High Heel Racing

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, for those of you who do not follow the sporting pages, in Eastern Europe July is the month for the sport of High Heel Racing!

In St. Petersburg…

In Moscow…

In Berlin.

All of it madness!


48 Responses to “High Heel Racing”

  1. Jezebella Says:

    Those stiletto races are SO offensive! That top picture: one woman is on the pavement, another looks like she’s about to break her ankle. Absurd.

  2. H. Says:

    I agree. All I see is an opportunity for broken ankles and twisted knees. Not funny.

  3. Amanda Says:

    The thing is, these twits are actually willing to participate. I doubt (hope not?) they are forced into participating.

  4. wildflower Says:

    The twisted ankle girl makes me cringe more than the one who’s fallen. I have to confess that this is a phobia of mine–having to run in stilettos. It’s so bad that sometimes when I on my morning run (in my asics, natch), I have weird flashes of “Geeze, what if I were wearing 3-inch stilletoes now? How scary!”

    OK I’m weird. Maybe it comes from seeing snapshots from these silly races.

  5. linda grant Says:

    Despicable. How much happier they were in days gone by when they could enjoy the innocent carefree pleasures of queuing at the GUM stores for sturdy boots and hessian headscarves or writing their Stasi reports on the neighbours.

  6. daisyj. Says:

    Ow ow ow ow OW!

    And that’s just from looking at the pictures.

  7. gemdiva Says:

    Oh the shoemanity!

  8. Jezebella Says:

    linda grant, if stiletto races over cobblestones are the logical end result of the fall of communism, I’m a rabbit with a pink afro. I think I’ll take sturdy GUM boots over ankle-breaking stilettos for my daily run, thankyouverymuch.

  9. Poochie Says:

    Those poor shoes too! Why is Glamour sponsoring this? It seems demeaning.


  10. Noga Says:

    Well said, Jezebella!

    Let’s put all the anti-crocites to the test and ask them: isn’t this the very obverse side of the ugly croc mania? Overstretching the notion of female elegance and aesthetics to its maximum absurdity?

    High heels – The final frontier
    The forays of silly women into self-ridicule
    To explore strange new limb breaking opportunities
    To seek out new challenges and new exploitations
    To boldly go where no woman has gone before, willingly.

    Who is the genius who came up with this galactically stupid and potentially ankle-twisting, leg-breaking idea? Where is actually the sporty spirit in this kind of combination? Where is the fun in it? Sheer madness on the part of the participants and cynical exploitation by the organizers.

  11. daisyj. Says:

    I heartily disagree that this is the logical outcome of croc-rejection. In fact, I would say that they are more like two sides of the same coin: wearing shoes inappropriate to the activity at hand (or, rather, foot).

  12. gemdiva Says:

    Probably the same person who came up with the idea of strapping boards to the bottom of your feet and sliding down the highest snow-covered mouhtain you can find at break-neck speed. Or maybe it was the same person who thought tying sharp metal blades to your feet while wearing little ballerina tutus for protection and dancing on the ice was fun. And while we’re on the subject, have you ever seen a ballet dancer”s feet under those cute satin shoes? Talk about painful! Let’s face it, there are as many different kinds of foot wear as there are competitions & activities (sane and not so sane). Can we all just stop being “offended”? Seems to me that the ladies understand the risks involved and are voluntarily participating for love or money. Hey, whatever laces up your Buster Browns, you go girl!

  13. Annie Says:

    When I initially saw this, I thought it was kind of cute and funny. I am surprised to see that so many people find it degrading (I understand why people are offended – but really, aren’t high heels just silly in the first place? Why not have fun with it?)

    As someone who makes high heels for a living, and who has often had to run to catch a train or bus in my heels, I always thought the ability to run in heels is a good thing…

  14. deja pseu Says:

    Is anyone else here old enough to remember the Easy Spirit commercials with the women playing basketball in 3″ pumps? (“Looks like a pump/Feels like a sneaker!’)

  15. Jen Says:

    Nothing compared to Washington, DC’s great drag races!


  16. Poochie Says:

    I would respectfully like to disagree with the examples you used. I don’t think the skis or ice skates or toe shoes are in the same vein as this. All of those pieces of equipment were designed to maximize the ability of the human form to participate in those activities.

    This is the opposite of that, I think. It also has the whiff of male created exploitation – lets get a bunch of the (young) girls to run in their heels! Whoo hoo!


  17. gemdiva Says:

    Poochie, you have obviously never tried to dance in toe shoes. Nothing about them is made to maximize human ability. They are made to hold the foot at an unatural angle that some nit wit decided was artistically pleasing and is tantamount to torture. And come on, when those little girls miss their double axels and land with nothing but spandex between them and the ice, just so their trainer, parents and fans can get a thrill, don’t you think they end up bruised. Come on, football players have more protection. My point is, no one is forcing any of them to abuse their bodies. They do it because they want to. So let them run in high heels. To whom is this degrading? You? Me? I’m not running in stilettos are you? If they want to, then who am I to criticize. I thought my generation fought to give women choices, not to insist that they all walk in the same groove.

