Yes. That marathon?
There are many cults of running: marathons, 5k, barefoot, extreme, trail, etc. etc. etc.
Maybe even naked running will become a cult one day?
A cynic like me could not resist the temptation to try a naked run while I was in Athens for a few days. The mythical birthplace of the running cult to beat all running cults: Marathon, Greece. I am not part of any cult.
Encouraged by a post on activenaturists.net I decided to give it a try. The article suggests that nudity is tolerated on Shinias beach, despite it not being an officially sanctioned naturist beach (there are a few official nudist beaches near Athens, but they are all rocky or with stretches of sand barely 100 metres high-not particularly suitable for a naked run!). I wish I could say this experience was an Olympic success…
At the end of the one-hour drive from the centre of Athens, I parked the car next to the access point. I was quite nervous; I knew this was not a naturist beach and there were a few cars and a few people (I had hoped for Portugal-style emptiness on this winter weekday January afternoon). I undressed by the car and ran straight onto the beach…
Surprise! There were more people than I expected. A man walking along the water. Someone is swimming. A couple on sun loungers down the road.
I decided that afternoon that how a culture reacts to a harmless, totally naked man running by would be a great judge of national character. The English looked away in shame, huffed under their breath, then grabbed their mobile phone and called the police. The Portuguese would look away and walk on. The Spaniards, depending on their age, would try to ignore or join in, as the case may be. The French would laugh and joke about the man who is German…
Finally, on the beach that day, the Greeks took it upon themselves to bring upon me the wrath of their God. They started screaming and waving their arms. making all kinds of fuss. Well, that actually started only after a stunned silence. For example, when I passed the couple in lounge chairs, they stared in disbelief, and only when I passed them and they were out of my direct view did they start yelling insults (behind my back: brave!). I do not speak Greek. I couldn’t understand a word. But I understood everything they meant. And it was not a nice day. It was aggressive, loud, and offensive.
As I ran across the beach and distanced myself from them, they fell silent. Unfortunately, I noticed more people further down the road who would most likely react in the same way. And I was getting further and further away from the safety of my rental car (and my passport and clothes). If someone called the police, I’d be stuck.
I am not an exhibitionist. I don’t run naked to shock other people. I run naked because of how I feel inside. I understand that not everyone wants to see me naked, but as a part-time naturist, I believe their discomfort is mostly due to their own fears; I do no harm.
I started to feel a manly fire in my stomach that I had never experienced before. It’s magical. I call it an orgasm for the psyche. It’s the only feeling I’ve ever had in my life that I want more of, like a drug. As a result, I now have a hobby of naked running. And I started this blog. Running down this Greek beach with people yelling at me… Well, there was no fire. No orgasm. I saw no point in continuing along the beach. So I turned and ran back to the car.
Then it got interesting. As I approached the couple in the armchair, the man stood up. He was topless and obese. He started screaming and walking towards me as I approached them. It was threatening. He was no longer content to be a coward; he had become the aggressor; my nakedness was so threatening to him that he went on the attack. His arms waved. He certainly spoke all sorts of obscenities. At that point, I wished I knew Greek so I could tell him that his unhealthy body bothered me and my nakedness bothered him!
His rapid movement was so limited that he was an easy obstacle to avoid. But I wasn’t back at the car yet. Then I met the man who was walking along the beach and who had yelled at me before-again behind my back. This time, when I approached him, like the couple, he started it again (yelling, waving arms, etc). But unlike the first man, he stood directly in my path. Again, he was an easily avoidable obstacle, and I got back to the car, jumped into my shorts, and drove off. In that case,
As I drove and my heart rate returned to normal, I thought about this experience. The screaming behind my back The men charged (the women did not scream; they sat stunned, perhaps appreciatively silent). The aggression Swinging the arms makes them appear bigger and stronger. These are all classic expressions of animal masculinity. I was naked on their territory. They felt threatened. They defended their patch. It wasn’t really about being naked. My nudity just hit that subconscious trigger that doesn’t activate under more normal day-to-day circumstances. None of these thoughts, of course, made up for my disappointment.
It wasn’t until I returned to Athens that I wanted to kick myself. I had ridden through the most beautiful, desolate landscape around Marathon. If the beach was too populated, I would certainly have found a country road to run naked on in peace and quiet. But I was too perturbed at the time to think that resourcefully, and I associate naked running with beaches because it allows me to run barefoot. Oh, well, there’s always next time!
Though I did not achieve what I came for – there was no fire in the belly; no orgasm of the psyche – I ran naked for 4 minutes and 12 seconds on the beach of Marathon, Greece for 690 meters.And that still counts!
NB: Due to the nature of this run, I was unable to document it with photography. The header photo is borrowed from the internet.