Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Spartan Race

Race: A 5K race with added ‘X’ factor

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Olivia Higginson
Olivia Higginson
Olivia can usually be found running around the East Devon countryside with her fellow club runners. She has raced all distances from 5K to 50K, but her favourite distance is a half-marathon. Her dream would be to run in races around the world. Olivia is also a Sports Therapist, assisting runners to keep on running.

This race review is going to be very different. I don’t have many photographs of the race itself, for a reason that will become apparent… In August 2019 in Orlando, my fiancé and I ran the Cypress Cove Labour Day 5K. This race was very different and finished with a very surprising result!

Before the Cypres Cover Labor Day 5K race
Mike and I sight seeing at Magic Kingdom on the holiday that incorporated this 5K race

Why race on holiday?

What do most people do on holiday? What do you normally do on holiday? Most people would relax, do some sightseeing and maybe do a walking or a cycling tour. Most runners would also try to fit in a short run or two to keep the legs ticking over.

A 5 km race with an extra factor
A 5 km race with an x factor- running on holiday

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On my holidays I do all those things, however I have to take part in a running race. I either plan my holiday around a race, such as the Prague Marathon or the Salzburg 10K. Or I do my best to find a race to fit in to my holiday plans, like I did with the Barcelona 10K, Miami Zoo 5K and this race in Orlando.

So why the ‘X’ factor?

Considering it was August in Orlando, there were a limited choice of races. In fact, there was only one choice: the Cypress Cove Labour Day 5K. Everything about this race was normal. There was a start/finish line, it was timed, there were water stations and supporters. The only aspect that was different was that this was a 5K race around a nudist resort. Yes, that’s right! My goal to race on holiday is so strong that I entered myself and Mike into a nudist 5K race.

What I decided to wear

I read the website numerous times and it clearly stated that you could wear as much or as little clothing as you wanted. Great, I thought, it would be a parkrun with a difference. The difference being I would be running with people who were naked, including Mike. Whereas I would be running in my big England knickers and my sports bra.

Race day flatlay for the Cypress Cover Labor Day 5K
Probably the smallest pre-race flatlay ever

When we told people what we were planning to do, most people thought we were mad. They agreed it would be an experience and all of them posed the same question to Mike. “Let us know if you get chaffing in a certain area.” I will answer this at the end for you all.

Race morning

Mike and I were both very nervous, as this was completely out of our comfort zone so there was not much talking going on. I suggested that we go and find race HQ to get the low down on the race and then decide where to remove our clothes.

Start of the Cypress Cover Labor Day 5K
The stunning lake wasn’t the only view

As we headed towards HQ , I said to Mike that I had forgotten to bring any safety pins for our race numbers. Mike quickly replied, “Where would I pin my number?” With those words it dawned on me that Mike and fellow runners would be naked. Completely naked. If you’re reading this thinking about the issue of a race number, it was simple. In the style of a triathlon, it was written on our arm.

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Standing around at the start line we were surrounded by runners and walkers of all ages, of all sizes and in varying degrees of undress. I was nervous and self conscious of the fact that I was wearing my underwear. If I felt like this, then God only knows what was going on in Mike’s head.

Time to race

The starting bell sounded and off we went. After a few hundred meters of running, I was in my stride and I soon forgot that I was running in my underwear. Surrounded by people running who were naked. With such a small race field, only about 50 runners, I had space to run. It wasn’t shoulder to shoulder with naked runners, which was something I worried about beforehand.

Medal for the Cypress Cover Labor Day 5K
The finishers’ medal

I tried not to go at my usual 5K pace because of the high temperatures and humidity. But by the start of the second and final lap, I felt like the heat and humidity had built up in me and I started to slow down a lot. I stopped to drink at the water station and dragged myself to the finish. At the finish I was sweaty, but I felt free and liberated and I had rediscovered my body confidence. I was quite comfortable standing around chatting to fellow runners with my medal around my neck.

Not only had I discovered body confidence during the 25 minutes, but I had also finished first lady! I couldn’t believe it: I had won my first race. I had won a 5K by running 25 minutes, in my underwear, in the heat.

After the race

The plan was to go, strip, run, finish and then make a swift exit. However, as I had won I had to stay for the race ceremony, as there was no way I was missing out on getting my award. I didn’t realise that this would mean a two-hour wait, but luckily free use of the resort came with your race entry. Great! We could hang around by the pool enjoying the sunshine, but this would mean experiencing life at a nudist resort.

As we had planned to run and leave, we had nothing with us expect for the little hand towel we were given as a race memento. The resort shop was closed so we put both towels together on one sun lounger and a couple kindly lent us a towel for the other lounger.

Cypress Cover Labor Day 5K towel
The towel that you have to carry with you around the resort

Relaxing by the pool was an eye opener to a different kind of holiday. Yes there was a pool, a DJ, a bar – but everyone was naked. We decided it would be nice to cool off in the pool, which was quiet at that point, so we went for a dip. I’m going to be open and honest now and say we fully embraced the nudist way and we went swimming in our birthday suits for two reasons. One, we had no swimming kit with us, and second it would have been more weird to have been clothed. We’d have stood out more as being non-nudists, and we felt it would have been rude of us not to observe their way of resort life.

Winner!

Eventually the awards ceremony started, which meant that we could shortly leave, but first I had my award to collect. My first ever win and probably the only time I would come first female. I needed to savour this moment, as I won! I wondered what I would get… maybe a trophy or glass wear.

Cypress Cover Labor Day 5K medal front
The front of my winner’s medal

The announcer called out my name and I jumped from my sun lounger, walked around the pool and past all the guests. I was surrounded by people applauding me who were completely naked. The Race Director hung a medal around my neck which said ‘2019 Women’s Division 1st Place’ on the back, plus it was slightly bigger and heavier than the race medal.

Cypress Cover Labor Day 5K medal back
The reverse of my winner’s medal

On the walk back to my lounger everyone was congratulating me, which was super lovely and made my smile even bigger. Just as I had made it to the other side of the pool, the RD announced that all first-place winners could come back over to collect a sarong as an added memento. Off I went back past the naked people one last time.

The verdict

I’m really pleased that I took part in this race, not just because I was first woman home (which will go down as one of my best running performances) but because of the experience we had. It was a curious and eye-opening race that was different from any race I had done previously. It’s something that I would have never done at home.

It’s lovely to think that we’ve completed something that not many people have done, running around a nudist resort. Life is about new experiences, holidays are about seeing new places, meeting different people – we certainly achieved that. Yes I won, and Mike and I have a new story to tell, but most importantly I regained body confidence. No matter what you look like, you can run and be confident in your skin, whether you are fully clothed, naked or somewhere in-between.

Cypress Cover Labor Day 5K medals
Me with my race medals

Finally, to answer the question that was posed by many a friend, of both sexes. Mike did not experience any chaffing but, in his words, he did experience “some wind chill”. So there you go.

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