What It’s Like To Race in the Bare Burro 5K Nude Run
The 7th annual Bare Burro 5K Nude Run will take place on April 10, 2016 at Olive Dell Nudist Ranch in Colton, California. From the event press release: “The Bare Burro run was started in 2008 and is now established as the premier nude running event in Southern California. More than 200 runners competed in 2015, running a challenging 5K course though the hills and hiking trails of the rustic Olive Dell Ranch, where the wild burros usually visible from the course inspired the punning name of the race.”
Below is a guest blog about what it’s like to run in the Bare Burro. Whether you’re an experienced nudie runner or new to naturism, this should be a fun spring event for those in SoCal! There is a discounted registration fee until April 1 and participation is limited to 300 people, so learn more and register now at www.olivedellranch.com.
Guest Blog by: Carlo Panno
It’s always easy to spot the newbies.
It’s too chilly for nudity when the gates open for the Bare Burro 5K Run, the annual spring-kickoff nude 5K race at Olive Dell Nudist Ranch in Southern California, so everyone — from veteran nudists to first-time newbies — is braced against the early morning coolness in sweatsuits and running pants. People mill around, nervously making small talk with the friends they came with, pointedly making eye contact and furtively looking around to see if anybody has broken the clothing barrier.
By about 9, the sun has broken through the morning fog, the chill in the air has dissipated, and the clothes begin to disappear. Not that people strip down in public: They slip away, go to their cars, ditch their clothes, and come back nude expect for running shoes. Now outnumbered, the clothed holdouts feel conspicuous and do the same, returning with a towel self-consciously draped over their shoulders or casually held just so at waist level. Before long, the acceptance sinks in: I’m naked, and so is everybody else, and it’s okay. I’m gonna use this towel to sit on.
The Bare Burro 5K takes place on a challenging course up and down the hills of Olive Dell Nudist Ranch on the gravel fire roads, dirt paths — and the occasional paved roadway — of the rustic nudist resort. The challenge of the run is compounded by the fact that nudity is required for the runners, placing them in a social-nudity situation they may have never encountered before. Runners’ numbers are painted on their arms, leading to odd numerical tan lines later.
A system is in place at the poolside clubhouse to check in the participants: Line up here, get your name checked off the list, get your number painted over there, the map of the route is on the wall, any questions? Put your clothes in your car, we have a car key check on the patio by the pool. Volunteers answer questions (“This is the exit, enter the building around the corner.”) and caution people not to photograph strangers in their pre-race selfies.
At about 10:00, the volunteers head to their stations along the course. The route loops back on itself and crosses itself, so water stations correspond with tricky turns so volunteers can yell “Follow the red arrow!” between passing out cups of water. A first aid volunteer is ready with a cell phone to go to any runner’s aid. The communal pump-topped gallon bottle of sunscreen (provided by race sponsor Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen) is a focal point for the runners on the patio, who trade advice (“Take it easy up the hill to the water tower”) and encourage each other.
At 10:15, the runners head to the starting line, led by the head timer, compressed airhorn in hand. The narrow roadway fills with naked runners, stretching, running in place, mentally recalibrating how much personal space is required when nobody is wearing any clothing. The earlier awkwardness is replaced with a defiant camaraderie: We’re naked and we’re gonna run a 5K! You got a problem with that?
The starter gives a quick pep talk: This course is tough, with uphill sections. Watch your footing on the gravel. Keep your eye out for people who have stumbled. If you need help ask at a water station, we have cell phones and can get first aid to you. Stay hydrated. Follow the red arrows on the first half, then the blue arrows. Have a good race.
The serious runners casually drift to the front of the pack. The fun-runners stay put, this is a casual thing for them, let the competitors take the edge, good for them. Let them find the red arrows first.
As the time counts down to 10:30, the chatter stops. The air becomes quiet, expectant. The runners are ready. We’re going to Do This. The head timer has mounted a small stepladder, giving him added visibility to the pack. With eyes locked on his wristwatch, he raises the airhorn high and…
SQUAWWWWWK! They’re off.
The intense quiet of 250 runners all holding their breath is replaced by the organic quiet of the placid country lane with six race volunteers preparing the finish line. Orange traffic cones and bright pink tape are arranged to define three finishing lanes. The first runners cross the finish line in 20 minutes, running hard and fast, having saved their energy for a sprint to the finish, raising their arms in victory. The serious runners (“What’s my time?”) are joined by the casual runners at the 40-minute mark: sweaty, dragging, exhausted, but exhilarated at finishing. A volunteer gets stationed at the last turn to encourage the runners: “The race ends at the orange cones!” Bottles of water are handed out to the runners as their friends congratulate them with high fives and smiles.
After the race, runners and their friends collect at the pool, telling their stories about the run, their numbers fading after reapplication of sunscreen, waiting for the announcement of the winners. The ice long since broken, naked strangers chat while waiting in line at the refreshment station and snack bar, trading race times and vowing to do better next time.
The winners are announced at a casual ceremony, with Olive Dell owner Becki announcing the first, second and third place winners for the entire race and individual winners in the age brackets. After thanking everybody for coming and inviting them to enjoy the pool, hot tub, sun deck and the rest of the Olive Dell facilities for the rest of the day, she announces the date for next year’s run.
And the countdown begins again.
About the Author: Carlo Panno has been an active naturist since his college days with au Naturèl, one of the first college-sanctioned naturist groups, centered at Cal State Northridge. He spent five years on the research staff of “Jeopardy!” and is now a freelance writer for news and information websites.