mundane adventures in running
I’m surprised I ended up doing this again. Not that my first experience of the BNF 5k wasn’t a good one, I did enjoy it (more here), I just thought it was the kind of thing you wanted to experience once, but that didn’t warrant a second go. But it didn’t work out like that. My friend and neighbour Andrew read my blog post, and as a runner with a naturalist streak (which would be a streaking streak I guess), wanted to have a go. I loosely suggested I might join him, but was deliberately, then found out he’d registered and felt obliged to enter. I’m glad I did.
Second time round, I didn’t feel nearly as nervous as the first. a nuclear powered super strong coffee before we attempted to get the train only gave me the faintest raised heart beat and anxious palpations. The train never came, so we set out in Andrew’s car. It’s only 12 miles or so to Brocken Hurst, but pretty congested. After a relaxed but purposeful drive, we got to the site half way through the course walk round.
This time I didn’t have the luxury of being able to ease myself into nudity. Immediately we were surrounded by a collection of naked, mostly pink, mostly male bodies. At the end of the walk round we had to strip down in seconds, register, and then jog to the start line to join the pack.
There were 100 or so people in the race. This time I noticed two barefoot runners. I’d elected to wear Xeros this time. I wanted to get placed, and figured that a bit of protection might give me more of an edge. I admit I looked at myself in a mirror the night before to see if they gave a palaeolithic wild man edge to my nudity, and was satisfied with the look.
I wasn’t nervous. With a bit of moral support from Andrew and the benefit of experience and knowing what to expect, I didn’t feel jittery. Plus, the speed with which we’d stripped off an readied ourselves meant I hadn’t had a chance to think about what I was doing until the starting pistol went.
This time I felt far stronger. I took it easy to start with, but made sure I was out at front and wouldn’t have to pass too many people. At the end of the first lap I was fifth. Knowing that, and seeing someone ahead of me, who looked like he was going hard was strangely exhilarating, I stepped up the pace. I made sure I didn’t blow up, and kept my stride light and springy. Over the course of about 400m I picked him off. It felt weirdly effortless, and the pace took me on to take third. Eventually, going into the final lap, I saw second place. He was wearing a pair of running shorts and big bouncy trainers, which spurred me on… I could do this naked, in poorly tied huaraches who needs shorts and shoes? As I approached he sped up, and consistently kept ahead of me. I think perhaps I made him overdo it: he blew up and fell back, and I went on to finish without the winner in sight. I think I got smoked.
But… I got second place. My time was 19.31, not quite a pb, but close. It’s fairly silly race, and most people don’t take it that seriously, and it’s a small and very mixed field of competitors, but it still felt good to get second in something: this is the closest I have ever come to winning any sporting event ever.
Andrew came in with a solid sub 30 and aching calves, which is exactly what he had hoped for. We warmed down, failed to eat cake, felt the novelty of all the nudity flagging and headed home.
Thanks Andrew for the moral support and the lift!
Sadly, I only took one photo, a dreadful selfie.