What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I've always enjoy participating in races, but for the longest time I hated running a regular, no-frills 5K. I needed it to have a theme, an obstacle course, or something that made it more exciting than just running three miles down the street.
Knowing this, my friend texted me one day to inform me that she thought it would be fun to run in a "clothing optional" race. I agreed, since it fit my race criteria, but didn't think we'd ever come across an opportunity to really run naked. Little did I know that when I responded, "Yeah, that sounds fun. I would do it," she already had one in mind. The next thing I knew I was registering for a clothing-optional 7K trail run about an hour away from my house.
I wasn't a seasoned runner but had done several 5K's and figured I could walk part of the way, if necessary. After all, it was only a little over four miles in the woods. My biggest debate was if I should run the race with or without clothes, but when my friend settled on running with her clothes on, I decided I would as well.
On the day of the race, we drove through a residential area where the amount of houses slowly started to dwindle as we turned into the nudist resort. Making our way through the resort grounds, we could see rustic little cabins and a lot of naked people hanging out by their windows, enjoying their morning cup of coffee.
"Penis!!!" I exclaimed, like it was my first time seeing one.
We parked and walked to the registration desk in our clothes. The majority of people who were in line with us were in various states of dress. Once we went to get our bibs and shirt, people began to strip. Participants wrote their bib numbers on their bodies with a Sharpie since they (obviously) wouldn't be able to pin them anywhere. My friend and I decided we still wanted to do this with clothes on, but we took off our shirts so we could run in our sports bras and shorts. At this point, we were too chicken to be nudist badasses just yet.
Eventually, we all began to find our way to the starting line. I was surprised to see the mix of people that came out and their various states of full, almost, or total lack of nudity. (The race advertises itself as having the option to run in anything from a snowsuit to your birthday suit.) In the end, more than 150 people participated, with the event organizers estimating that about 75 percent of participants were nude.
They sounded the horn and off we went! It started on the road, and we managed a slow jog as the more experienced runners bounced their butts, already far ahead. From the athletic types to people who just wanted to experience the fun, everyone was in good spirits as we navigated the course. After a couple of turns on the road, we fell toward the back of the pack, entered the wooded trail, and started to walk. We were walking behind a naked man, following the trail arrows, when he stopped short in front of us, turned around, and pointed up a hill. We assumed he must have needed a break and wanted to sit down but didn't want us following him to get off course. We walked for a while, without seeing or hearing anyone. We were slowly making our way down the hill when it sounded like a stampede was coming behind us. We quickly turned around only to witness a swarm of nude people charging at us. We questioned if we were being lapped, as butt after butt passed us by, only to realize the man at the bottom of the hill must have felt bad we were near the end and wanted to provide us with a shortcut. We finished the race back on the road as the resort residents came out to cheer us on from the sidelines. Once we went to get our finishing times though, it was discovered that, to put it bluntly, we had taken a shortcut and we were disqualified.
The award ceremony took place in the resort's pool area. My friend and I decided we to spend the day hanging out. We went up to the bar still clothed and actually began to feel awkward. Everyone around us was nude; we stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs. Plus, we wanted to use the pool which was the one place nudity was required. So we grabbed our beers, went back to our chairs, and worked up the nerve to undress. At first, it was nerve-wracking, but after the initial scare, we didn't even care. Even though I felt like everyone was staring as we shed our clothes, after a quick glance around the pool area, I realized not a single person was staring at us or judging us as we embraced this newfound freedom. It almost felt like they were applauding us for finding the courage to strip.
It was a surreal feeling being there. Here were regular people, doing regular activities, completely nude. They were chatting, lounging, reading, swimming, playing volleyball, doing yoga, hanging out at the bar, and I was loving all of it. (Did I stare at people's junk? Hell yeah I did! I couldn't help it.) It was just a community of friends hanging out together and I can't even begin to say how unbelievably nice everyone was. I didn't really know what I expected them to be like, but I guess I thought it would be similar to going to the beach or a resort, where everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. Here, you walk up to the bar and you're chatting with a stranger for 20 minutes, then you go back to your chair and strike up a conversation with the woman tanning next to you. They tried to make both my friend and me feel as welcome as possible, whether we had clothes on or not.
It was such an incredibly freeing experience, and I was able to step out of my normal comfort zone without any judgment. It was definitely comforting knowing this was a clothing-optional resort, so I was able to strip down at my own pace. Thankfully, since it was hot and I wanted to spend time in the pool, getting nude in front of a ton of strangers was much easier than I expected.
Since we spent the whole afternoon without clothes on, it almost felt strange to pack up and get dressed. It seemed like second nature already to see everyone's boobs and penises, and stopping at a restaurant later with everyone clothed just didn't seem right.
You quickly learn, being in this type of environment, that nudity is just a state of mind. When I was naked, I never actually felt naked. There are so many misconceptions about what a nudist resort is, and I believed a lot of them before I went in. I'm glad I didn't and actually got to do something most people are afraid to try. It truly made me love my body without feeling like I was being body-shamed. It was liberating.
I had such an unexpected blast at the resort that I'm planning on running it again this year. And, yes, I intend to do so nude.