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Dispatches : Outkicked

The Vibram Lawsuit

Photo of Vibram Sprint FiveFingers via stevendamron/Flickr

A Florida woman has filed a lawsuit against Vibram USA alleging misleading advertising in promotional materials for the company's FiveFingers line of shoes. The plaintiff, Valerie Bezdek, accuses Vibram of inflating claims about the health benefits of barefoot running to market FiveFingers and charge a price premium over other brands.

The suit appears to piggyback off a similar complaint filed last year against Reebok for their EasyTone shoes, which Reebok said would give wearers nicer thighs and butts. (They don't!) That suit netted consumers a $25 million settlement and prompted this statement from the Federal Trade Commission:

“The FTC wants national advertisers to understand that they must exercise some responsibility and ensure that their claims for fitness gear are supported by sound science.”

My first reaction to the Vibram suit was irritation. (We can't possibly need a court to intervene in the barefoot running debate, can we?) My second reaction is that the suit could be good news, and Vibram might actually lose.

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Not Injured, but Not Fast

When you're coming back from injury there is a moment when you are finally healthy, everything is fine, and you're badly out of shape.

Nate Jenkins, whom I've written about in the past, and whose struggle to become a very good marathoner I find endlessly compelling, appears to be at that place now, five years after first getting injured and four years after finishing seventh at the Olympic marathon trials. On Sunday, Jenkins was second at a half marathon in New Bedford, Massachusetts. From his blog:

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A Few Things I Learned Running Up a Ski Mountain

Blog_UphillSpikes_02162012A close up of the spikes

On Sunday, I (sort of) ran from Vail's Lionshead base area up 2,200 feet to Eagle's Nest. This is not how I normally travel at ski mountains.

The run was the final of three events in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge and part of the Winter Teva Mountain Games, which, as I understood it, were meant as a celebration of the lesser mountain sports that people do in winter—Nordic skiing, ski touring, snowshoeing, snowbiking, ice climbing. It seemed occasionally odd to celebrate sports that most of the time work against gravity at a resort, Vail, that most of the time works very much with gravity, but I appreciated the general sentiment and it appeared that plenty other people did, too.

Anyway. Things I learned:

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Want to Stop Doping? Look at The Agents.

On Tuesday, Russian marathon runner Tatyana Aryasova was stripped of her 2011 Tokoyo Marathon title after she returned a positive test for a banned drug, hydroxyethyl starch, that is commonly used to mask doping in endurance athletes.

The news broke on Japan Running News, where Brett Larner noted that Aryasova is represented by New York-based agent Andrey Baranov. Baranov represents more than a dozen top female marathoners, including Chicago and London marathon champion Liliya Shobukhova, a favorite at the upcoming London Olympics. He also represents Lyubov Denisova, a marathoner who tested positive for elevated testosterone levels in 2007.

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Salazar Says Ritz Is Done with the Marathon

Photo by eviltomthai/Flickr

After finishing ninth in the 2008 Olympic marathon, Dathan Ritzenhein was fourth, and first man out, in Saturday's Olympic marathon trials in Houston. It was his seventh career marathon, all seven of which have been mild disappointments: excellent races for an American, but underwhelming given Ritzenhein's talent and performances at shorter distances. (He won a bronze medal at the 2009 world half marathon championships and has bests of 12:56 for 5,000 meters and 27:22 for 10,000 meters; both are internationally competitive times.) Ritzenhein narrowly PR'd on Saturday in 2:09:55, but that time is still more than six minutes slower than Patrick Makau's world marathon record of 2:03:38.

I spoke with Ritzenhein's coach Alberto Salazar earlier this week. Neither seem sure why Ritzenhein continues to under-perform, but they don't plan to expend any more energy finding out. He'll next try to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team at 10,000 meters.

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