By Pete Williams, AANR Staff Writer
Mirroring the national running boom, the number of clothing-optional races has exploded in recent years and 2015 figures to set another record for running in the buff.
Though no official statistics are kept on the number of nude races, there’s little doubt that running a 5K in the buff is appearing on more and more bucket lists.
In fact, the new book “The Runner’s Bucket” List: 200 Races to Run BeforeYou Die” included a chapter on clothing-optional races. Several prominent websites have included nude runs among recent rankings of runs, including Greatist.com (“29 Most Incredible Themed Races of 2014”), Buzz Feed (“Fifteen Themed Races You’d Actually Want to Do”), and Blood- SweatandCheers. com, whose ranking of “Six Best Naked Runs” included the Bare Buns Fun Run at Kaniksu Ranch in Washington state.
“A lot of people are curious about nudism, but aren’t motivated to come on a normal weekend,” says Sabrina Vizzari, who as a 20-year-old activities coordinator for Florida’s Lake Como Resort in 1993 created the Dare to Go Bare 5K. “But with a 5K, you have a public event where there are a lot of other first-time nudists. That makes people more apt to come out.”
Running in the nude competitively dates back to at least the ancient Greeks, who staged nude sports events, including the first Olympics. Streaking was a popular 1970s fad, and students at the University of Virginia still doff their clothes at night to streak the historic “lawn” section of campus designed by Thomas Jefferson.
Clothing-optional 5K races in North America date back to 1984, when Kaniksu Ranch organized its first race, but the latest running boom has inspired some clubs to host their first 5K runs. With popular themed races such as color runs, mud runs, obstacle races, and foam runs, soaring in popularity, it’s perhaps not surprising that nude races have generated increased interest.
“People already are wearing very little and getting muddy at other events,” says Whit Lasseter, a Tampa area personal trainer, endurance athlete, and longtime participant in nude 5K races. “Why not just avoid the nasty sweaty running clothes, race naked, and jump in the pool when you’re done?”
Why nude running? Some people sign up for clothing-optional races as bucketlist items only to find they enjoy the experience so much they add a nude race to their annual running schedules. Unlike most races, where runners tend to depart the race site immediately following the finish or awards ceremony, runners tend to make a day—or even a weekend—out of a nude run.
“We’ve had a number of people come from out of state specifically for this race,” said Ted Hadley, owner of the Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee, Fla. “The race itself might only take them 25 or 30 minutes, but they make a weekend or even a week out of it.”
Last year, Cypress Cove held the world’s first clothing-optional stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race and this year, The Cove will host both its second-annual SUP event and fifth-annual Streak the Cove 5K on the same weekend (September 12-13, 2015).
Since races typically attract health-conscious, open-minded people, runners attending nude events represent an untapped, potential membership base already predisposed to nude recreation.
Avid runners might be surprised to see how well organized the nude races are. Most offer the same features of a non-nude race: a visible time clock at the finish line, T-shirts and awards, and volunteers providing water on the course.
Nudist resorts typically use the race as the focal point for an open house and offer tours of the resort after the run. Most races include refreshments, a post-race awards ceremony and, often, a band.
There are so many clothing-optional races that it’s difficult to keep track of them all, though the website nuderuns.com maintains an up-to-date listing of races in North America and around the world.
Reprinted with permission from the AANR Bulletin, February 2015.
The American Association for Nude Recreation - Western Region
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