Northern Ireland

Belfast Marathon: Pair to run in bare feet

Two runners are hoping to complete next week's Belfast marathon in bare feet.

It has never been done before in Northern Ireland, but the runners have both already successfully finished a half-marathon without shoes or socks.

Simon Hunter, 35 from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, and Andrew Reid, 36, from Bangor, County Down, say they are not worried about stones, glass or even needles on the ground.

They claim they find running in bare feet easier on their joints.

Andrew Reid and Simon Hunter say they find running in bare feet easier on their joints

Simon, who has previously run three marathons in shoes, said: "Barefoot running has, for me, been a big change as a runner. I've had no cuts, no bruises and no knee problems.

"When you start barefoot running you become more aware of what's around you, you feel the ground more and essentially if you see it, you don't stand on it.

"The stuff you don't see is generally so small, it doesn't really do any damage or you don't feel it so much."

Simon and Andrew are hoping to finish Monday's race in under five hours.

Andrew has never run 26.2 miles before.

"Because it's my first marathon, I just want to finish. I'm just hoping to get to the finish line in my bare feet," he said.

"Everyone asks us about glass, but glass tends to be sparkly enough that you see it a long way off.

"Needles? Never see needles anywhere. Syringes? Never see syringes anywhere."

More than 2,000 runners have entered Monday's marathon, the 33rd to be held in Belfast.

Andrew said that if he completes the race, he will reward his feet with a long soak afterwards… in beer.