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Feeling the Path: Anton Krupicka and New Balance Minimus

Posted Sep 23 2010 12:00am

“Feel the path of every day - which road you taking?
Breathing hard, making hay - yeah, this is living …

Feel the sky blanket you with gems and rhinestones –
See the path cut by the moon for you to walk on.”

- Pearl Jam, “Unthought Known” (video after post)

There’s a very cool video making the rounds in the trail running community lately, featuring two very compelling subjects: Anton Krupicka and the forthcoming New Balance Minimus.

The 3-minute clip is noteworthy for a couple of reasons: first (and, from a product marketing standpoint, foremost) is that it features several close-ups of the eagerly anticipated shoe that’s scheduled for release in March of 2011. You’ll recall that a couple of months ago, NB was intentionally secretive about what the shoe actually looked like; in this video, you can see for yourself, from a few different angles.

Without question, the new Minimus looks like a pretty sweet ride, and I’ll be eager to give it a spin (and a review, of course) in the springtime. However, what stands out more to me from the video are Krupicka’s musings on minimalist footwear and natural running. He explains how the current evolution - or if you prefer, revolution - of shoe industry leaders like New Balance towards a “less is more” mindset is an extension of a larger movement towards a minimalist lifestyle , simplifying our existence as a means of giving it greater meaning.

He also describes the inherent satisfaction in feeling your foot interact with the ground with every step you take: the way it connects us more closely to our surroundings, and the way it strips away all the other distractions we sometimes bring to our training. The constant feedback of the Earth underfoot helps us stay focused in the moment and at one with the natural world around us.

Sure, that kind of talk has hints of New Age gobbledy-gook to it … but the thing is, I feel exactly the same way. In fact, I discussed this very topic about two weeks ago with a writer who is researching the barefoot running phenomenon.

He was interviewing me as a reference (I know … I was shocked, too) for his book, and thought that I was somewhat unique in comparison to other barefoot or minimalist runners he’d spoken with, mainly because my affinity for this approach has been completely voluntary. I didn’t have difficulty running in regular shoes. I didn’t suffer injuries from conventional footwear. And I don’t harbor any counter-cultural animosity towards traditional shoe companies.

So he asked the obvious questions: Why did I do it? And why do I stay with it? The answers I gave him were almost identical to what Krupicka talks about in the New Balance video.

I was drawn to barefoot running – and by extension, minimalist footwear – somewhat by intellectual curiosity, but more by this primal joy of letting my body function naturally in the endlessly fascinating world around me. I love to feel the ground below me, the rhythm of my legs and lungs and body working in harmony, the sky blanketing me with cool air and fresh breezes, and to see my path illuminated in the moonlight before me. Those moments, more than anything else, are what running is all about to me – and the less my gear interferes with those experiences, the better.

But I’m digressing too much, because this post is primarily about Krupicka and the Minimus. Watch the video below, then if you’re so inclined, you can follow the link to an interview with Krupicka and senior New Balance designer Chris Wawrousek for further insights into the development of the Minimus. Or you could just stick around and listen to Pearl Jam.

“Tony Krupicka and the New Balance Minimus” (click to play)

See the interview with Anton Krupicka and Chris Wawrousek here .

Considering what a huge Pearl Jam fan I was in college, I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a couple of years to warm to the idea of a comeback from them – but this song from the album was the one that closed the deal for me. It’s got classic Pearl Jam style, and instantly became one of my favorites.

Pearl Jam, “Unthought Known” (click to play)

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