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The Running of the Folkies

In a blur of sandals and tie-dye, music fans run in the annual folk festival rite: the Birkenstock 500.

By David P. Ball, Geoff D'Auria and Maryse Zeidler 20 Jul 2013 | TheTyee.ca

David P. Ball is a freelance writer and photojournalist on Coast Salish territories.

Geoff D'Auria is the Tyee front-page editor and web manager.

Maryse Zeidler is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

The crowd strains against the starting gate cordon. Sandaled feet paw the ground. Straw hats cocked. A folk fest security guard calms the crowd.

Each year Vancouver Folk Music Festival fans line up early in the morning to take part in an annual ritual, the run to the front of the main stage where blankets stake space for the rest of the day. It's a race colloquially called the "Birkenstock 500."

Competition is fierce.

Three intrepid Tyee reporters braved the onslaught to bring you into the rushing horde.

This photo essay captures the agony and ecstasy of these beautiful running hippies. A Tyee exclusive (inspired by Buzzfeed's "Running of the Interns").

(Suggested soundtrack here.)

Festival-goers champ at the bit, waiting for the gates to open...

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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.

Crowd-control calms the eager folkies...

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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.

Festival fashion reveals different strategies...

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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.

A security volunteer points the way.

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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.

The way.

582px version of Vancouver Folkfest Site Map

And they're off! (With security pacing the throng... for now...)

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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.


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Photo: Geoff D'Auria.


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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.

OK, too close.

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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.

Rounding the bend, the speed-walking peloton overwhelms the volunteer security pacers.

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Photo: Geoff D'Auria.

Almost there...

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Photo: Geoff D'Auria.

What do you mean, stop?! We're almost there!

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Photo: David Ball.

We have a rope.

(In recent years, the festival has slowed runners at the bridge for safety sake before letting them sprint the final stretch.)

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Photo: David Ball.

Racers jostle for bridge position.

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Photo: David Ball.

There they go...

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Photo: Lorian Leong.

...and here they come!

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Photo: Geoff D'Auria.


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Photo: Geoff D'Auria.


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Photo: Geoff D'Auria.

The promised land.

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Photo: David Ball.

Victory is sweet. Let the beautiful music begin.

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Photo: David Ball.

To all the happy folkies, whether in the front of the pack...

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Photo: Maryse Zeidler.

...or the back, well done.

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Photo: Geoff D'Auria.

Missing: Tyee intern Maryse Zeidler. Last seen at start line.

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Photo: David Ball.

Read more: Music, Photo Essays

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