Monday, July 11, 2005

Bare Buns West a Success

Fraternity Snoqualmie is quite a nice place and certainly not what I had envisioned in my mind as to what the place looked like. Today was my first visit there . . . though I've had plenty of opportunities to visit in the past as a member of the SLUGS. For some inane reason I expected FS to be up in the Snoqualmie Pass area when in reality it is on the side of Tiger Mountain not far from Issaquah.

I've never run a marathon before let alone a nude marathon. Bare Buns West 2005 was my first and I thank FS for hosting this event. The run was 5K (3 miles) up Tiger Mountain and back down again. When I arrived I was surprised at the number of people already there. The tent and RV areas appeared pretty much full and the grounds were full of clothed and unclothed people. But what particularly struck me was the number of younger people up there enjoying the opportunity to be textile-free. It is not something you see often at nudist resorts and I'm happy to see that attempts are being made to attract the younger generations.

Some one hundred and fifty registered to run the marathon. I was one . . . goaded into it by a fellow SLUG who said 'only a few will actually run it . . . most will just walk up and then run down.' I figured, what the heck, I like to hike nude . . . this will be like a hike. So I signed up . . . I think mainly to get the teeshirt. Did the stretching, avoided stuffing my stomach with food and milled around waiting the start of the race. The official marathon certification people and the EMS paramedics on hand should have clued me in.

The race started and off we went. Like everyone else, I started jogging but the course soon turned up a steepening gravel road and my lungs began protesting. Soon I was down to a fast stroll and the ranks started stretching out. The road became muddy and tricky on the footing but hey, I was starting to get into this. Water tables, a quick gulp without stopping and . . .dang . . . the leaders are practically flying back down on the reverse leg . . . and my friend says snidely that we're almost halfway to the top. Only halfway and runners are already racing down on the return leg?

A kid passes me . . . a pregnant woman. Now it's personal . . . I can't be this badly out of shape! I start jogging again. The second water table and around a bend to the turnaround cone and no one is checking tags as I think to myself I could have cheated and turned around anytime. I round the cone in a breathless jog and start downhill. I have my second-wind and a pace that works. Past the water table and pick up the pace. I'm enjoying the run now, feeling good.

Running downhill has it's own hazards. For one, a certain unrestrained part of the anatomy sets up a harmonic swinging which is a little distracting. Now I know why women joggers wear sport's bars. Also, it's rough on the knees, the jarring to check your speed . . . or if you get going too fast you risk losing control on the uneven surface. How the barefooters did it still eludes me. About halfway back down, finishing place doesn't matter anymore . . . it's the running because I'm really enjoying the sweat and wind and the shear pleasure of doing this naked among so many other people. I imagine myself some Greek Olympian. It brings a smile to my face. The leaders coming back down earlier looked like magnificent atheletes (and they were, I found out later).

We round the bottom of the road and head up toward the finish line and the cheers of several hundred spectators . . . a gaunlet and I realize everyone is looking at us, urging us to pour the speed on.

A young boy is just in front of me. I pull up close and am about to pass him when I check myself and let the boy finish just in front of me. Why? Who knows. Place was not important. I just let the kid beat me, gesturing at the backwards-looking boy and shouting at him, "go ahead . . . go!"

Cool down and I'm surprised I still have the ability to walk. Now I know why people run marathons. I feel really alive. Water at the post-race exit . . . energy bars and a bowl of bananas which I finally figured out is an easy way to replace electrolytes (potassium). I watch and cheer a few other finishers and then head for the pool after a quick shower. The rest of the afternoon was spent either chatting away with perfect strangers in the two large hot tubs or enjoying that ever so sensuous feeling of swimming free and nude. I get bopped on the head by a sopping wet beansack and get involved in a game of toss with a family. Everything so normal and fun. Like I said earlier, the majority of the people at FS for the race were not affiliated with any club but they felt absolutely comfortable, male and female alike, with their nudity. I find that a good sign.

Out of the one hundred and fifty or so I finished at 103. Not spectacular but good enough for me. I have long-term stamina for backpacking but not the sustained energy burst of a marathon runner. I'm happy and can now work on improving that. I plan on trying Bare Buns at Kaniksu and Wreck Beach later in the season.

But more importantly, I liked the number of younger people who participated in the nude. Nudism and naturalism is still alive. Resorts would do well to stage similar activities. These are the future members that we sorely need.

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