Runner listens to body, tosses shoes

Ibrahim Seedat (Lloyd Burnard)
Ibrahim Seedat (Lloyd Burnard)

Pietermaritzburg - Meet Ibrahim Seedat.

A veteran of 17 Comrades Marathons as of Sunday, the 44-year-old shares a passion for the race with thousands of others.

What makes him different?

Two years ago he decided to pay tribute to his body by tossing the idea of running with shoes.

Seedat completed the 2014 and 2015 Marathons barefoot.

He says that it is a “lifestyle choice”, and believes that his decision will prolong his running career.

“Sometimes when I train people think I’m trying to be this tough guy, but it’s not about that,” said the Pretoria-based Department of Transport researcher.

“I want to run Comrades when I’m like 85 so that’s why I switched two years ago,” he said after completing this year’s race in just under nine hours on his way to a Bill Rowan medal.

“You sacrifice time, but you see the bigger picture. You want to run for longer and carry on injury free. What happens is that your big toe gets used a lot, your ankle and your hip flexes. You run straighter.”

Seedat says that running without the hindrance of shoes allows you to listen to your body when it’s trying to tell you something.

“In your two feet combined you have about a quarter of the bones in your body,” he said.

“There’s a quote from (Leonardo) Da Vinci that looks at the marvel of engineering that goes into it (feet). You’ve got like 52 bones, dozens of ligaments and all these muscles.

“These new technologies in these shoes ... there’s only so much cushioning you can get.

“It’s about listening to your body. If you get a niggle ... with shoes you kind of run through it.

“But your body itself, with all these tendons, joints, muscles ... you’ve got quite a large range of cushioning.”

Seedat’s feet were in surprisingly good shape after the race.

“The skin under your foot is more like soft leather, so the friction damage only happens if you use the wrong technique.”

Still, he acknowledges that there was a period going up Polly Shorts where he began regretting his decision.

“Between 15km and 30km to go it’s that rough, chip and spray tar and there’s nowhere to hide. I was just praying for some smooth tar.”

And what do his friends think of this?

“I hope they think I’m some kind of Jackie Chan or something, it won’t bother me, but it’s all about technique.”

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