Our disclaimer bears repeating for this one: As the infamous Antoine Dodson says, “Hide your kids, hide your wife!” This post is not suitable for children, bible-thumpers, and socially constipated Christian right-wing Republicans… That’s right, this weekend, VANdal headed to a national (did we mention nude?) 5K championship: the 5th Annual Caliente Bare Dare at Caliente’s clothing-optional resort in Land O’ Lakes, Florida.
You may be asking yourselves, “When did Martin & Bethany go off the deep end?” or maybe…. “Who in the hell wants to see all those jiggly bits as hundreds of runners sprint their butts off… literally?”
Part of the challenge we have set out for ourselves is to push our personal, intellectual, and physical boundaries. No, we’re not planning to join the colony. No, we’re not crazy. Living VANdal means stepping out of our comfort zone to live adventures of all kinds. Occasionally, that means stepping into something, shall we say, a little less comfortable?
The seedlings of this adventure were rather innocent and humble, actually. In the planning stages for the 5th Annual Caliente Bare Dare, our good friend Pete Williams, a tremendous author, athlete, and marketeur, knew he’d need more help staging such a big national event. Knowing we have a lot of other race experience under our belts, he asked if we’d be willing to volunteer & receive free registrations to help set up at his next race….. Which, he strategically mentioned in as casual a way as possible… was clothing-optional.
With winning 5K race times for men at 15:49 and 19:25 for women, the Caliente Bare Dare attracts top runners from an average of 14 states, over 80% of whom actually dare to bare it all. This year’s race numbers, topping out at over 400 participants, earned bragging rights as the Guinness Book of World Records largest nude running event… EVER.
At first, we laughed. Then we considered it. Not believing Martin would actually go for it, Bethany said she was up for the challenge… And then spent the next six weeks backpedaling as the terror over running in her birthday suit set in.
Caliente’s clothing-optional resort is a close cousin to similar resorts you may find in the Caribbean. As the most upscale clothing-optional resort in North America, it has quite an array of amenities and activities. People do and behave in every way you’d expect them to at a high end resort with the only exception being the lack of clothing.
Throw stereotypes and fears out the window – It wasn’t weird, uncomfortable, or provocative. In fact, we found the entire experience to be remarkably respectful. Rumor has it that the late night mood becomes much more erotic, but we would never know since we were long asleep in VANdal so we could help out at the race before sunrise.
The Bare Dare course took us around lakes and through the beautifully manicured Caliente neighborhoods. At first it was a little disconcerting to line up with 400 naked people who are all jumping, stretching, and doing their pre-race warm up rituals — Yikes! That’s a lot of moving parts!
But when the gun went off it was like any other race. Within minutes, it was easy to forget we weren’t wearing any clothes and focused only on the task at hand. And with the level of competition, it was clear no one was there to stare. No matter what shape or size you were, it didn’t matter one bit that parts were jiggling. You just didn’t notice it at all. The entire spectrum of the human form was represented; however, the forms tended to become much more ample as the finish clock added minutes.
We both finished strong – Martin placed 27th out of 280, and Bethany 17th out of 112. Bethany’s time earned a top 20 finisher prize — a sweet little bottle of Malbec! And don’t worry, miss Katie-Lou bared it all, too, sans her well-known service dog vest :).
There are some nuggets of wisdom we took from this experience that truly lend credence to our belief that less is, in fact, more.
1. To run naked is by far more comfortable, cooler, and more efficient. When you dump water over your head you’re immediately cooled off but without the unpleasant enduring effect of soggy, damp clothes. In fact, it was so much more enjoyable than running in clothes, don’t be offended if we grace your local running trail in the buff. (Kidding, of course. We promise to only run naked when sanctioned and not illegal).
2. Contrary to popular belief, running naked means less chafe. Turns out chafing comes from clothing, not skin. Lesson learned!
3. Surrounded by people of literally ALL body shapes and sizes, Bethany learned that a little self-love can go a long way. Though impossible to cure a lifetime of body image issues in just a day, this experience teaches us to be less hard on ourselves and to love moving in the body we have. (Note: Bethany also learned Martin could care less).
4. On a sillier note…. We learned a LOT about various personal grooming habits ranging from NONE to all, and from complex topiaries to Bozo the clown and everything in between.
5. There is never any need for vajewels. (Vaginal jewelry for the layperson). Never. Period.
6. The opportunity to bare it all gives us a great excuse to let our guard down every once in a while. We were pleasantly surprised that the race (and the resort) attracted a very “normal” cross-section of people. That said… As normal and non offensive as the whole experience was, the only creepy moment came within seconds of entering the high security gate when we spotted an old van with a logo advertising Charlie & His Little Willie Puppet…… Like the immature and giggle-prone dorks we are, we were at once both laughing hysterically & terrified for what our weekend might entail. Luckily, it turned out we had nothing to fear.
7. Being nude DRAMATICALLY improves the quality of a conversation. Never once did we see people staring, ogling, drooling, or making fun of someone. And, there’s a noticeable improvement in one’s ability to make eye contact during a conversation. (My eyes are up here!) No more nightmares of being in front of the class naked to give a speech.
8. Less clothing = less judgment. Turns out nakedness is a great equalizer.
9. It’s a major luxury to get out of a pool with no wet swimsuit, just drying off the way nature intended :).
10. NO MUFFIN-TOP! Enough said :).
If you want to push YOUR personal envelope and step out of your comfort zone, come Streak the Cove on September 28! And….coming soon! Nude SUP Racing!
- Register for the 2016 Caliente Bare Dare