  18. faye Says:

    I would love to participate. I have developed after many years of training the ability to run in four inch stiletto pumps, which I dare say have come in handy before walking home at night in manhattan. It also never fails me when running after a bus or a taxi or my nephews and nieces that I sometimes look after.

  19. faye Says:

    and manolo you failed to mention what the ladies would win if they won!

  20. Tia Nieve Says:

    I am of two minds about this. My first reaction was that it was hideous and grotesque. But then I recalled the many years I spent backstage with a classical ballet company, doing props. The bizarre shoe, the grotesque angle of the foot, all while performing the most demanding athletic maneuvers – is it that this stiletto racd is no more grotesque than classical ballet, or is it that classical ballet is as sick and grotesque as stiletto races?

    BTW — there is nothing uglier than the foot of an experienced ballet dancer. Nothing.

  21. Ninjarina Says:

    I’m sorry gemdiva and Tia Nieve but I think the foot of an experienced ballet dancer is the most beautiful thing in the world. I used to stare and marvel at photos of Baryshnikov’s perfectly pointed foot, his beautiful high instep, and the intensity of the throbbing veins (in a non-sexual way of course).

    Those beautiful strong insteps and perfectly winged feet are built, not made. I didn’t spend hours in front of the TV doing eleves and releves for nothing. Feet can be trained and the shape and construction of pointe shoes have evolved (as well as boots and blades in figure skating) but high heels were pretty much designed to be used between the taxi and the dinner table – very little walking, much less running.

  22. Tracy Says:

    I was also surprised that anyone was offended by this. No one’s forcing these women to participate. Don’t you think they have minds of their own? I’m sure they choose, as do I, to see it as an example of empowering femininity in a fun and unconventional way.

  23. Olga Says:

    Oh, the ladies and misses of Eastern Europe! [sigh]

    – As surely as the summer heat gets more intense in July here in the Old Continent, these particular races are brought to our attention by the press every year to bring amusement to our poor souls suffocating in hot trams, tubes and omnibuses. Oh yes – amusing to some, to others not..

    But do not scorn these ladies, I beg you!
    I’ve been informed that the rules of these competitions demand the participants’ heels must be 4 inches long – a frightfull height to my humble self! However – this will not be an obstacle to the ladies, as many of them wear high heels regularly, daily, despite the cobblestone pavements or any other hindrances posed by European cities. So let me assure you – those who attend know very well what the task and the risks will be.

    And as Faye hinted earlier, they will be greatly rewarded for a victory! The price is a copious amount of SHOPPING MONEY (some 2000 – 3,5000 USD), which would.. be very nice to spend.. [sigh!] ..for example, in the Manolo Blahnik Moscow store!

    – If only I had ANY chances against these women! [sobs]

  24. rxl Says:

    Ninjarina- Baryshnikov didn’t wear toe shoes.

  25. Casey Says:

    I believe they won $1,000 and some swag from Glamour, but correct me if I’m wrong. And Jen – I NEVER miss DC’s Drag Races! They are so much fun!

  26. gemdiva Says:

    Hey rxl, you took the words right out of my mouth.

  27. desertwind Says:

    Ach, I love the winner of the Berlin hoof fest!

    But, okay, now they’ve done a good gallop on the straightaway.

    Surely cobblestones hurdles is next?

  28. VeddyVeddyBadAng Says:

    As a runner, I am very impressed by the athletic ability of these women. Not only are they running – FAST – but they’re also dealing with some wicked balance issues on those high heels! Good for them. If I had the inclination to perfect my running technique in this particular type of event, I wouldn’t see it as demeaning at all. It’s just one more challenge on top of the already daunting challenge of winning a foot race.

  29. lady friend Says:

    Oh but it’s like the Charlie’s Angels practice. they’re all just working hard at becoming the next saviorette of the world.

  30. Ninjarina Says:

    rxl – even though he did not wear toe shoes, he worked just as hard. Have you ever seen his feet?

    Also, there are male ballet troupes that perform en pointe. Ballets de Trockadero (The Trocks) perform en travesti but they are genuinely artistic and satirical without being mockingly demeaning:


    Even big male feet can be trained properly to perform the most graceful skimming bourees of Fokine’s choreography.

  31. Ninjarina Says:

    Here is Ballet Grandiva’s version:


    Trocks and Grandiva are all male troupes.

