September 19, 2020. In the midst of the pandemic, I ran an actual race this morning. Although I’m not yet comfortable participating in group runs this was very small, so the field spread out almost immediately and social distancing wasn’t a problem. It was run on private property so there was no issue with getting permits, but, yes, it was timed and registration was via RunSignUp. Results, however, are posted with first name and last initial only. So what race was this? The annual Sun Bare Whispering 5K at the Whispering Pines Nudist Resort in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Yep, it was a naked race.
Bart Yasso included a chapter in his book about having run a naked 5K. Runner’s World wrote about naked races in 2014, and the New York Times published an article at the end of August about naked racing in a pandemic. This has been a crazy year, without many live racing options. Why not run what might seem like a crazy race? Although I was nervous as I pulled into the resort, now that I’ve done it once I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
As soon as I parked, it was time to drop all clothing other than my running shoes. What was most weird was how it didn’t really feel weird. After all, everyone else was in the same state. There were many shapes and sizes, and ages from 20 to 70. Nobody was judging your body and you weren’t judging anyone else’s. Make no mistake: There was nudity, but nothing sexual. It was very freeing.
Since there’s nowhere for a bib, your race number was written on your arm in magic marker. Once the race director yelled “GO,” we were off and running just like at any other race, although the feeling of fresh air over ALL of my skin was different and pretty wonderful! The course was well-marked and over dirt road and grass. The resort’s race volunteers and other members were very welcoming, providing a water stop and lots of cheers during the race.
After finishing, each person remained to cheer in all the other runners. Beer, water and bananas were available. The awards ceremony followed, where everyone got a T-shirt, and as medals were handed out there more cheers and many congratulations offered. I chatted with the other runners and the resort members just like I would at any other race. It didn’t feel odd at all to be having these conversations in the buff. Although I had to hurry back to Winston-Salem for work, with your race fee you’re welcome to spend the day at the resort. There’s a pool, hot tub and clubhouse, as well as a meal of barbecue (that had been cooking all night long!) and the fixings.
Some helpful info if you’re thinking of running a naked race: Since you have no place to carry your car key(s), find a place up under your bumper or on a tire to leave them. No one’s going to take your car. This race is at 10 a.m. in September, which can be HOT. Remember, you won’t have a shirt to wipe the sweat off your face so you may want to carry a small towel. Sunscreen. I don’t think I need to explain that.
My last bit of advice? Naked races aren’t for everyone, but if you’re thinking about running one, JUST DO IT! You only ever grow if you step out of your comfort zone and this was truly one of the coolest races I’ve ever run!