Man Running Barefoot Up Empire State Building

He's new to running, but not to pain tolerance.

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He’s new to running, but not to pain tolerance.

At 10:30 a.m.on February 1, Ryan Matherne will be standing on the ground floor of the Empire State Building. He will be there to take part in the 34th Annual Empire State Building Run Up, an event hosted by the New York Road Runners. Most competitors will be wearing shoes, but not Matherne. He’s going run up all 86 flights barefoot.

Matherne is new to running. After he started more than a year ago, he began experiencing knee pain and stress fractures. His doctor told him the meniscus in his knees couldn’t take the pounding and he should stop.

He physical therapist told him to do something else: run barefoot.

“I tried it and pain that almost had me under the knife was completely gone,” Matherne recalls. “It was either barefoot or don’t run, and I don’t quit.”

This is true. Matherne has a black belt in Taekwondo. He believes martial arts has prepared him for barefoot running.

“I’m still very new [at running],” he said. “It’s always been something that’s been in the back of my mind. And, actually after I got my black belt I needed a new challenge, so I said, `OK, I’ll start running.'”

For More: Stamford