Streak Naked 5K Race (Yes, THAT kind of naked)
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
What do you do when it's only June and you've already run your biggest race of the year? Everything after that is a bit of anticlimatic. That's what happened to me a few weeks back, after I tackled a grueling (but fun) 40-mile trail race. In the weeks following the Highlands Sky 40 Miler, I was feeling a little down in the dumps. I had other races planned this year, but nothing as memorable as the big one. Knowing I wasn't ready to tackle another ultramarathon this soon, I set my sights on a shorter race -- something crazy and unique.
That's when I remembered reading a Runner's World article in which the author wrote about running a naked 5K race and I thought, "Hey, I could do that!" Yes, you read it right. I don't mean naked in the "no HRM or iPod" sense. I mean naked as in nude. In the buff. Sans clothes. Streaking!
So I did some Googling and found a 5K race taking place at White Thorn Lodge, a family nudist resort in Pennsyvania, near the Ohio border. I registered before I lost my nerve, figuring that was the best way to assure that I would go through with it; otherwise I would lose the $30 registration fee I paid.
Come race day, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was surreal, driving through the gates of the resort and seeing a bunch of naked people doing the same things that clothed (or bathing-suited) people would be doing: driving golf carts, swimming, playing volleyball. Once I parked my car I had one brief moment of panic: I was about to get naked. In public!
Then it occurred to me that, with all these other naked people around, why would anyone pay particular attention to me? I'm not that special! Once I got past that (took me maybe five minutes), I stripped down right there in the parking lot, leaving on my running shoes. (And believe me, there is something utterly hilarious about wearing shoes while naked.)
Turns out there was anywhere from 50 to 75 people competing in the race. Most of the runners were men, but the spectators were a pretty even mix of men and women. And yes, running without a sports bra is certainly ... interesting. There was a good deal of movement, but it didn't hurt. It was a trail race, with some challenging elevation changes that I didn't expect. My finish time was 33 minutes and change -- a good deal slower than my usual 26-27 minute 5K time. But the other 5Ks I've run have all been on paved, flat surfaces, so I'll give myself a little leeway.
After I finished, I stuck around for the awards ceremony and watched the other runners come through the finish line (and yes, naked people running are funny!). The atmosphere was festive as the disc jockey cranked out party songs, including Ray Stevens' "The Streak." Turns out I won first place in my division. The people were friendly and welcoming enough (there is nothing sexual about a nudist resort) that I felt comfortable in hanging around for a few more hours to swim and sunbathe.
I never felt embarrassed -- maybe a little awkward -- but the feeling of liberation was worth it. I haven't been naked outdoors since I was a toddler. Would I do it again? Sure, why not!