Yes. That Marathon.
There are many cults of running: marathons, 5k, barefoot, extreme, trail, etc. etc. etc.
Maybe even naked running will be a cult one day?
I’m not a member of any cult – I’m a perpetual cynic – but not even I could resist the temptation, while in Athens for a few days, to attempt a naked run at the original site of the mythic birthplace of the running cult to beat all running cults: Marathon, Greece.
Encouraged by a post on activenaturists.net I decided to give it a go. The article suggests that nudity is tolerated at the beach at Shinias despite it being not an officially sanctioned naturist beach (there are a few official nude beaches near Athens, but all are rocky or with stretches of sand which hardly reach 100m – not particularly suitable for a naked run!). I wish I could say this experience was an Olympic success…
At the end of the one hour drive from central Athens, I parked the car adjacent to the access point. I was quite nervous; I knew this wasn’t a naturist beach and there were a few cars and a few people (I had hoped for Portugal-style emptiness on this winter January weekday afternoon). I stripped off at the car and ran straight out onto the beach…
Surprise! There were more people than I had expected. A man walking along the water. Someone swimming. A couple in lounge chairs up ahead.
How a culture reacts, I decided that afternoon, to a harmless totally naked man running past would be a great judge of national character. The English would look away, embarrassed, tut under their breath, then grab their mobile phone and ring the police. The Portuguese would avert their eyes and walk on. The Spanish – depending on their age – would try to ignore or join in, as appropriate. The French would have a laugh and joke about the guy being German…
In the end, the Greeks on the beach that day took it upon themselves to bring down the wrath of their God on me. They started shouting, waving their arms. Making all sorts of fuss. Well, that didn’t start until after stunned silence, actually. As I passed the couple in lounge chairs, for example, they stared in disbelieve and only when I passed them and they were out of my direct view, that’s when they started shouting abuse (behind my back: courageous!). I don’t speak Greek. I couldn’t understand a word. But I understood everything they meant. And it wasn’t have a nice day. It was aggressive and loud and abusive.
As I ran down the beach, distancing myself from them, they quieted down. Unfortunately I noticed more people up ahead who were very likely to react the same way. And I was getting further and further from the safety of my hire car (and my passport and clothing). If someone called the police I would be trapped.
I’m not an exhibitionist. I don’t run naked to shock other people. I run naked because of how it makes me feel inside. I understand that not everyone wants to see me naked, but as a part-time naturist I believe that their discomfort is mostly due to their own anxieties; I am doing no harm.
I run to feel a masculine fire in my abdomen that I had never experienced before. It is magical. I call it the orgasm for the psyche. It is the only feeling I’ve ever had in my life that I want more of, like a drug. I now have a hobby of naked running as a result. And I started this blog. Running down this Grecian beach with people screaming at me… Well, there was no fire. No orgasm. I saw no point in continuing down the beach. So, I turned around to run back to the car.
That’s when it got interesting. As I approached the couple in the lounge chair the man got up. He was topless and obese. He started shouting and walking towards me as I approached them. It was threatening. No longer content to be a coward, he had become the aggressor; my nudity was so threatening to him that he went on the attack. His arms were waving. He was certainly mouthing all sorts of obscenities. At that moment, I really wish I did speak Greek so I could tell him his unhealthy body offended me as much as my nudity offended him!
His rapid movement was so restricted that he was an easy obstacle to avoid. But I wasn’t back at the car yet. Then I encountered the man walking along the beach who had also shouted at me earlier – again behind my back. This time, again as I approached him, like the couple, he started at it again (shouting, waving arms, etc.). But unlike the first guy, he was directly in my path. Again, he was an easy obstacle to avoid and I made it back to the car, jumped into my shorts and sped off. Just in case.
As I drove and my heart rate returned to normal, I reflected on this experience. The shouting behind my back. The men going on the attack (the women didn’t shout; they sat in stunned, perhaps appreciative, silence). The aggression. The waving of the arms making them look bigger and stronger. All classic displays of animalistic masculinity. I was naked on their territory. They felt threatened. They were defending their patch. It wasn’t really about being naked. My nudity simply touched that unconscious trigger that doesn’t get activated under more normal day-to-day circumstances. None of these thoughts compensated for my disappointment, of course.
It was only when I returned to Athens that I wanted to kick myself. I had driven through the most beautiful, deserted countryside around Marathon. If the beach was too populated, I certainly would have found a country track to run naked in peace. But, I had been too disturbed in the moment to think that resourcefully and I do associate naked running with beaches as it permits me to run barefoot. Oh,well, there is always next time!
While I didn’t achieve what I wanted, what I came for – there was no fire in the belly; no orgasm of the psyche – I did actually run naked on the beach at Marathon, Greece for 4 minutes and 12 seconds for 690 metres. And that still counts!
NB: given the nature of this run, I was unable to document it with photography. The header photography is borrowed from the internet.
Naked Run Facts
Date: 14 January 2016
Location: Shinias Beach, Attica, Greece
Time of Day: 13:00
Air Temperature: 17c
Conditions: sunny Mediterranean beach with cool breeze on rough sand
Run Length: 690m
Duration: 4 minutes, 12 seconds
Barefoot or Shoes: barefoot
Photo credit: unknown
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