5k Naked Run, Naturist Foundation, Orpington, Kent
Having only started running at age 49 (two years prior), and having worked up from that starting point to comfortably running 5 to 7 k per run, two to three times per week, I was ready for my first timed 5k run.
Or was I?
After the naked running experience in the Algarve, I joined two naturist-friendly social networks to further investigate the experience of natural naturism and potentially participate in social nudity. That was nearly nine months earlier and suddenly I saw posted in the events page of naktiv.net a 5k naked run at the Naturist Foundation. Was I ready to combine a timed run, a naked run and social nudity, all in one experience? For me, a shy naturist, it was a big leap:
- A physical running challenge.
- A timed run.
- A naked run with other people.
- A timed naked run. In a naturist campsite.
So many mental/physical obstacles combined. I wasn’t sure I was ready for it.
Being obsessed with climate and warm weather, after registering for the run, I nervously monitored the weather. Would I be able to drop out of the run, blaming the British climate? In the event, doing so would have been justified. It wasn’t raining the morning I left home for the 90 minute drive to the Naturist Foundation site, but it was cold and windy for May, with the thermometer stuck at 12c.
Being Californian, I’m a fair weather person. Naturism has always been associated with warmth and sunshine. Under the cloudy, windy English skies, I have always struggled. My first naked run had been in sunny, warm Portugal. Could I do it here? As I drove to the site, focusing my energy on the car’s thermometer – willing it to rise – it reached 14c by the time I reached the site of the run. I longed for the sun to break through and the wind to calm down. The beautiful bluebell woods surrounding the site was densely shaded: there was no way I was going to be warm. There would be no sand underfoot. No warm sea would be lapping at my toes. This would be a different experience, altogether.
And boy, was it. I had never visited a naturist campsite before. Interesting. The running group totalled about 100 people, 95% male – it appeared most were not members of the Naturist Foundation hosts. A guide walked us around the loop of the running track we would run 2 ½ times to familiarise us with the course.
When the race started, my nerves prevented me from starting both my music player and my GPS tracking. At this early stage of my running career, music provides two crucial devices: it gives me a rhythm, a pace to run to (with carefully selected tracks on my playlist) and it distracts me from hearing my own breathing, prevents me from panicking that I’m going to die. Without the music playing, I was overly conscious of my own panting. The sports psychology of this resulted in me worrying for the first time about my health as I was running.
It was so strange to run in a race. To overtake others. Or be overtaken. Habitually running alone, this was a new sensation, especially as both I and the others were naked. I have to admit, the other male bodies did distract me: all of the locker room anxieties of my youth returned and my eye couldn’t help but gaze at some of the more athletic bodies.
Despite knowing I could easily do 5k, I spent the first lap in agony. I never run in the morning (this run started at 11:00). I never run in the cold (14c). I wasn’t comfortable. I was nervous. I was stiff. However, as usual, after the first five minutes, my body warmed up and I became more confident.
It was then that I re-experienced that fire-in-the-belly feeling that I had during the first run at Ilha Deserta in the Algarve. I had to get past the discomfort that was wrapped up in the new setting, the new circumstances, the climate – all distractions, really. When I focused on the physical sensations of running naked, regardless of context, ignored the other runners, I could embrace and embody the physicality of the experience. That sensation of power and utter liberation spread through me.
Twenty-four minutes later, I was very relieved it was all over. I had overcome all of the physical and psychological obstacles I had faced that day. Also to my surprise, despite the sensations of slowness and pain, I had run much faster than I had run in any of my non-competitive solitary runs, placing respectively high for my age category and just ahead of a regular triathlon runner.
That evening when I got home I immediately booked two holidays in warm climates at sites where I could run naked my way: barefoot and warm. I was truly hooked.
A month later when I received the official photographs of the race, I was shocked to see myself from outside my own body, to see myself launched through the air, flying. My strength and confidence surprised me. Did I really look like that while running? I actually look like a good runner. Is that really me? Looking at myself objectively, I appeared ‘made to run’. It looked natural.
Naked Run Facts
Date: 17 May 2015
Location: Brocken Hurst Campsite, Naturist Foundation, Orpington, Kent, England
Time of Day: 11:00
Air Temperature: 14c
Conditions: shaded bluebell wood in a campsite
Run Length: 5k Run
Duration: 24 minutes, 24 seconds (4:53 per km)
Barefoot or Shoes: shoes
Other Nearby Naked Running Sites
None that I am aware of
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