“I’m thinking of doing the Bare Buns Fun Run this year; who’s with me?” The first time I uttered that sentence was after a group run, when the table was on its second round and the event in question was several months away. By the time the date rolled around, three friends were still willing, if not still enthusiastic, to see what happens when you cross runners with nudists.
Kaniksu Ranch Family Nudist Park hunkers in the wooded hills east of Deer Lake. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, campers at Kaniksu and do all the things most people do when they go to a campground: hike, ride bikes, swim, play volleyball, toss horseshoes. But without clothes.
And one morning every July, a few hundred people who normally wear clothes when they run arrive at the campground ready to giggle and jiggle their way down the gravel and dirt road that makes up the out-and-back 5K course while wearing nothing but a race number and a smile.
Your drive to Kaniksu is all jittery anticipation. You park along the steep roads above the campground and make your way down to the packet pickup area, where you experience inner turmoil about being among the still-clothed. For obvious reasons, your race number comes with string rather than pins. Finally, the moment comes when you shrug, chuckle, and then disrobe to the extent that your personal comfort allows.
Think about the jostling and jockeying that occurs in the starting corral of every other race you’ve attended. You experience none of that here. People are hyperaware of their (and others’) personal space. Eye contact is at first a bit awkward, until you realize that there are few other acceptable places to gaze.
Finally, the starting cannon booms, and runners of all shapes, sizes, colors, and tan lines head down the road. The first mile of any run, clothed or not, is often the most challenging, but by the time you pass that road marker, you’ve become surprisingly comfortable not only with your own erratic bouncing but also with everyone else’s.
Most participants run nude (plus running shoes). Others retain some articles of clothing, but even they often take it all off a few yards before crossing the finish line to earn the coveted “nude finisher” T-shirt.
After the race, you might find that you’re not in a huge hurry to put your clothes back on. After all, a pickup volleyball game is about to start.
For more information, visit www.kaniksufamily.com.
This story was originally published in the July 2016 print edition.