Naked Run 10: Negev Desert

Incense Route
Negev Desert
October 2015

I never intended to travel to Israel, to the heart of conflict. I never expected to be adjacent to the Dead Sea, in the Negev Desert, only kilometers from the Jordan border.

Never in my wildest imagination could I have envisaged running naked in the Negev.

But I did.

Finding myself on a three day workshop near Tsofar (Zofar) I couldn’t resist the temptation to run. I had brought my shoes and shorts. Despite the mild autumn desert heat, I had hoped to – at a minimum – find a cooler morning or evening slot for a short clothed run.

Late one afternoon I set out with my GPS assistant (this was not a place to get lost!), clad only in my shoes and shorts. Given that from what I could ascertain nudity is prohibited in Israel, I had to be cautious. A clothed run would be perfectly acceptable and beautiful under the circumstances.

Perfect naked running landscape: the Incense Route through the Negev Desert
Perfect naked running landscape: the Incense Route through the Negev Desert

The Incense Route was a trade route for frankincense and myrrh (and other spices and riches) between the Middle East and Europe, in common usage for 900 years (from 700BC to 200AD). I was on the segment between Petra and the ancient port at Gaza. Running naked in the shadow of this ancient history was powerful – more so than the stunning setting – although there was no real physical sense of the existence of the route: camel tracks don’t last that long!

A naked run following the incense route in the Negev Desert

As I discovered, then followed, what appeared to be the Israeli national mountain biking trail, I felt much more relaxed about not losing my way. Which, in turn gave me confidence to shed my shorts.

The full Israeli National Mountain Biking Trail
The full Israeli National Mountain Biking Trail

Which I did. But despite the stunning setting and mild heat I did not feel relaxed. Some people do get a sense of excitement from breaking rules, the possibility of being caught adding excitement to the experience whatever it may be.

In my case, the feeling of excitement comes from the letting go. From the igniting the fire in the belly that come with naked running. The potential of being caught doing something unacceptable dampened that fire. It wasn’t the same as the total freedom of body that comes with running without risk.

Unlike my run in the dunes of Fuerteventura, the Negev is a desert bereft of all living creatures. Fuerteventura was a living zoo. The Negev was a vacuum space absence of life. It was an unsettling feeling. Of course, no risk of a snake bite or a sting of any kind.

After my Streak for Tigers run and the other runs in natural, living, wild locations, I had expected to connect even more profoundly with the cave man in my psyche. Despite the proximity to the cradle of life (mythological in Jordan or scientifically in Africa), I did not feel like a wild man connecting to my distant ancestors by running naked here – quite the contrary. I was surprised. The experience was surprisingly hollow.

Naked Run Facts
Date: 23 October 2015
Location: Incense Route at Moa, Tsofar, Negev Desert, Israel

Time of Day: 16:30
Air Temperature: approximately 27c
Conditions: partly cloudy
Run Length: 4k naked of 6k total
Duration (h:mm): 00:20 naked
Barefoot or Shoes: running shoes

Other Nearby Naked Running Sites
Probably anywhere, if secluded.

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