You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ultrarunner Jeff Garmire Ran a 5K Wearing Crocs (in 19:05!)

Runner’s World logo Runner’s World 8/27/2021 Micah Ling
He wanted to make things interesting for his race, but do as he says (don’t take yourself too seriously), not as he does. © Jeff Garmire He wanted to make things interesting for his race, but do as he says (don’t take yourself too seriously), not as he does.

Jeff Garmire, 30, is used to testing his body. As an ultra-endurance athlete, he feels at home pushing himself for days and nights with little to no down time. He’s taken on Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempts and races that cover hundreds, if not thousands, of miles on foot. He currently holds the FKT on the Colorado Trail, and has also held the FKT on the Long Trail and the Arizona Trail. He’s completed the Pacific Crest Trail, the Pacific Northwest Trail, and all 58 Colorado 14ers (mountains that reach or exceed 14,000 feet elevation).

But on August 7, Garmire took on a much shorter distance than what he’s used to: the Sweet Pea 5K in Bozeman, Montana. The only thing was, three days before the race, Garmire decided to run in Crocs—yes, those squishy clogs that everyone either loves or hates.

Join Runner’s World+ today for exclusive access to more training advice and injury-prevention tips!

Garmire isn’t new to Crocs; he sometimes brings them to wear around camp when he’s hiking or backpacking (and not going for a record). But why race in them? Garmire imagined that wearing this footwear for the 5K would force him to not only push himself in the race, but also have fun with it.

“I ran a couple years of cross county in high school and never particularly loved how hard you had to run in a 5K race, so I haven’t run one in 10 years,” Garmire told Runner’s World.“So I decided, if I’m going to run this distance again, I’m going to do it in a unique way.”

Garmire treated race day just like everyone else, pinning on his number and walking to the start line in his Crocs (he bought a fresh pair for race day), and he said only a few people noticed his choice of footwear. When the gun went off, Garmire did his best to stay with the faster lead group.

“It was a pretty straight shot on a paved road, but we did go on a trail for a little while, and that’s when I noticed my traction wasn’t quite as good as the runners around me. Around mile 1.2 we had a right turn, and I had to take the turn a little easier [than everyone else].”

Garmire tried to make up for lost time on the turns with a blistering 5:50 third mile. He crossed the line in 19:05.26 (a 6:09/mile pace), good enough for 22nd overall out of 439 runners. While for many runners, that would be a PR, but Garmire thinks he could have broken 19 minutes. “I just didn’t know what I was capable of,” he said.

a colorful blanket: These are the Crocs that Garmire wore. © Jeff Garmire These are the Crocs that Garmire wore.

Garmire had a great time running the race, and encourages everyone to remember to keep things fun and not take yourself too seriously. However, experts don’t recommend running in Crocs or similar footwear, because they don’t offer the stability that your feet need while running.

“There’s a difference between cushy and cushion,” Anna Wieber, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) in Denver, Colorado, told Runner’s World. “It’s a common misconception that something cushy would be good for your feet, but what most of us really need is something with more stability.... [When wearing Crocs] you’re really not getting the support or stability features that you do with a running shoe.”

When Weber is evaluating a client, she does some gait analysis to see if an athlete has a neutral gait, or if they pronate or supinate. She then makes a more general recommendation about the amount of stability someone needs, rather than suggesting specific brands.

Dr. Courtney Conley, a chiropractic physician specializing in foot and gait mechanics at Gait Happens in Golden, Colorado, acknowledges that Crocs have a wide toe box, but points out that plenty of running shoes offer the same benefit.

“For a 5K, one might be able to get away with this, but for the majority of distance runners, having the appropriate shoe can be the icing on the cake for performance.” Conley said, “Running shoes that allow this same forefoot splay are the Altra and Topo Athletic. These give the benefit of a wide toe box, but with more structure to accommodate different terrains and allow for longer distance running.”

Beyond enjoying his down time and taking on some silly challenges, Garmire is getting ready to race The Rut, a technical 50K in Big Sky, Montana. He’s also got his eye on a bigger FKT attempt in the fall. Garmire isn’t sure if he’ll make a serious attempt at shorter distance races, but his 5K in Crocs did make him want to do some more tempo runs, so maybe he’ll lace up his actual running shoes for another 5K in the future.


More from Runner's World

Runner’s World
Runner’s World
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon