On a trip to Washington D.C. in the 1980s, I started introducing myself to fellow travelers participating in a summer travel program.
After I said I was from Mobile, Ala., one person responded: “You’re from Alabama? Where are your flips-flops and overalls?”
For a while after that, I avoided the open-air onomatopoeias to demonstrate I was on the classier side of the Deep South clichés.
But after many trips to the Gulf of Mexico, my flip-flops turned into old friends who safely carried me over hot white sand and other waterfront obstacles, despite the number of Bushwackers I had consumed at waterfront bar and lounge the Flora-Bama.
Meanwhile, over the years, flip-flops have created their own space in the sandal industry.
In addition to the cheapies you find at the drug store, there are high-end adventure flops, leather flops, gladiator flops and even flops with various levels of high-heels.
But in June, flip-flops are elevating to an even higher level in the Triangle area. On National Flip-Flop Day, Raleigh-based Feelgoodz footwear brand and nOg Run Club are partnering in an effort to set a world record for the most runners to participate in a flip-flop run.
The event will take place in the historic Oakwood neighborhood on June 20 at 3 p.m. and is open to runners of all ages.
Participants are required to wear unaltered thong flip-flops in a 1K run, which is just more than half a mile.
The current Guinness World Record for most runners to participate in a flip-flop run was set in Vienna, Austria in September 2006 with 352 runners.
Proceeds from the run will support local charities, including a Montagnard education fund, Postpartum Education & Support, Saving Grace pet rescue and many other organizations.
Feelgoodz representatives have been discussing the option with the running club, which also does kilt runs that seek to break a world record, for a couple of years.
“It was kind of a win-win for both organizations,” said Feelgoodz Chief Executive Officer Mark Saad.
Beyond generally having a good time, supporting local charities, the race is also an opportunity for Feelgoodz to connect with new customers, Saad said.
Participants who sign up for the race can pay the $15 general registration fee, or pay $30 and get a pair of rubber Feelgoodz or $45 for a pair of the leather ones.
“It gives them an opportunity to try our product,” he said. “And then, hopefully, fall in love with them.”
Saad said his confidence is based on the 85 to 90 percent of their online customers who return for a second pair.
He also said he has done most of his running in flip-flops in airports trying to catch a flight, but he advises participants to take it slow.
“You don’t have to sprint,” he said. “In fact, we advise against it.”
To learn about the run and after party go to http://bit.ly/flipfliprun.