Call Me Bigfoot

My feet were hurting in the hiking shoes I got two years ago. That was odd. They were comfortable when I bought them, and they were still in good shape. I kept trying to wear them, but finally gave up on them, and went shoe shopping while I was in the States. I was shocked by what I found.

I’ve worn size 43 European (more or less American size 9.5) for decades, but absolutely nothing in that size fit anymore. As a joke, I went up a half size to 10s. That was better. Then 10.5. I walked out with a pair of those.

I couldn’t find any information online about it. I emailed my brother-in-law, a custom boot maker in Colonial Williamsburg. He said, “the soft connective tissue is what is expanding…” Apparently a year and a half of walking around barefoot or in toe shoes allows feet to resume a more natural shape.

Okay, that was nice to know, but I still had a problem. Where could I find a new pair of shoes? The 10.5s I bought weeks earlier just didn’t fit right. The arch was all wrong. After going to half a dozen shoe stores, I learned that my feet have grown in width, not really in length. Nearly all shoes sold in Asics GT-1000America have a width of D. The next size up is 2E, then the next size up from that is 4E. I did find a pair of Asics GT-1000 running shoes that mostly fit. They are white with neon blue highlights, but I took them anyway. Just call me Flash. Or Bigfoot.

Vibram FiveFinger KSOThe only pair of shoes that still truly fits well are my FiveFinger KSO toe shoes. I hope they hold together for a long time, because they are getting hard to find, even in Dallas. They cost twice as much on this side of the world.

When I came back to Papua New Guinea, I told one of the doctors here, “My feet have been expanding!”

She waved me off. Oh, that happens to everyone here.”


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7 Responses

  1. Carol Oostdyk says:

    That’s crazy!

  2. Leslie says:

    Haha! God bless your feet!

  3. Brett Walker, Boot & Shoemaker says:

    Steve…thanks for the “honourable mention.” It is good to hear yet another voice pointing out that modern shoes cannot hold a candle to either the shoes our colonial forbears wore or (in cases where we can do it) just going barefoot. As I say in the Shoemaker Shop, “If it wasn’t for that little incident in a certain garden with a certain woman and man and a certain tree, tailors and shoemakers would be straight out of business.”

    If you ever want me to put you in touch with Zoé Rios, BOCPD, let me know. [She is the custom shoemaker in Texas who did the great talk in Savannah last year that I think I mentioned to you…the one about kinesiological studies that show how harmful most modern footwear can be.] She would be able to make you anything you want…for a price, of course.

    Stay in touch, brother.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Brett,

      Yeah, you mentioned something about a shoe maker in the Texas area. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time by then, and February – April turned out to be very expensive months for us.

      Up here in the PNG highlands, it’s too cold in the mornings and evenings for going barefoot. The FiveFingers do well for me in most cases. The problem I have is running. The roads are gravel here at the centre, and my feet are not yet tough enough to run around in the Five Fingers. Those stones are sharp. The Asics are doing okay for the moment, but I suspect might not be adequate for longer distances once I work up to them. (The air is thinner at 5,000 feet.) I’ve typically heard you talk about leather. Do custom shoemakers actually make runners?

      I did a search for Ms. Rios. Is this her? Her portfolio looks to be entirely for women.

  4. rebecca ort says:

    Having a stint of selling shoes a few years ago I learned that when buying sport/athletic shoes one needs to buy a 1/2 size larger shoe. It seems that is the way they design/construct them.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, Rebecca. Unfortunately, going up a 1/2 size or a full size hasn’t helped. The sole or the arch is the wrong shape.

      Currently the Asics I’m wearing has come closest. That is a European size 44, which is just a shade bigger than the 43s I used to buy, but it has a width of 4E, which is two sizes wider than before. That hasn’t worked for other brands of shoes, athletic or not.

      I did do a little research when I was still in the States, and no one makes custom running shoes. The new bike shoes I bought are totally unwearable, and I have not yet found anyone that makes wide bike shoes.

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