In 2009 Ted McDonald became a central character in Christopher McDougall’s best selling book about natural running and movement, Born To Run. Ted was initially portrayed as the quintessential ugly American, a brash, larger than life counterpoint to the retiring Tarahumara- The legendary distance runners whose McDougall’s party had ventured to the Copper Canyons of Northern Mexico to engage with. Ted’s arc formed the emotional pivot of the book, when McDougall described the bond that Ted and Manuel Luna, a Tarahumara man whose son had been brutally murdered by a drug cartel. Since the book’s publication Barefoot Ted (as he is now widely known) has become synonymous with barefoot running and an advocate for us investigating our atavistic potential for natural movement. Ted discusses that running should be a state of play; joyful and unhindered. First with Five Fingers and now with his own company Luna Sandals, Ted sells footwear that at periods in our history were ubiquitous, however now are considered iconoclastic or niche.
The son of an LAPD detective, who grew up ensconced in the surf and skateboard culture of 1970’s California, Ted’s curiosity for what propels us has changed the course of his life, and arguably many others. Ted was in New Zealand recently to speak at RunFest. Over coffee, we had the pleasure of speaking about the relevance of barefoot running, his own well being, and a myriad of other topics. Ted could be considered a contradiction;. The president of an international running footwear company, a futurist who is investigating alternative forms of transport like the Solowheel and a noble savage who values above all else running wild.