Trail runner completes barefoot trip across Spain

Former elite marathoner Julia Chi Taylor shed her shoes for charity

Julia taylor.jpeg

A former England international marathon runner has completed her challenge of running more than 1000 kms across Spain barefoot for charity.

Julia Chi Taylor, who competed at the 1986 Commonwealth Games, set off on March 23 from Suances on the northern coast of Spain and finished on May 12 - her 59th birthday - 52 days later on the Southern coastal town of Almuñécar.

She is believed to be the first person to attempt this feat.

She has raised more than £10,000 for Friends of Sussex Hospices and 3000 euros for Fundación Cudeca – a cancer care hospice in Spain.

The journey spanned 1006km and Julia ran an average of 25km per day for five days with a rest day after every five days. She broadcast a daily Facebook live video to share her experiences. You can watch the videos on Barefoot Across Spain.

After completing the challenge, Julia admitted it was harder than she ever imagined. "I had incredible support from friends and the public along the way, some of whom ran stretches of the journey with me, which really helped keep me going," she said. "Along with the variety of road surfaces and some small injuries along the way, the weather was unexpectedly cold, especially in the mountains. I ran on snow, through torrential rain and in freezing wind.

"My challenge enabled me to witness the deeper message of life's journey - ‘living as fully as possible in each moment and recognising that we make the path by walking it’ – which was received by all who came into contact with 'barefoot across Spain'.

"I have always worked deeply in the lives of others, helping them to face themselves in life and death. Therefore, it felt natural for me to be raising money to aid the transition of adults and children in their journey from life to death.

“We die how we live and so through living fully we can embrace our death and through accepting that we will die we can live more wholly.”

Julia lived for 25 years in Sussex - 12 of them in Eastbourne – and is now a nomad travelling wherever her life takes her. She became a nomad several years ago - a person who travels from place to place and has no permanent home. She sold all her belongings and carries everything she owns as hand luggage. 

She explains: “Being a nomad helps me to explore life and the world.”

Julia has been running barefoot since she was six when she discovered her love for it. “We come into the world barefoot and we learn to walk barefoot,” she says.

Living completely barefoot except for foot jewellery and, for exceptionally rough ground, Skinners socks, she spent months training and building up her barefoot running in preparation for the run.

As an elite runner, her first international was in 1979 in Spain, a three-mile cross-country race; and she continued to run at international level until 1993.

Two of her best results were first in the Dublin City Marathon in 1985 and seventh in the 1986 London Marathon in 2:36:31.

You can still donate to he charities here