In a Bare Pandemic Race, You Can Depart Your Hat On

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In a Naked Pandemic Race, You Can Leave Your Hat On

When I parked near the start of the race, I felt primitive. Some of the runners were in clothes, but most were in a state of undressing. A woman was breastfeeding her child when she checked in. A man waited to wear only sneakers and a Viking helmet – he hung his mask on one of the horns when he was not around other people. I saw my friend who had already moved out. It fit right in. I gave her an elbow bump and took off my shorts. It didn't feel weird at all.

To prepare for the experience, I had tried running completely naked on the treadmill in my basement and found that it was inconvenient for me to get braless. So I took the Donald Duck approach and wore a hat and sports bra but no bottoms. When I checked in, I was given a start number and a T-shirt, but then an employee – naked except for a mask and gloves – wrote my start number with a marker on my leg. Where should I pin a bib anyway?

I positioned myself just before takeoff, a corpse in a sea of ​​115 bodies, ages 9 to 78, all six feet apart. The energy felt faster here than in a normal race – almost dizzy. While most of the runners were from Pennsylvania, only a handful were members of the Sunny Rest Resort. That meant almost everyone had traveled to this place – from places to Ohio, Delaware, and West Virginia – to do something unusual.

Runners had to wear masks to pick up their packages and were asked to wear them around other people. Pretzel City also moved the start and finish areas away from the crowded part of the resort and towards the campsites, so we had more space to spread out. Through a megaphone, Horn asked us to put our arms straight at our sides and said, "If you touch someone you don't sleep with, you're too close."

After the initial novelty of being aware that my bum was jumping around, everything felt like a race in clothes. We started at 10.15am and I usually finish by 8.00am in summer so it was hot. I was grateful for my hat and the sunscreen and anti-chafing balm I put all over my body. I was drenched in sweat for the first mile.

"I don't have a shirt to wipe my face!" shouted another runner. The more experienced naked runners thought they were carrying small towels.

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