Did Abebe Bikala run a marathon without running shoes?

The marathon is usually a challenging event; it is 26.2 miles of hard running. It's hard on the body, particularly the feet which is the reason all marathon runners spend so much consideration to what is on their feet. They spend considerable time finding the suitable footwear and a lot of money is associated with running shoes. Back at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, the Ethiopian, Abebe Bikala turned up for the marathon where there were no shoes remaining in the teams gear that would fit him, so he ran the marathon without shoes and went on to win the gold medal. This is widely acclaimed as a extraordinary accomplishment.

Recently there has been a group of athletes who are implying the running shoes are not all they may be believed to be and are recommending that running must be done barefoot, just like nature made us for. After all, we were not created with shoes and historical humans simply had to run great distances without running shoes to survive as animals needed to be hunted on foot over great distances. Running shoes are actually only a quite recent creation. Those who endorse the barefoot approach to running love to point out the achievements of Abebe Bikala as even more justification that we don't need running shoes. There are obviously a number of other arguments both for as well as against barefoot running, with hardly any scientific evidence supporting it. While Abebe Bikala getting the gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics without running shoes obviously suggest that it can be done, what those who like to tout his achievements as evidence often omit that he subsequently went on to get the gold medal as well as break the world record in the marathon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games. Abebe Bikala was able to set the world record this time wearing running shoes; in other words he could actually run faster when he was wearing running shoes. We might well have evolved to run without footwear, but we also evolved in an environment before concrete and hard surfaces came along. While the accomplishments of Abebe were incredible, using him as proof that it is better doesn't stack up to critique.