Tellman Knudson’s feet are getting a tough education in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. In a bid to raise $100 million for charity (and capture a world record), Knudson is running barefoot across the U.S.
Tellman Knudson’s feet are getting a tough education in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. In a bid to raise $100 million for charity (and capture a world record), Knudson is running barefoot across the U.S. We caught up with him near Rothrock State Forest in central Pennsylvania, where his dogs weren’t barking as much as you’d think.
By Karin Krisher
One With the Earth
Knudson is more connected to the ground than ever before. “Not only are you aware of every angle your foot is landing on, you’re aware of temperature shifts and the granular changes in the texture of the surface — every little tiny piece of sand.” His terrain of choice? “New concrete in a clean downtown.”
The Daily Grind
It isn’t just Knudson’s soles that adapt. The absence of shoes affects his whole body, especially the lower calves. “They’ve become extraordinary shock absorbers. They take all the impact the skeleton took when I wore shoes.” But it also adds flexibility, which he says results in a lighter, looser run.
Staying on Track
With a goal of 3,400 miles in 99 days, Knudson has to average an ambitious 34 miles every day. His first week on the road, he averaged only 14 miles a day — a slow start, but one he planned for, knowing his feet would need time to adjust. Now one month in, he’s adding a mile each day on the road and getting back on pace.
Predictions of an early winter in the Midwest forced Knudson to change course and cut much farther south to skip scheduled trips through chilly Chicago and Cleveland, where nasty weather could stop him in his tracks. “I can handle the cold — I’m part Norwegian,” he says. “But what I can’t handle is the extreme wetness, the slush.”
Knudson uses Gorilla Glue to patch the constant cracks and cuts. Daily foot massages from his crew chief also help when “the road turns to razors” and he feels like “a really old man, with a really old walker.”
Follow Knudson and get information on where and when he’ll be making appearances (like Thursday, December 10th at the Anytime Fitness gym in Vienna, WV) at runtellmanrun.com.
This article originally appeared in the December/January 2009 issue of Men’s Journal.