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Who Is the Barefoot Marathoner?

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 11, 2010 4:00PM

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If you were watching the broadcast of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon yesterday around the 10 o'clock hour, you most likely saw this brief interview with one Julian Romero of Lafayette, IN. Romero told NBC5's Marion Brooks that he ran the marathon barefoot. While barefoot running is growing in its nubmer of advocates, a few tidbits about Romero's interview piqued our curiosity.

  • Romero told Brooks he didn't decide to run the marathon until two days prior, citing a new job as a reason he waited so long to enter.
  • Looked like he barely broke a sweat
  • Didn't appear to have a race bib attached anywhere on the front of his shorts, although Romero did appear to have an electronic ankle monitor to record his overall race times and splits.
  • Romero's race time isn't listed in the marathon's searchable online results.

Our initial thought was: "Could this guy be one of the many marathon cheaters?" Or could this have all been a convoluted ruse to get Brooks to rub Romero's feet? It's very possible that Romero did wait until Friday to run the marathon. A search for Romero's barefoot running exploits found this video from the 2009 Los Angeles Marathon. In it, Romero touches on all the bullet points he did with Brooks, but you can visibly see his race bib on his shorts. Romero's results from the '09 LA Marathon are also available online.

Still, we placed calls to both Romero (an associate professor of economics at Purdue) and Chicago Marathon Communications Director Jeremy Borling for confirmation of Romero's registration. Hopefully, one of them will return a call.

Update: Mr. Romero wound up e-mailing me after reading the post. As mentioned by one of our commenters, he did buy his race number via a Craigslist posting and apologized for not going through normal channels to enter the race. (No need, Julina.) "I was in town for the Purdue/Northwestern game (Romero did his undergrad studies at NU and currently teaches at Purdue) and just decided to run while I was here."

Anyway, Romero said that Chicago was his first run over ten miles since he ran the San Francisco Marathon in July, which should make a lot of you all sorts of jealous. "My legs started giving out on me around the 20-mile mark," he said.