mundane adventures in running
In the states everything happens. It feels like there is a much more diverse, crazy hippy, weird running scene than here in the UK. Here, running is often about performance, fitness or weight-loss. it’s not common to find people who are running for more complex cultural or spiritual reasons.
I’ve found a few references to naked races in the states. A diverse running scene is big enough to cope with such eccentricity. It’s a delightful idea, to run naked, an unadorned animal at large in the world. I can see myself running through a midnight forest, howling like a wolf, chased and chasing deer and rabbits, passing them and leaving them in my wake. Not in London. Not in Camberwell. It would be seconds before I was scooped up, sectioned and shipped off to the Maudsley.
A web search revealed my fears: most naked runs are in North America: California (natch), Portland, a few in Canada.
The UK seems to have… one. One naked race: the Naturist Foundation 5k. Naturism strikes me as different to just being naked: naturism sounds like a philosophy, or a political movement. While I like being naked, and have no shame / problem with nudity, it’s not something that feels like a coherent ideology. It’s just getting naked. Naturism in the UK is an organisation, with rules and committes. It’s antithetical to the ideas of freedom, simplicity and raw animal nature I want to embrace in naked running. I imagine the Naturist Foundation drinking tea in Nissen huts whilst doing the Telegraph cryptic crossword, not howling, smeared in woad across mountains and valleys.
Still, it’s a naked race, it’s an hour train journey from my house, it’s the Sunday after my birthday. It will be at best wonderful and liberating, but way more likely just very weird and very funny.
I am totally signed up and ready to go. The course record is 17 minutes, which I’ve never run before, but I don’t think is beyond my ability. I think I get to choose whether to wear shoes while i do it, and get a good time, or go barefoot and properly embrace the spirit of nudity.
I will not be posting pictures of my race day outfit.