Waterford’s Patrick Hogan comes home to win the Munster Intermediate Cross-Country Championship in Charleville, Co Cork last Sunday. The Ferrybank AC member was in difficulty three times during the race but fought bravely over the final lap to catch the two leaders, passing both to claim an amazing victory.

First off he stopped after losing his left spike; then he pulled up to remove the other shoe; and then after discovering that his compression socks gave no grip he stopped to remove one sock and then the other, and still he wasn’t to be denied.

Patrick was inadvertently following in some famous footsteps. Charlie “Doc” Robbins won two US National Marathons barefoot in the late 40s, while in 1960 Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, the greatest Olympic marathoner of all time, won the first of his consecutive gold medals in Rome ‘sans shoes’ in a world record time of 2:15:17. Four years later Bikila wore Pumas in Tokyo and triumphed again in 2:12:11.2, a new WR. Clearly he was comfortable with or without.

For Africans, especially Kenyans, it came naturally (the current fastest man on the planet, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt literally keeps on his toes in training). In Caucasian terms, England’s Bruce Tulloh ran European records from 1955 to 1967, almost always in bare feet. He clocked 13:12 for three miles on grass, and 27:23 for a half-dozen over cinders.    [Photo: James Veale]

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