Man runs 26-mile marathon barefoot for charity

Rick Roeber runs in the Heart of America marathon.

How would you like to run a 26-mile marathon? What about doing it barefoot?

Rick Roeber, 53, wouldn't run any other way.

On Labor Day, Roeber took part in his 63rd race: The Heart of America Marathon in Columbia. It's a four hour, 26.2-mile trek through Boone County's busiest and steepest streets.

What makes Roeber different from the other runners is that he did the whole thing barefoot.

"I get a lot of responses like, 'How do you do that?,'" said Roeber. "And I go, 'Well one step at a time just like you do.'"

He's known as "Barefoot Rick." He's gained the respect of fellow runners, though must would probably rather keep their shoes on.

"There is no way in the world that I would consider" running barefoot, said Ed Rollins, who also ran the marathon. "Especially on the rock section part where it's three miles of dirt road, no way."

This isn't the first time Roeber's run barefoot.

He's ran 45 marathons barefoot and clocked over 15,000 miles running without his shoes. Even in 5-inches of snow, he prefers to go barefoot.

Surprisingly, he says it's helped him run better.

"I haven't had any major knee problems in over five years," said Roeber. "I run basically injury free now because I take shorter steps."

While it all sounds pretty painful, Roeber says he's only stepped on broken glass a few times. So what motivates him? Roeber's running for a charity he started, called Soles for Souls.

The non-profit buys low-cost wheelchairs and sends them to third world countries.

While Roeber didn't come in first on his Labor Day marathon, in many ways, he's still a winner.

So far he's raised over $10,000 for his charity - just by taking his shoes off.