It’s a sunny June day as I arrive at the BBC Yorkshire studios with my paddleboard on my back and a hopeful heart that the breeze may calm to allow us to paddle on the River Aire in Leeds.
I have been invited onto our very popular regional news programme to talk about my newly released book Stand Up Paddleboarding in Great Britain – Beautiful Places to Paddleboard in England, Scotland and Wales. A celebration of the beautiful places on our doorstep and the wonderful SUP community.
However, as it is World Ocean Day, I have one mission ahead before the cameras start rolling. Whilst Amy Garcia, the journalist I have come to meet, works on breaking news stories, I set myself up in the BBC studios and join the VivoBarefoot team for our mid-morning conversation.
As a recently appointed Revivo ambassador I will be introducing myself by sharing my story of paddleboarding 162 miles coast to coast from Liverpool to Goole along the Leeds Liverpool canal and Aire & Calder Navigation in summer 2019. I was picking up litter and fundraising for two causes, the 2MinuteBeachClean Foundation and the surf therapy charity The Wave Project.
After a lovely Zoom call together and a chance to get to know Tanglwst and the team, it is time to head to the river for filming.
Amy and I pump our boards, attach our leashes and zip up our buoyancy aids. ‘Are you not changing your shoes?’ she asks as she pops on her wetsuit booties. ‘No, I’m good to go’ I reply, ‘I’ll keep my Vivos on!’
It’s the first time I have worn my VivoBarefoot on the paddleboard. I’ve been wearing them for a few weeks on land by now and I feel confident that they will be just fine. And they are! Later that week they make their appearance on the TV for all to see.
I had initially heard about VivoBarefoot from Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s podcast and his enthusiasm for the shoes. A close friend had raved about how comfortable they were when we went to Kendal Mountain Film Festival saying she simply never wanted to take them off. I also knew two of my paddleboarding heroes, Cal Major and Linn van der Zanden were and are fans. When I was approached to try them I was intrigued.
Having suffered from plantar fasciitis on and off for 4 years, keeping my feet and ankles pain free is a priority. After wearing regular hiking boots in the winter, I had developed a pain across my foot where the laces seemed to pinch and tightness in my right calf. I simply couldn’t afford to aggravate this.
The recommendations interested me, however, as these were people I could trust.
Another reason I wanted to try the Primus Trail 11 FG was the environmental credentials of the shoe and brand. I liked the fact they are made with a recycled textile and the commitment VivoBarefoot make to reducing their impact on the planet. I was also impressed by ReVivo, their resale platform, where you can buy unsold stock from earlier years or pre-loved reconditioned shoes.
Intrigued but cautious is how I would describe my attitude. Maybe they would work for me and maybe they wouldn’t. There was only one way to find out.
When the shoes arrived in plastic free packaging, I popped them on for a dog walk, having already read up on the blog about how to get used to the barefoot style of shoes. I loved the colour – a soft midnight blue that goes with jeans and some longer midi dresses I wear in the summer.
Dog walks on the road, the trails and across the park followed as my feet became accustomed to the Primus.
It would be disingenuous to say they didn’t feel a little odd. I am 57 years old and my foot and calf noticed the difference. There were decades of unlearning and relearning to do. My right calf initially continued to need stretching and massaging in the evening on the leg that had been causing some discomfort prior to receiving the shoes. The other leg was absolutely fine so I knew it really was a case of ‘it’s me not you!’.
It's been a couple of months now and my shoes and I have become firm friends. My plantar fasciitis has not returned. They are so easy to slip on and off and take up far less room than my trainers if I am packing to go away. At Yestival, a wonderful festival organized by adventurer Dave Cornthwaite in Lincolnshire last weekend, we were asked to take off our shoes before entering the big barn. My Primus were perfect for this with their integral lace system making it quick to pop on and off, although I will admit to once briefly stepping over the threshold wearing them because they were so comfy! (Sorry Dave – they were super clean!).
I think the loveliest feeling was recently walking in soft sand by the sea. For me it was where the Primus came into their own. I felt a real connection with the beach and the ground beneath me. As I did my #2MinuteBeachClean and walked in the VivoBarefoot shoes, I smiled. I was looking after a place that held my heart and with Vivo, I felt emotionally and physically closer to it.
I am really looking forward to working together with VivoBarefoot in the future, exploring adventures on foot and learning more about the barefoot concept. I’m still intrigued, just no longer cautious. Let’s see where they take me. I hope you’ll join me for the journey.
Please do let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to hear your experience of Revivo Barefoot and Vivo Barefoot shoes! Jo x x