Montreal Runner Going Barefoot to Argentina for Charity

October 16, 2013 by NYRR staff

Joseph Michael Liu has kicked off his shoes, but between now and 2015, he won’t be doing much relaxing. Far from it.

On July 2, the 32-year-old barefoot runner started a journey from his native Montreal to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost country in the Americas.

“I have the desire to do something big that can change my life and others,” Liu said a recent interview with Georgia’s LaGrange News.

To that end, Liu is making his 12,000-mile trek to raise money for Edible Schoolyard, a charity dedicated to teaching young people about organic gardening. According to its official website, the agency envisions “gardens and kitchens as interactive classrooms for all academic subjects, and a free, nutritious, organic lunch for every student.”

While Liu is a seasoned athlete who ran cross-country at Concordia University and has been training barefoot for two years, he’s already encountered his share of hardships.

Because he often sleeps in tents, he’s been stung by bees, and the monumental undertaking has cost him a romantic relationship.

Luckily, he’s also enjoyed some positive experiences, and while in LaGrange, he stayed for free at a Best Western hotel. During a tour of the Kia auto plant in nearby West Point, a manager offered the shoeless engineer a job.

“My followers have been really supportive, and I’m lucky to have a lot of people that have been providing hotels,” said Liu.

And every now and then, kind-hearted folks offer more than just lodging and employment.

“I was in an Applebee’s and the manager made an announcement to the whole restaurant about the trip, and two guys offered to have me go skydiving with them while I was in town,” Liu said. “I went skydiving for the first time.”

No word on whether he wore shoes.

Click here to keep up with Liu’s progress and donate to Edible Schoolyard.

Categories: Human Interest