Global Running Culture Making Strides

Santa Fe Huaraches© combine ancient design and modern minimalist running technology

Sometimes a catalyst appears from the clear blue sky at the perfect moment. A few weeks ago, my good friend Fred Maas emailed me with the news that he was headed out to pick up a pair of custom leather running huaraches (sandals) handmade by Fred Coen. It didn’t take me long to meet Fred and it’s been off to the races since then.

Fred Coen

Master craftsman, Fred Coen, Sandalmaker Extraordinaire

Fred is a leather craftsman who has studied around the world and is a Board Certified Pedorthist and Reflexologist. Now living and working in his Santa Fe studio, Fred has several early 20th century shoemaking machines, including some made by the Rapid Shoe Machine Mfg. Co. out of New York, NY. He has a vast array of leatherworking tools, voluminous hides of leather, along with hundreds of foot casts for making custom shoes and orthotics.

Informed by countless miles of experience, Fred has taken ancient sandal designs and using modern technology and materials, including Vibram soles and cutting edge biodynamic concepts, creates phenomenal running huaraches that are works of kinetic art. To Fred, “biodynamics means that we’re getting feedback constantly from the Earth toward the goal of balancing all of our bodily systems in a combined microcosm and macrocosm within the universe, that works harmoniously to achieve a synthesis of movement supporting optimal health.”

Describing the primary purpose of his minimal running sandals that are molded to the natural arches and contours of the feet, Fred says “walking and running are all about making us stronger and healthier. The ergonomically designed running sandals, with contoured foot beds protect the feet, allowing for a complete range of motion. They are like giant callouses protecting the soles of the feet.”

As mentioned here, Champion Rarámuri ultramarathoner Juan Rico, his daughter Luz, and their amiga Silvia are scheduled once again travel from Copper Canyon to participate in this year’s Santa Fe Thunder along with a group of Tarahumara artisans. Juan is an expert huarache-maker and we are planning demonstrations involving Fred, Juan, and a moccasin-maker from Jemez Pueblo, during Saturday’s Global Running Festival and during Sunday’s post-race fiesta at Buffalo Thunder. We look forward to seeing what kind of collaboration develops and how the design, technique and artistry of different cultures will blend together to further enhance the biodynamic performance of the running huaraches.

This meeting and collaboration will bring to life, in real time, the essence of the global running culture and we invite you to participate and perhaps order your own pair of Santa Fe Huaraches©

In creating Global Running Culture, we recognized that by learning the stories and studying the footsteps of those who came before, we are able to accelerate our own journeys and run far together. We are running messengers, part of an ancient order of warriors. We are currently planning the next Global Footprints program that will involve teaching local youth to make running huaraches for themselves and children in Global Running Culture’s three program areas: northern New Mexico, the village of Matungen, Kenya and Copper Canyon, Mexico. Our goal is to help children accelerate their footsteps toward brighter futures through healthy active lifestyles and learning marketable skills. Just as we have been swept up in the draft of those who ran before, we create our own tribe and our growing strength in numbers creates opportunities to share the fruits of our labor and to spread the word farther.

Pumpkin and Joseph

GRC mascot Punkin’s paws, and Santa Fe Huarache© paws

If you are interested in obtaining your own pair of custom Santa Fe Huaraches© handmade by Fred Coen, visit his site at Stay tuned for updates about race weekend activities including the Global Running Festival and packet pickup event Saturday, and the pre-race dinner Saturday evening at Buffalo Thunder as well as the post-race fiesta at Buffalo Thunder.

Last weekend I broke in my pair with 5.5 hours of running in the Sangre de Cristo wilderness including several hours’ worth of rocky, steep and technical terrain. They performed like champions and until winter is here, I will be running in nothing other on my feet than my pair of 6 oz (!) foot protectors. Many thanks, Fred Maas for introducing us. Let’s all go for a run soon!

Smooth Running,

Joseph Karnes
Race Director