He may not have shoes to hang up, but Eddie "Barefoot Bandito" Vega won't need to dodge potholes or tweeze any more rocks, spines or shards of glass from his famous feet after officially announcing his retirement last week after years of competing in marathon and ultramarathon races.
“After 12 years and 302 marathons/ultras of which 202 were run exclusively barefoot, I am officially announcing my retirement from participating in marathon events," he said. "I think it’s the right time for me to move on to a less strenuous and less costly sport like golf. I am going to quit while I’m ahead and I’m happy with what I have accomplished in the sport.
Vega, who has achieved Titanium Status five times as a Marathon Maniac, retires on a successful run that includes being named 2014 GSPN Athlete of Year and setting four Guinness World Records.
To date, he holds the record for the following accomplishments: running the most barefoot marathons in one year (101); most barefoot marathons run on consecutive days (10); most barefoot half-marathons run on consecutive days (12); and most barefoot half-marathons run in one month (18).
But, it was about more than marathons, said Vega, who has referenced his humble upbringing for his drive to give back.
He was featured in 2014 on ESPN for his charity Soles4Souls, which donates shoes to children in need. That year, he ran a marathon in each state to raise awareness for those in need.
"I was able to create awareness for kids who do not have shoes and, thanks to the support of my generous donors, I was able raise enough funds to distribute over 30,000 pairs of shoes and tsinelas (slippers) to children in the remote areas of the Philippines," he said.
In his decade or so of running, Vega has also accomplished much, a runner's bucket list, in his philanthropic pursuit.
Very few people can say they have completed a marathon in all continents and 26 countries. And he's run a marathon in each state twice – with and without shoes.
With all that he's accomplished, Vega celebrated the friendships and connections he's made in his 12-year quest as the "Barefoot Bandito."
"I have been most fortunate to have made at least a thousand new friends since I started running marathons and I will always be forever thankful to those who supported my cause, www.gofundme.com/eddievega," he said.