On Tuesday, Eric Curtis alerted his northeast Minneapolis neighbors to a little-known peril faced by urban barefoot runners: acorns.
"Hey Northeasters!" he wrote in the popular Facebook group I Love NE Minneapolis, which has almost 28,000 members. "Lately I've noticed that the sidewalks have been LITTERED with acorns. As a competitive barefoot runner, this makes my training sessions very difficult."
Curtis urged homeowners to sweep their sidewalks; he gently threatened to turn those who don't into the city. The since-deleted post was not well-received.
As Alex Conover cataloged on Twitter, neighbors gleefully teed off on Curtis, whose acorn complaint was widely deemed ridiculous. A previous post from Curtis, where he briskly sought out "SERIOUS" unicycling clubmates, resurfaced and was similarly mocked.
"If only there were something you could put on your feet to protect against the acorns and other debris," one person joked.
"Run with a leaf blower," someone else suggested.
"This is a joke, right?" another asked incredulously.
At one point, Curtis posted a screenshot of a complaint he was apparently submitting to the city; it called out the sidewalk acorns, plus "cyberbullying and threats from the community."
Conover's screenshot rundown of the nutty drama has been re-tweeted nearly 30,000 times. Twin Cities sports talk radio station KFAN addressed it, as did national tech website Gizmodo.
Curtis doesn't find the situation so funny.
"I’m surprised it’s gotten this much attention," he tells City Pages via Facebook. "But I’m grateful because now maybe people will see the level of discrimination that exists against the barefoot running community."
Is this performance art satire, some sort of high-level trolling effort by Curtis? Impossible to say. (Update: It is possible to say; Curtis admitted to BuzzFeed midday Wednesday that the whole thing was a hoax.)
He reports being afraid for his safety, citing threats of sidewalk Legos and being told to "go run on the freeway." The names Curtis was called by fellow Northeasters -- "wackadoodle," "nut," "Nancy," and "pansy" among them -- amount to cyberbullying, he says.
"I was planning on doing a barefoot run tomorrow morning but I now fear being targeted," he adds. "I won’t be unicycling this evening either. Apparently that post has gone viral as well."