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How an Endurance Coach Helped Change Running Shoes Running expert Eric Orton developed a new shoe to help athletes put their best foot forward.

By John Patrick Pullen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Call Eric Orton anything you want--genius, madman, sadist--but don't call him a quitter. As a mountain runner and endurance coach, Orton has finished countless races, from the high-altitude, 100-mile Grand Targhee Ultra Marathon to a 50-miler alongside the legendary Tarahumara runners in Mexico's remote Copper Canyon. Yet as strong as he is, the pain he experienced when running became nearly too much to bear. "I almost gave up running because I couldn't wear shoes," says Orton, who lives in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The problem--for Orton and a growing legion of runners--was the modern running shoe. After Orton coached journalist Christopher McDougall for the Copper Canyon race in 2006, an experience detailed in the bestselling book Born to Run, the minimalist running-shoe category was born. McDougall's story shed light on the concept of barefoot-style running by documenting a race against the area's native people, who had astounding endurance and ran injury-free in handmade sandals.

B2Rs Eric Orton.
B2Rs Eric Orton.

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