in a painful manner. Other than that, Vibram is very tough material, but the shoes won't offer any protection against small or sharp objects –  Ivo Flipse Jan 14 '12 at 23:08
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