  32. danusia Says:


    that’s fantastic!!!!!! xD i wish there was a racing like that in brazil. it would be the only sport i’d practice (once in a year, of course)!

    btw… manolo, J’ADORE your blog. xO

  33. toad Says:

    At the Berlin race there was a Glamor sign displaying 10,000 Euros.
    Anything that attracts a camera will attract advertisers and sponsers if it attracts veiwers. Also these seem to be sprint races over short distances. Those you can do on your toes for the most part. They shouldn’t put a whole lot of weight on the heel if they can maintain proper form.
    Having said all that, when I fist heard about a high heel race in Moscow last year I believed it would be a one shot wonder. Off course I also thought rap music was going to have a short life.

  34. toad Says:

    A PS: In Europe do to urban design they walk a lot more than we do in the US. The lady’s also walk in heels a lot more. As you go into Eastern Europe it is even more apparant.

  35. Ninjarina Says:

    ^^ Women in metropolitan places in Asia such as Tokyo and Beijing are like that too. It’s very bad for the feet to always be walking in heels.

  36. visitor Says:

    Novelty racing is nothing new. In Toronto years ago they held the “Rat Race” down the main business street, with the competitors in business attire and carrying briefcases.

    This is just one of the endless possible variations.

  37. Phyllis Says:

    The really hard core racers duct tape the shoes to their feet…I didn’t see any of that in thse heats.

    However, it’s still strange, painful and we might as well just bring back foot binding.

  38. Jezebella Says:

    Ah, yes, these women “choose” to do this, as so many women “choose” to be strippers, and to have their feet bound, and have their daughters’ clitoris’ removed. There is no free will under the patriarchy. These women are risking their health – a lifetime of limping, a knee replacement, a torn ACL – for a little shopping money? These are surely not professional athletes, as no pro would risk her legs and joints for something so absurd.

    Imagine men racing in stilettos, or even slick-soled formal pumps they would wear in a tuxedo. Who would watch that? Who would pay for it? No one, because this race isn’t about running or speed or athleticism. It’s about schadenfreude: watching silly women risk life and limb for a bit of shopping money. Sadly, these women do choose such absurdity.

    I wrote to US Glamour about these very events, and they absolutely disavowed any thing to do with stiletto races. Only European Glamour sponsors them.

  39. Morgan Says:

    Wow. I cannot believe the level of offense that some people are taking at this…seriously, to see Jezebel put this on the same level as having feet bound or being a stripper? All of these women absolutely chose to do this. Why? To have some fun! To do something out of the ordinary! To LIVE. Which, I dare say, might be something that is not being done enough by someone who would actually take the time to write Glamour about this being offensive and absurd. If you have a problem with it the solution is easy…don’t participate!!!! I might add that for some women, the ability to run in heels is quite empowering especially when it comes to the whole men vs. women thing. (Most) men could never walk in heels, let alone run in them, so more power to us women who enjoy heels and, if we wanted to, could run in them!!!!

  40. Michael Says:

    I can\’t believe I missed this one. I\’ll be checking some other sites on this.

  41. G. Sol Says:

    I am seeing alot of comments about Russia, GUM (Russian department stores) and Eastern Europe. Apparently many commenters believe that stiletto races only take place in so-called “backward” countries? Sorry! Stiletto races take place in many forward(?) countries such as The Netherlands, Germany and Australia. On this page you will see videos of stiletto races from all around the world.


    My question is why do Americans always think that they are superior? These comments read something like “Pity those poor unfortunates living outside of our wonderful country doing something so degrading” Have you never heard of women participating in Wet T-Shirt contests in Ft. Lauderdale? Why do they do it? For money! It might be less dangerous but is it less degrading?

  42. Randy Says:

    Hi I am a man and I don’t see why this is so offensive. These girls choose to participate in the race, and if you watch some of the videos of the stiletto runs, most of the girls look like they are having fun.

    If the race was open to men I would gladly participate, as it looks like fun, but only if I had an equal shot at the prizes…

    I believe the rules are 7cm high heels that are no wider than 1.5cm at the bottom. Though some of the rules require 9cm heels, such as the moscow run. most our 100meter dashes though it ranges from 50 meters, to a 350 meter run in amsterdam, oh and there is a 3″ high heel 0.5k run in Buffallo NY USA.

    I would love to race any woman who would be willing in stilettos for fun.
    Feel free to E-mail me [email protected]

  43. Jen Says:

    Oh, give me a break! You people need to get the stilettos out of your rear ends. That girl “on the pavement” is smiling. She obviously dove for the finish line; she didn’t get injured. I don’t know about other places, but Eastern European women as a whole don’t see wearing stilettos on ice and cobblestones as any big deal. Perhaps there’s a little jealousy going on here. Another thing, people who wear heels a lot tend to have really good leg and thigh muscles. Let’s hope the stuffed shirts here never get kicked by one of those girls! Lighten up, and have some fun, or at least don’t try to spoil others’ fun.

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