"Let me tell you, a nude wedding is one of the nicest things you can have in the world because you don't have to worry about wedding dresses or bridesmaid dresses or tuxedos!" Dave Smith says with a laugh. "But there's a lot of things that people don't understand about nudists. We're not crazy. If it's cold, you put on clothes!"
Smith serves as the president of the Northwest Region of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), overseeing nudist resorts in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. He is also a member of and former director of Kaniksu Ranch in Loon Lake, Washington, which has organized the Bare Buns Fun Run every year since 1984 (save one when the course was closed for some logging).
The Bare Buns Fun Run is a clothing-optional 5K race open to anyone, whether they are members of Kaniksu or not, who might be looking to experience the nudist way of life firsthand.
There are plenty of misconceptions about nudism — sometimes called naturism. But Smith maintains that the atmosphere at Kaniksu Ranch is a family-oriented one where lifelong memories are made.
Also, Smith hopes that the run will provide visitors with what has kept Smith returning to the run every year since 1988: a reprieve from the labels of the "clothed" world.
"It provides a relaxed and accepting atmosphere for everyone. No matter who you are. We aren't a group of Adonis-sculpted individuals," Smith says. "We are people who are overweight and underweight, people who have had heart surgery or mastectomies or who wear colostomy bags. Everything is acceptable. We don't care if people are married or single or gay or straight. We accept everybody for who they are without what they wear in terms of clothes or what they wear in terms of labels."
Normally, Kaniksu Ranch is not clothing-optional as members are expected to strip down fully when they enter. But during the Fun Run guests are allowed to dress up or down, however they feel most comfortable.
However, 10-time nude finisher Brendan (who preferred to not share his last name) thinks that once you are at the ranch, even the most shy guests might be interested in trying the run in the buff.
"I didn't have any experience with nudism before my first run so when I first got there I was definitely a little shocked. But after a half-hour at the ranch you totally forget that you're naked and forget that other people are naked," Brendan says, "Then it becomes a thing where you notice when someone is wearing clothes more than anything, and you kind of feel like they're the outsider."
Brendan is Grand Poobah of Spokane's Flying Irish Running Club and has run in every Bare Buns Fun Run since 2008. Flying Irish is one of the biggest teams that do the run every year, with 50 of its members attending last year, when they won their fifth team trophy.
One tricky aspect of the run itself is the logistics of running a 5K in the nude. Women will often wear sports bras for comfort, and there are plenty of sunscreen and water stations throughout the race. There are also police and firefighters on site just in case. But Smith claims that in some ways running in the nude, wearing only shoes, can be more comfortable than clothed races.
"What most men have found is that it's more comfortable to run nude. I've run the Bloomsday run 18 times, but when you run with clothes you have to deal with chafing," Smith says. "They have chafing stations at Bloomsday, that doesn't happen when you don't have clothes rubbing against your skin."
Unfortunately, Brendan hasn't found that to be the case exactly.
"Yeah I use a lot of body glide which helps with the chafing," Brendan says. "And at first you definitely feel different running because you're like 'Whoa, what's that hitting against my leg?' But then after maybe a half-mile you basically forget about it, that you're nude, and it's just a normal 5K." ♦
Bare Buns Fun Run • Sun, July 29 at 9:30 am • $30 to race, free to watch • All ages • Kaniksu Ranch • 4295 N Deer Lake Rd., Loon Lake, Washington • kaniksufamily.com
IF YOU GO
Both Smith and Brendan recommend camping at Kaniksu the night before to get comfortable with nudity and to eliminate the drive the morning of the race. While you must register for a campsite and to run, race day is an open house. Everyone is free to explore the ranch, enjoy music and events, and watch the run. There is a full security team present. The top three finishers in each age range recieve a medal, and every runner who finishes the race wearing nothing but shoes/socks receives the coveted "nude finisher" shirt.