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Friday, March 6, 2015

Eddie Vega runs barefoot for a cause, breaks Guinness record

Why is the Guinness World Record holder for the Most Barefoot Marathons Run in One Year, running without shoes?
Eddie Vilbar Vega, nicknamed the “Barefoot Bandito,” says he created a world record with marathons run on bare feet to raise awareness and funds, and send shoes to over 300 million children worldwide who are without shoes, including those in his native Philippines.
Guinness World Records officially acknowledged the barefoot marathoner as having completed 101 marathons across the world from January 1 to December 31, 2014.

Vega ran in all 50 US states, in Japan, and the Philippines for a total barefoot distance of 4,258.65 kilometres which Guinness required to be extensively documented on GoPro, a cam on his chest directed on his feet to ensure his barefoot run was done on just his bare feet without aid of plasters and other foot aids. Pictures of the start, during and end of the race baring his soles were required, attested to by witnesses.
Vega also holds the record for Most Barefoot Marathon Runs on Consecutive Days (Male) for running races across California, Oregon and Texas, USA from June 28 to July 7 also last year.
The California-based IT professional ran as an ambassador for Soles4Souls, a charity organization collecting new and gently worn shoes from shoe companies and individuals for donation to the world’s underprivileged children.

To date, he has raised over $13,000 and has distributed about 7,000 pairs of shoes in his home province of Leyte and in Davao, Philippines, with another 6,000 pairs scheduled for distribution in April and August this year through the Davao-based Seeds of Dignity Ministries.
Vega revealed to GoodNewsPilipinas the story of why he can actually relate to children without shoes who need protection from contracting infectious diseases by not having adequate footwear.
As a child in Leyte, he would sometimes take off his shoes to run around barefoot with other kids who could not afford shoes so he could fit in. As a result, he contracted hookworms and became infected with tuberculosis from a contagious neighbour who would spit blood on the grounds they played on.
He credits his survival from the deadly infections to his family’s immigration to Guam which had modern facilities to treat his diseases.
The Barefoot Bandito dedicates his barefoot run for the children without shoes to his demised parents Charlie and Rita Vega.
Vega decided to adopt the Soles4Souls cause as his own after the attention he got from running his first barefoot marathon on the occasion of his 50th marathon run in 2013. He realized then he could use the “rock star” publicity of the Guinness World Records for a higher purpose, to address the needs of the world’s children.
“It is said that ‘to really understand someone you need to walk a mile in their shoes’. Well, in my case, and for the cause that I represent I decided to run and/or walk thousands of miles barefoot to honor these kids and to create awareness and let everybody know that there are over 300 million children worldwide who are without shoes or adequate footwear because they cannot afford them. To compound the problem, most countries like the Philippines, will not allow children to attend school unless they wear shoes. This contributes to the vicious cycle of poverty,” Vega writes in his memoirs of his desire to have children be able to live a healthier life and pursue their education.

His barefoot marathons caused injuries, sometimes superficial, at times grave enough for him to discontinue the race. He was even once hit by a car from behind during his world record attempt.
His record attempt to run barefoot in 7 continents ended in Antarctica, a run which he had to finish wearing shoes because he had already started bleeding on the snow after running mostly on gravel and jagged rocks.
But when the thought of quitting crossed his mind, Vega says he kept thinking about how the survivors of the World War II Bataan Death March were able to endure much harsher conditions during their 128K march from Bataan to Camp O’Donnell. The image of that deadly march kept Vega going, thinking of his pain and suffering in his own 42K run relative to what the prisoners of war then endured.
Vega will be in the Philippines this April to distribute more shoes to children without shoes.
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