Wedding dress races. Paint races. Races where people are chased by makeshift bulls. Sports event organizers need to get really creative these days in order to make their events stand out. It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that the latest event on the running calendar is nude racing.
No, you don’t need to re-read that last sentence. Racing sans clothing is a growing trend.
Naked and Afraid? Try Naked and Competitive.
According to an article in Runner’s World, there were, at last count, at least 30 such events across the U.S., and demand was increasing.
More runners are getting up the nerve to run naked, and a growing number of clothing-optional runs are beginning to emerge from beneath the radar. There’s even a National Championship of Nude Running and a 5K Nude Racing Series, consisting of five runs in Texas and Oklahoma, organized by the American Association for Nude Recreation, with another circuit proposed for Florida. And don’t look now (literally) but there are naked obstacle races as well. What’s more, other nude sports events have appeared, including bicycle rides, SUP and pickleball tournaments. In fact, entire sites are devoted to nude sports events worldwide.
Those who favor such races and sports events talk about the empowerment of them, and how they are an in-your-face strike at the body-shaming culture. And once over their fear, some athletes will begin seeking out other opportunities for nude sports and sometimes, opportunities for prolonged nude recreation, such as vacations at special-interest resorts.
The Runner’s World article notes,
Most of these runs are held at nudist resorts or on other private property, but they’re increasingly attracting runners with no experience of nudism who want to try something different.
“There’s no question there’s a bucket-list mentality to this,” says Pete Williams, director of the Caliente Bare Dare 5K, at the upscale Caliente Resort in Land O’Lakes, Florida. This year’s race, held in May, attracted a record 312 runners from 25 states. Williams also directs the Streak the Cove 5K in Kissimmee, Florida in September.
“It’s a great introduction to nudism,” says Ashley Beahan, spokeswoman for the American Association for Nude Recreation. “You don’t have to worry about clothes bunching. It’s a free feeling. It’s more relaxing, exciting.”
While many such competitions are held privately, there’s at least one conventional event, run in public, in which naked participants compete: San Francisco’s annual Bay to Breakers 12K. Nudism enthusiasts use what they call the “Bare to Breakers” event to advocate for clothing-optional events. After years of trying to keep them out, Bay to Breakers officials now tolerate the demonstrators, and the city lifts its ban on public nakedness for them, as long as the naked runners wear an official bib around their necks, a spokeswoman says. In fact, many individuals enjoy it so much they stick around for the post-race party without bothering to put on clothing.
The most frequently asked question is whether people wear sport shoes to run, cycle, play pickleball, etc. Usually, the answer is yes, but there are certainly plenty of purists out there who don’t.