Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Running with Little Wind Resistance


Odd woman out in group of buff runners
Myla Barnhardt - News-Record.com
August 7, 2005

REIDSVILLE, N.C. — I didn’t just step out of my comfort zone — I leaped.You see, it was my first race, a 5K run.And it was my first trip to a nudist resort.The day dawned overcast and foggy. Fog is good. Fog is my friend, I told myself as I drove nervously through the thick, soupy mix.Unfortunately, it lifted just about the time I pulled off U.S. 158 and started down the gravel road toward the Bar-S-Ranch.

Now, don’t tell me you haven’t driven by the Bar-S and wondered what goes on beyond the tree line.On July 30, I wanted to find out.That’s when I showed up early in the morning for the fifth annual “Take Pride in Your Hide 5K Run/Walk,” a clothing-optional race at the nudist resort southwest of Reidsville. About 200 of us signed up to run.Of course, I didn’t head off to the Bar-S without some advice — and one very big question from friends.As for the advice, Dot Jackson of Eden suggested sunglasses, preferably mirrored lenses so no one can tell where you’re looking. My friend Claudine Burleson of Eden, a veteran marathon runner, told me to keep my eyes on the trail. I don’t know where she thought I’d be looking.But mostly they wanted to know what women always want to know — and what you are probably wondering, too:What was I going to wear? Or in this case, not wear?After winding down a gravel road, I was met at the gate by a woman wearing a race T-shirt. I was relieved. And then I noticed that she was wearing only a race T-shirt, a very short one. After checking my name off her list of runners, she waved me through the gate.From then on, most of the people I passed were wearing only smiles. At least they were friendly.I drove past tiny houses — weathered-in campsites, they are officially called, said Ellis Stewart, who owns the Bar-S with his wife, Wanda.“They can talk about their rivers, but as far as I know, we’re probably the biggest tourist attraction in Rockingham County,” he said.The huts are about 300 square feet in size, Stewart said. One was all glass. Go figure.There also are campsites, a clubhouse, a nine-hole golf course, a pool and a seven-acre lake.Gary, the race organizer, assured me that I’d get over the shock of seeing naked people after a few minutes. Well, the shock didn’t wear off, but I became very adept at making eye contact.It was a sea of bodies: young ones, old ones, all races, all sizes — even one who was eight months pregnant.But if I was squeamish, the people who were milling about and tying on their race numbers (no pins for this group) set me at ease. They chatted, laughed and most were more than willing to share their stories, as long as I didn’t use their last names.“I train women in empowerment groups, and I always encourage them to get out of the box,” said Paula from Greensboro. “Anytime you stretch your limits, you boost your confidence and you learn something new about yourself.”

Dave, 58, from Salisbury received a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2003. “This was my present to me for surviving another year,” he said.I asked Fran, 53, from Southern Virginia about her nudity.“I was born like this,” she quipped.I met Janice in the bathroom line. How do you strike up a conversation with a naked stranger? I admired her tattoo. She offered me one.The 43-year-old Raleigh woman had come with friends, and they were all sporting temporary tattoos on their … ummm… backsides. She rubbed one on my thigh and welcomed me into the sisterhood.But mostly, I was hearing horror stories about the trail we were going to run.When a man handed me a paper cup filled with some reddish-colored liquid and told me I’d need the energy, I gulped it down. Oh no, I thought. I’d just done something I’d warned my college-age daughter never to do — accept a drink from a stranger (and a naked one, at that).What if it had something in it? Something that would take away my inhibitions, the last thing I wanted to lose at a nudist resort. Maybe I should try to gag myself, I thought.But there was no time. The race was starting. I hovered near the back, away from the mass of bodies. I had no desire to be trampled by some six-minute milers or, even worse, caught in the crush of bodies vying for a spot out front.No, the back was fine.It was tough. There were hills. No, make that mountains.Terrain! I’m talking about the terrain.The 3.1-mile course of treacherous, gooey red mud, tree roots and slippery descents is a series of trails within the resort, each named after women — masochists, if you ask me.I slipped once, muddied my knee, but quickly scrambled to my feet before someone helped me up.Janice “streaked” past me.“You go, girl,” she shouted.I ran with Louie for a while. Like many I spoke with, the middle-aged man from Greensboro is a professional, a member of mainstream society. Most of the runners were not members of the Bar-S. Like Malcolm of Raleigh, they come one time a year, for the run, and they do it for the novelty.

As we ran by the lake, a Monroeton fireman gave us a welcomed dousing with the fire hose. That’s dedication for you. And on a Saturday. What a guy! But then again, the proceeds from the entry fees are donated to the volunteer fire department.On the final stretch, there was Janice. She had already crossed the finish line, but she joined me for my sprint to the end.The clock showed 41 minutes and 58 seconds — a dismal 24 minutes behind the top female finisher, a 20-something brunette from Raleigh, who came in right behind her boyfriend, who won the race.I have no proof, but it’s my theory that naked people run faster than clothed ones. Hey, clothes are heavy!But who cared about winning? I was done. I had run the race. I had my column. On my way out, one of the race officials stopped me. I’d placed third in my age group, she said. I needed to stick around to pick up my medal. When I walked off the clubhouse stage, a chorus of “My-la, My-la” began in one corner of the room.I’m pretty sure Janice started it. And Paula was right. I felt empowered.After all, it takes some guts to show up at a nudist resort — even if I ran the race in a T-shirt and a pair of Wal-Mart running shorts. Yes, I wore clothes, and no one was impressed that they were made from a “breathable fabric.”A week has passed since the event. I did get a phone call from a rather panicked man who was worried that a photo of him might show up in my story. It seems his wife knew that he was off at a run, she just didn’t know he was doing it naked.As for me, my muscles aren’t aching anymore, but I have been troubled by a re-occurring dream.

Not the usual one, in which I’m pushing my shopping cart through frozen foods when I glance down and discover I’m not wearing any clothes.No, in this dream, I’m at the Bar-S Ranch … and I’m the only one fully clothed.

Source: http://www.news-record.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050807/NEWSREC0101/50808008/1001/NEWSREC0201

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