Wegert-Unorthodox, But the Best Ever

“If you run without shoes, you have to be fast.”

Former Grace head coach Neal Butler told senior MariJean Wegert those words two minutes before a track race at IUPUI her freshman year. She had asked Butler if she could run without shoes in the race, and considering the absurdity of the question, he didn’t know the answer. He scrambled around, discovered that it was legal and delivered the good news. “”MJ, you can run without shoes,” he said.

Thus began her shoeless career.

Wegert, in fact, may have been born to treat tracks and cross country courses as holy ground. During track practice her senior year of high school, she decided to try running barefoot, and to her surprise, she beat the best runner on the team, a girl that hadn’t been beaten all year. Then there was the time at Grace when she bought a pair of 3.8 ounce running shoes and immediately got mild tendonitis in her feet.

Even at cross country courses clattered with roots and rocks, she’d rather trash the shoes. She says her “adrenaline” helps her fight through the pain.

Whatever she does, it works. She holds seven records in the track record book, and according to head coach Jeff Raymond, is probably the best women’s cross country runner in Grace history.

And the only one to do it barefoot.

This story was published in the November 12 Homecoming Edition of Grace’s Student Newspaper, The Sounding Board.

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