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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!
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  • no profile photo SCOTTLEEBELL
    Does the naked run take place every year?
    1843 days ago
    I really enjoyed reading about your naked race. How often do we get a chance to be naked in public without fear of a ticket? Sounds like a blast.
    2535 days ago
    Good luck with your first 5K, Mike! Yeah, shoot for the 40 miler; I'd love to see you there. Race information is posted on the WV Mountain Trail Runners website:
    2642 days ago
    That's awesome. I'm still working my way up the endurance ladder. Started the couch to 5K thing back in January. My regular runs (3 days a week) vary between 30 minutes and 45 minutes. I haven't had the nerve to tackle the 1 hour run yet, although I'm getting close. I plan on running a 5K in September in Charleston and then who knows? I'd love to work my way up to doing the 40 mile endurance thing just to prove to myself that I could do it. Maybe next year?
    2642 days ago
    Mike, there weren't any breaks in the 40-miler, although I did sit down for a few minutes at the halfway mark to wash my feet and change my shoes and socks. (The first half of the course was very muddy.)

    It took me 11 hours and 50 minutes. I barely made the 12-hour cutoff time. And I actually didn't do a whole lot of running because the terrain was so rocky and rugged; most of it was more like a fast hike. I was sore as all heck when I finished, but I want to do it again next year. (The scenery -- Dolly Sods to Canaan Valley -- was spectacular.)
    2642 days ago
    How was the 40 mile trail race? Were there breaks? How long did it take you?
    2642 days ago
    Thanks for the comments, everybody.

    @Jennifer - Cincinnati hosts a 5K Gorilla Run in the spring, in which all the runners dress up in gorilla costumes (costumes are provided). Think I might do that one!
    2643 days ago
    This is the bravest and wildest thing I've ever heard. After participating in this, what could possibly be left on your bucket list?
    2643 days ago
    One word. Awesome.
    2643 days ago
  • DMF2012
    Wow, sounds like fun!
    2644 days ago
    shoes and no clothes that had to be funny. sounds fun
    2645 days ago
    Good questions! Let's see ...

    1. Yes, they did give out shirts, with the logo "Streak Naked 5K" and a running bird (looks like a roadrunner, maybe?). On the back is the name of the race sponsor, Bare Butts A-Runnin.

    2. A lady used a black marker to write our race numbers on our biceps.

    3. Socks ... Yes, I think most of the runners wore socks, but no knee socks (which would have been even funnier).

    4. Photography was not allowed at this particular race. However, I've read that it sometimes is permitted at other nudist camp races, as long as the participants agree beforehand to being photographed.
    2645 days ago
    Inquiring minds want to know:

    Did they give out commemorative race shirts?
    Where do you put your race number?
    Did many runners wear socks?
    Was there a race photographer on the course?
    2645 days ago
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