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It gets a little nuts in Northeast and online over barefoot runner’s post

October 11, 2018

Barefoot runner cant stand acorns.

Neighborhood goes nuts.

For a brief, shining moment this week, an entire northeast Minneapolis neighborhood came together around one mans post about the acorns that were tearing his feet apart. This is their story.

Hey Northeasters! neighborhood newcomer Eric Curtis opened his post on the I Love NE Minneapolis Facebook page. Lately Ive noticed that the sidewalks have been LITTERED with acorns.

Hes not wrong. Minnesota is under aerial bombardment. Every few years, the oak trees produce a bumper crop and in these so-called masting years, acorns rain down upon the shod and the unshod.

So this is just a friendly reminder to please keep your sidewalks clear of any acorns or other debris that might injure those whom are active members of the barefoot running community, including myself, the post continued, transitioning seamlessly from friendly reminder to passive-aggressive threat. I would hate to have to complain to the City about this, so I just wanted to give everyone a heads up! Peace and Love!

If he thought this post would inspire a sidewalk sweep, he vastly underestimated how hilarious the internet finds any combination of nuts, bare feet and squirrel puns. Alert neighbor Alex Conover retweeted the original post, along with a few of the flabbergasted responses.

If only there were something you could put on your feet to protect against acorns and other debris.

Maybe a pair of squirrels could be strapped to your feet?

Run with a leaf blower.

By Wednesday, Conovers tweet had more than 50,000 likes and had been picked up by news sites around the nation. People swapped jokes and puns and vowed it would be a cold day in northeast Minneapolis before the sidewalk would be swept for someone who didnt have the sense to wear shoes. They traded squirrel stories and acorn recipes (Hersheys kiss + Nutter Butter Bite = painless acorn).

By midday, someone was selling an I Love Northeast T-shirt on Amazon, featuring a grinning squirrel with its foot planted triumphantly on an acorn.

Im glad people can monetize my misfortune, Curtis wrote glumly, after hearing about the shirt.

Everybody was having a grand time. Except maybe the guy with the sore toes, who said he had mixed feelings about the whole ordeal.

I guess Id like people to know that I didnt mean any offense, but once people started calling me names like wackadoodle and Nancy and other filthy things that you cant even put in the paper, I felt like I had no recourse but to complain to the city, he wrote via Facebook. If people would have spent less time bullying me on the internet and causing me grief and more time sweeping the acorns off their sidewalks then this issue would already be resolved.

No, he said, his post wasnt a joke. Not the barefoot acorn thing and not an earlier post to the group about his other passion: unicycling.

Just to clarify: we are only interested in SERIOUS unicycling, he wrote. This isnt just a hobby for us, so if you are just a casual unicyclist kindly move along, thanks.

All of this raises troubling questions. Is there a window for barefoot running in Minnesota? Does that window close sometime around snow-in-the-forecast and acorns-hurt-my-feet season?

No, Curtis said, he can run barefoot in the winter, as long as people shovel the sidewalks. Minneapolis homeowners, he noted, seem much more open to snow removal than acorn removal.

Honestly, I WISH this was a joke, he wrote. These acorns are not funny to me. My feet have the bruises to show it.

He started running barefoot, he said, because my healer told me that shoes, contrary to popular belief, actually cause all sorts of health problems.

After a day as an internet punchline, he said, he thought about giving up on his barefoot runs through the acorn minefields of Northeast. Im afraid people will recognize me now, he said. But you know what? Ive decided Im not going to let that stop me.

Im not going to lie. That post was hilarious, and I plan to spend several hours making a felt ornament of a squirrel riding a unicycle in its honor.

But there was a real person behind that post and acorns do hurt, so I suppose it wouldnt kill us to break out the brooms as a gesture of kindness to any passing barefoot runners or dogs with tender paw pads or neighbors who are unsteady on their feet. The Minneapolis city code has at least half a dozen ordinances that boil down to keep the sidewalks clear, you monsters.

So far, Curtis said, he hasnt heard from any neighbors who want to join him on a barefoot run or a serious unicycle ride. I wouldnt, because I stepped on a Lego once, thank you very much. But if I see a hardy soul pattering by in bare feet this winter, Ill wave hello.

For Curtis, the past few days have been painful. But not bare-feet-on-acorn painful.

This is a man who runs barefoot in Minnesota: I think that makes me tougher than most people both physically and emotionally.

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