Hell, if you're fast enough, you won't have to see any of 'em running at all.
This Sunday marks the Heartland Naturists' Fourth Annual Sun Run. (This year's theme: "The Race of Apollo.") But despite the slap-happy mental images that naked running might inspire, this race is no joke. The 5-kilometer run takes place on a wooded trail marked by rented cones, commences with the firing of a starting pistol, and includes a water table with Gatorade and plastic cups. Hydration is second only to sun protection, so there will be plenty of sunblock around. Melanoma is a dirty word around these parts -- we don't want these parts getting burned.
The Sun Run is the brainchild of Doug, a dedicated nudist and member of the Heartland Naturists of Kansas City. (Because this brand of recreation has its detractors, names have been abbreviated to protect the nude.)
"The Midwest doesn't have the natural amenities of the beachfront like the West or East Coasts are blessed with, so I came up with the Sun Run to meet the outdoor needs of the naturists in our area," he says. He's even had special medals made as prizes, along with Heartland Naturist T-shirts and towels. Even nudists like a free T-shirt now and again.
Racers have been known to finish with times between 20 minutes and just shy of an hour. But some runners are in it just for the potluck lunch and post-race skinny-dipping. Which is perfectly fine, assures Marge, the president of the Heartland Naturists.
"I have boobs the size of small watermelons," Marge says, "so I don't go jogging -- I go jugging. I help with the potluck, and I get out my calligraphy pen and fill out certificates for the racers, and I give massages to anyone who wants one after the race. I'm busier than five cats in one sandbox as it is."
Last year's event turned out 25 runners. "We had a family come out, and the mom had their little girl. She was 2 or 3, and they walked it together, hand in hand," recalls John, vice president of Heartland Naturists. "It's a form of exercise, and it's more about freedom than anything else. It's about having that opportunity to enjoy the sun and the camaraderie and the adventure."
To avoid voyeurs and hecklers, the group isn't telling nonparticipants the specific location of the race route, other than that it's an area near a lake for that post-race dip. Once they're registered, runners get the race location via supersecret URL. (The last thing a nudist wants is to run from police.)
It's enough to make you wish for a well-placed birthmark that reads "First place, sucka!"