In #2 2018, Swimrun Life Magazine
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By Nancy Heslin

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At Vivobarefoot, strengthening a reconnection with nature is at the heart of everything they do, which is why the partnership between Vivobarefoot and “our friends at ÖTILLÖ” happened.

“Over the last few years, we have been working extremely closely with some great swimrun athletes and taking part in the Sprint races ourselves,” explains Asher Clark, Cofounder and Design Director Vivobarefoot, “not just because we enjoy it but because we want to make our current swimrun shoes perform to their absolute best – both in and out of the water.”

Asher, who partnered with his cousin Galahad in 2010, made Vivobarefoot their single focus. He goes on to say that to innovate at Vivobarefoot is to make as little shoe as possible because 300,000 years of design has come up with a pretty unbeatable bit of standing, walking and running kit – your feet.

“It’s this thinking that ties us firmly to the belief that the less shoe we put between your feet and the ground the more you can feel – there’s a reason why your feet have the same amount of nerve receptors as your hands – which in a sport like swimrun, where the trails and water transitions are technical and slippery, you need all the sensory feedback you can get.”

The Primus FG (Firm Ground) SR (Swimrun) shoe has now been joined by a neoprene ankle-height version with a soft ground sole so you can pick the right tool for the race depending on the course. Both have been described as “the best shoes in swimrun but you need to learn how to wear them”.

Vivobarefoot has also developed shoes – part of the complete Race-Train-Rest pack – for training and lifestyle because, as Asher points out, “when you are leaving the world of supportive non-foot shaped shoes behind you, your barefoot journey should start slowly as your feet get used to being feet again.

“The age old expression ‘you need to walk before you can run’ is key here, particularly if you’re doing the long distances.”

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Next swimrun design: aquatic organisms meet Michelin

The new design brief started in pursuit of the best way “to make the lightest, fastest, ‘gripiest’ swimrun shoe on the planet”, so the leading London-based barefoot shoe company is building on everything they’ve learned to make this new shoe “a pinnacle product” with the top materials and stitchless technologies they have at their disposal.

“Functionally and aesthetically, the new shoe incorporates organic design principles inspired directly by aquatic organisms,” describes Asher. “The design team looked to the ocean for inspiration and used organic algorithms that directly mimic organic growth patterns to create a wide range of capabilities.

“The upper design uses these principles to create a perfect harmony between protection, strength, flexibility and water drainage, with minimal interference with the natural biomechanics of the foot.”

The offspring of the Clark family, the British shoe-making company, Clarks, adds, “We have applied the same philosophy to the outsole design through a new partnership with Michelin, combining our feet-first footwear design experience with 128 years of Michelin’s grip and compound expertise.”

This new Vivobarefoot swimrun shoe will function and look like nothing ever on the market and will be out in April 2019 – watch this space and get your feet ready for the ultimate sensory experience. “We’re confident that your feet will love it.”

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Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #7 (May 2018)

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