News / Canada

Man running barefoot from Montreal to Argentina

Joseph Michael Liu Roqueñi has run about 250 kilometres in the past two weeks,  just a fraction of a mainly barefoot journey from Montreal to Argentina,  and has already encountered some emotional hills and valleys.

The Concordia graduate left Montreal at the beginning of June and plans to reach Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America, in two years, running barefoot or in minimal sandals and, sometimes, in Crocs.

He spoke with Metro from Rutland, Vt., on Tuesday.

“Canada was very short, as Montreal’s very close to the border,” he said.

“However, I think it was very interesting because the first couple of days for me were like a roller-coaster, in the mix of feelings I was going through,” Liu Roqueñi said.

He left Montreal surrounded by family, friends and media. A group of friends began the run with him, but by the first night he was on his own and reality set in.

“I’ve never done anything like this, leaving everything behind, finishing school, putting aside any work or anything and dedicating my life for two years to this project,” he added

Liu Roqueñi said he is devoting the next two years to running because he hopes it will make him a better person.

Liu Roqueñi said he is devoting the next two years to running because he hopes it will make him a better person.

“Over two years, I’m going to have my ups and downs,” he said. “All the experiences and situations that I’ll be facing, I want to see how I solve them and how I gain from them in becoming a better person and growing my virtues.”

He’ll also be sponsoring a charity in each country he passes through. In Canada, it was Pathways to Education. He hasn’t found the right American charity yet, but already has one picked out for Mexico.

The highs and lows have been personal, some days he feels good, some days he doesn’t.

“When I get a lot of energy and I feel like I have a lot of strength, the runs are easier, so I’m able to enjoy the scenery,” he said. “In comparison, other days I’m really, really tired and just looking at my watch, the distance and the time. I’m struggling, looking at the pavement, wondering how much more it’s going to take. Mentally, every time I look at my watch it seems like longer and longer.”

He set out planning to sleep in his tent at night, but after his first night, his brother has been calling ahead to the towns he will arrive in and found free accommodation in a hotel.

“What I’d never thought of is coping with being smelly and sticky and stinky,” he said.

“That first night in my tent was not a very comfortable experience.”

Liu Roqueñi said he’ll need more sponsorship to finish his journey.

“I’ve put a lot of effort and money into this. All my savings,” he said. “So far, it’s not happening the way I’d like it to, in terms of companies sponsoring. I’m facing a financial situation where I’m running out of money.”

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