Race report by Susannah Grosso

“No it doesn’t hurt. It’s natural,” gleefully retort Gary and Sue Butts, directors of the North Carolina-based B.A.R.E. Butts A’runnin Race Enterprise heading this past weekend’s clothing-optional Ruff Buff 7K pitted in the outskirts of the Pocono mountains at the Sunny Rest “naturist” resort.

Within the expansive 190-acre plot of land lies miles of trails, of moderate uphill and downhill terrain, befitting for a small 4.3 mile race where the “clothing-optional” decree is largely ignored by participants, volunteers, coordinators, the race directors, and those who live or vacation on the nudist resort.

After the initial shock dissipates, one is quickly ensconced within an environment where baring it all exists not for the purposes of recreation or shock value but is actually a revered way of life. People go about their day-to-day activities in the nude – sunbathing, dining, driving, dancing, sports-playing, you name it –  so it’s no surprise to stumble upon the “CLOTHING NOT PERMITTED” sign posted at the entrance of the pool/hot tub area.

Since I’m not quite an acolyte of the nudist philosophy, I opted to run with a sports bra and boyshorts (yet I still can’t figure out how running topless as a female doesn’t induce a fair amount of pain that necessitates incapacitation of some sort, but you’d be amazed to hear how “comfortable” the experience is to those who run au naturel). With only about 40 or so people participating in the race (most, like me, were same-day registrants), the halcyon atmosphere was by all means congenial.

I managed to keep a steady pace for the duration of the race and was slated to take 4th place overall up until 100 or so yards to the finish when I was sidelined by a 40-something streaker and unknowingly capitulated myself to a full-out sprint (feel free to ask Susan who bore witness to this) . My final finish time was, I believe, 30:58, and I was first female (5th overall). I learned soon after I finished that my name is apparently well known within the Butts community. The Great One overheard Gary Butts (who held onto his microphone for dear life before, during and well after the race) remark in his North Carolinian drawl, “I’ll tell you what, we’ve got ourselves a real foot race here today. We have a female here today who will be in the top ten. I bet she’ll be running under an eight-minute mile!”

Here are a few highlights The Great One, who tagged along and fulfilled, perhaps exceeded her role as spectator, and I remembered from the race:  Being greeted by a nude yet sneaker-wearing Gary Butts and directed where to park; driving through the resort that at times radiated a feeling of suburbia, only to turn one corner and catch sight of a naked guy mowing his lawn and turning the next to see yet another naked septuagenarian breezing by in a golf cart; attending the post-race awards ceremony amongst a hoard of still-naked runners where prizes such as cookies, t-shirts, hats, book covers, a bottle of wine from a naked winery were randomly thrown up into the air for all nudists to run for and grab; watching Sue Butts REMOVE her clothes for the commemorative group photo in which Susannah was the only one clothed; sitting in the resort’s restaurant adorned with a wall-sized glass window that had us looking out to the naked-only pool area replete with a bar aptly named “Streakers”; and finally wondering why climate has NO bearing on why one should be nude (I mean does one really have to be naked and sunbathing in 60 degree weather?!).

Because cameras were forbidden, Susan was only able to take 2 pictures for your enjoyment.

Susannah Grosso and Mike “Savage Man” Kizis