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Kopac's Corner

As Bare As You Dare

by Bob Kopac

"The naked, therefore, who compete / Against the nude may know defeat." -Robert Graves

Joanne Schmidt, the editor of INSIDE TEXAS RUNNING, told me about a foot race called the BARE AS YOU DARE CROSS COUNTRY 5K, which is held the second Saturday of October at the Bluebonnet Resort in Alvord, Texas. Since a nudist colony sponsors the 5K, the title of the race is very appropriate--consider the assonance. The event is part of the Southwest Sunbathing Association Nude Racing Series, which has races at nudist camps in Decatur, Texas; Weatherford, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Austin, Texas.

I wondered if an article about a nudist race might be a ticklish matter and if the article might cross the finish line into bad taste. However, I asked the following questions. Would the article deal with religion? No. Would the article deal with politics? No (dont even THINK about going there!). I was glad to see the article would not be in bad taste.

At first I debated flying down to attend the race for some hands-on experience, but the airline has leather seats, and sitting on leather airline seats in air conditioning while naked seemed somewhat uncomfortable. However, I can imagine what it must be like (the race, not sitting on leather while naked).

1. The first thing that immediately comes to my mind is the race must be extremely painful, both for men and for women. Why, the shin splints alone would be horrendous!

2. Why shin splints? Most likely the participants cannot wear shoes. Otherwise, how could it be called a nudist race?

3. If the race organizers ban shoes, would the winner receive the Abebe Bikila award? Some of you may think that Abebe Bikila is an island in the Pacific Ocean where the United States tested atomic weapons. Actually, Abebe Bikila is the barefoot runner who won the 1960 Olympics marathon in Rome. Was he the forerunner for nude races?

4. If a runner wears a bandanna or sun visor to keep the sweat out of his or her eyes, would that runner be disqualified for not being nude? Probably. However, I figure that wearing a cowboy hat would be acceptable; after all, the race is in Texas.

5. Any man or woman wearing a heart monitor across the chest would be disqualified for not being nude.

6. The race creates an interesting logic conundrum:

A. Americans enter races to get race T-shirts.

B. There would be no race T-shirt, since a T-shirt for a nudist race is contradictory.

C. Therefore, Americans would not enter the race. Q.E.D. Or, is that Q.E. II?

7. In a race at a nudist colony, the winner may not necessarily win by a nose.

8. There would have to be several volunteers handling splits. After all, a nudist wearing a sports watch technically is not nude.

9. Unlike most other races, the race organizers should have no problem getting volunteers. I propose there would be many more volunteers than entrants.

10. However, race organizers would have trouble getting sponsors. For example, in a nudist race, where would you put the Nike logo? Perhaps you could put it on the cowboy hat. Some might say the Nike logo resembles the superior-to-inferior inter-gluteal cleft.

11. The obvious sponsor would be Coppertone but not Jog Bra.

12. How could the evening nudes, I mean, news, report the event? The media could not have nude coverage, for that would be an oxymoron.

13. Now I know what they mean when they say the eyes of Texas are upon you.

14. Race officials would not have to worry about any male runner masquerading as a female runner in a desperate attempt to win a trophy.

15. How would you otherwise distinguish runners, since technically a nudist wearing a race number is not nude? You would have to record all distinguishing characteristics of each runner; for example, cheerfulness, insouciance.

16. However, there may be no distinguishing characteristics if twins or triplets or septuplets run, so lets allow runners to have race numbers. How would you get volunteers to pin the race numbers on the runners? I recommend using Marines.

17. With race numbers and safety pins, the only runners youd get to run the race would be the body-piercing crowd.

18. A person with pierced ears, nose, navel, or tongue could fasten the race number to the existing hole(s) using safety pins. However, a person with a pierced tongue would have to bypass water stops.

19. An alternative method would be to have each runner braid an electronic running chip into his or her hair, except this would discriminate against bald runners.

20. Another method would be to have volunteers body-paint the race numbers on the runners, in which case you would get many more volunteers, and Farrah Fawcett might decide to run the race.

21. The body paint would have to withstand sweat and rain. How, then, does one wash off the number after the race? I envision even more volunteers.

22. If the various nudist colonies could coordinate their races so that each race participant gets a unique race number, each entrant would not have to wash off his or her number. Each runner could use the race number for other races throughout the year. This also would benefit people who have a hard time remembering names. "Look, here comes 99!" Of course, "99" should be reserved for Barbara Feldon.

23. Would the participants run or streak?

Answer: The elite racers would streak, the middle-of-the-pack runners would run, and the slowest participants would jog, bringing up the rear.

24. The race would never be postponed due to rain. Although you would not be allowed to wear protective rain gear, you would be encouraged to let a smile be your umbrella.

25. Certain runners would be disqualified automatically:

25A. Superman for wearing a cape,

25B. The Lone Ranger for wearing a mask, for two reasons:

1) not being nude, and

2) attempting to hide his identity.

25C. Jack Nicholson for wearing sunglasses,

25D. Cher and Dennis Rodman for wearing tattoos,

25E. The Bearded Lady,

25F. The Invisible Man, disqualified either way:

1) for being wrapped in bandages, or

2) for being invisible. How could you tell when he crossed the finish line?

25G. Any runner wearing Breathe Right nose strips.

25H. Any Trekkie in costume.

26. If the race is a sunny point-to-point race running north to south, the runners would end up looking like the two-toned character played by Frank Gorshin in the Star Trek episode "Let That Be Your Final Battlefield."

27. Finally, a nudist runner would have an advantage over a naked runner. Unlike the nude runner, the naked runner would run bent over, covering certain parts of the anatomy with his or her hands. For those of you who think "naked" and "nude" have identical meanings, I recommend you read the poem THE NAKED AND THE NUDE by Robert Graves.

While finishing this article, I surfed the internet and found information about the race. I learned that race participants may wear articles of clothing if they desire. It seems some potential entrants might be embarrassed or have other reasons for not running totally nude. Although usually I am a purist, I say if you want, go ahead, wear a sports watch!