Issaquah entrepreneur puts flip flops to the test in Pamplona

Matthew ‘Griff’ Griffin attempts to hang a pair of his Combat Flip Flops on the horns of a bull in Pamplona. (Photo from Reuters/Eloy Alonso)

This Afghanistan veteran really, really wants you to like his company on Facebook.

This week, former Army Ranger, social entrepreneur and Issaquah resident Matthew Griffin, proved that flip flops are indeed bad for running when he joined the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

“Bad for running, worse for fighting” is the slogan of Combat Flip Flops, which aims to provide jobs to Afghan factory workers through production of specialty footwear.

During a tour of a factory meant to manufacture Afghan military uniforms, Griffin, who goes by Griff, saw potential in the ingenuity of an anonymous jokester who had made a flip flop using the sole of a combat boot.

Back in February I profiled Combat Flip Flops for the Seattle Globalist, in an article that explored the challenges of doing business in Afghanistan and the collapse of the manufacturing sector there after American military contracts dried up.

A few years after Griff’s had his big idea, Combat Flip Flops has produced its first order of the footwear and has been working hard to promote its brand. Griff’s adventurousness led him to Spain on a promise that he would run with the bulls if Combat Flip Flops could get 10,000 likes on Facebook.

They actually only ended up with about 3,000 likes. But he did it anyway.

Leading up to the event, the company produced a series of videos of Griff’s “training” for the running of the bulls, including one where Griff talks with a UK veteran and amputee, another where he wears an attack suit and runs from police dogs wearing flip flops, and another where he visits a wooden shoe company in the Netherlands to practice running in difficult footwear.

This morning, Griff emailed to let us know that the run went well.

“Flip Flops are bad for running—so we proved it,” he said.

On Day 1 of the encierro, as its known in Spanish, Griff ran in regular athletic shoes to get a feel for the route. On Day 2, he snuck the flip flops into the event, changed into them and walked the last 200 meters to the Plaza del Toros (the bull ring) with the bulls running past him.

“Once I got into the stadium, I changed back into shoes and tried to hang my flops on a bull’s horns,” he said.

Stay tuned for a video of the adventure, coming soon.

And for goodness sake, like Combat Flip Flops on Facebook before Griff really hurts himself.

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