Bare for the essentials

Marathon runner will take on trek in Santa Barbara barefoot to help provide shoes for children in developing countries.

November 03, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

The soles of Casey Cochran’s feet are black by the time he finishes his regular run from his home near Newport Pier to the famous body surfing spot the Wedge — at the tip of the Balboa Peninsula — and back.

Cochran, 28, has been running the six-mile circuit barefoot, mostly on city streets, in preparation for the Santa Barbara International Marathon on Dec. 6.

The founder of the eco-friendly website, Cochran hopes his barefoot run will raise money to buy shoes for children in developing countries.


“If I ran a marathon with shoes on, it wouldn’t raise nearly as much awareness that there are people in this world who can’t afford shoes,” Cochran said.

Cochran founded the Green Guide Network in 2006, a website that connects consumers with eco-friendly businesses. The project began in Orange County, but has since grown to include more that 20 cities nationwide.

He’s now partnering with the company TOMS Shoes to raise money to purchase shoes for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.

Founded in 2006, TOMS Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a child in a developing country for each pair the company sells.

Donors to Cochran’s cause can either buy a pair of shoes from TOMS, or make a donation to Friends of TOMS, a nonprofit organization that raises money to fight podoconiosis, a disease that causes deformities in the legs and feet that affects many people in developing countries.

“We are very excited and gracious for Casey’s efforts in helping TOMS provide shoes to children and treatment to those affected by podoconiosis,” TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie said in an e-mail. “His enthusiasm and support will bring awareness to the impact a simple pair of shoes can make in someone’s life.”

Cochran hopes to raise at least $5,000 for TOMS.

“I thought he was crazy for running a marathon barefoot, but it’s not unexpected; this is the type of thing he does,” said Cochran’s friend Clarissa Cassara, who recently purchased a pair of loafers from TOMS to help Cochran toward his fundraising goal.

“I’m really proud of him for doing this; he fights for the causes he believes in,” Cassara said.

Cochran has run a few marathons in the past, but with shoes on.

Training for the past two months, Cochran tries to run about 30 miles a week barefoot.

He scans the ground for broken glass as he runs and prefers asphalt to concrete sidewalks — it’s easier on his feet, he said.

“I’ve gotten a few comments; people say, ‘hey, where’s your shoes,’” Cochran said.

Aside from a thick black coating of grime on the bottom of his feet and a few blisters, running barefoot hasn’t caused him much pain, he said.

“Your stride changes,” Cochran said. “I run on the balls of my feet more than I used to. People were made to run.”

How To Help

For more information about Casey Cochran’s barefoot marathon run or to make a donation, visit

More information Cochran’s Green Guide Network can be found at

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