Raw Challenge -- Nudist Club Can Barely Hide Its Excitement Over Clothing-Optional 5-Kilometer Fun Run

The naked truth is, you just can't start up a "fun run" these days without a gimmick.

T-shirts are old hat. Scenic courses are common. Pasta dinners the night before are no longer anything special.

So, the race Mike Noreen's club will host July 12 near Issaquah will have all the standard features and something else: bare buns.

The "clothing optional" 5-kilometer run will be hosted by Fraternity Snoqualmie, one of the Northwest's oldest and largest family nudist clubs, at its 38-acre private park on Tiger Mountain.

"It's a fund-raiser for our park, a way to get people up there kind of like an open house, and they can see we're not too strange," said Noreen, race director. "If you didn't get to go streaking, this is your chance."

Noreen admits he borrowed the idea from Kaniksu Ranch, a nudist park near Spokane that will host its eighth annual "Bare Buns Fun Run" July 26.

Noreen and his wife, Barbara, participated in that event the last two years and have encouraged their club to bring the phenomenon across the Cascades. Appropriately enough, the Fraternity Snoqualmie race is called "Bare Buns Fun Run West."

"We've teamed up (with Kaniksu) for a kind of an east-west bare-buns circuit," said Noreen.

Runners, wheelchair users and walkers are invited. "You don't have to run nude, however this race will have many nude participants and officials," says a flier promoting the event.

The Eastern Washington bare-buns event drew 800 participants last year, with just under a third running in the nude. A number of other participants ran in various stages of undress, including men in jockstraps.

Kaniksu's upcoming run got a plug in the current issue of Runner's World magazine, under the headline: "Where do you pin your race number?" (Although the magazine left the question unanswered, sources say nude runners hang race numbers from their necks with yarn or shoelace.)

Noreen said he hopes his inaugural western version of the bare-bun event will draw about 500.

The run is just one way the 300-member Fraternity Snoqualmie club tries to make itself known to potential new members. In August, the park will hold its third annual "Nudestock" concert in conjunction with Seattle radio station KISW-FM.

The race's $13 entry fee will help the club finance completion of a tennis court and permanent sand-volleyball area, Noreen said.

The race flier, now at some Seattle-area running-gear shops, describes the Fraternity Snoqualmie course as scenic but challenging, an out-and-back route gaining 800 feet before the turnaround. Trophies will go to the first-place nude male and female as well as the first-place clothed male and female.

Despite their emphasis on freedom from clothing, both runs are faithful to that most sacred of fun-run traditions: souvenir T-shirts.

Kaniksu has two versions of its shirt, differentiating between "finisher" and "nude finisher."

Fraternity Snoqualmie's watermelon-pink shirts make no such distinction, but bear the race's slogan: "Be brave, be tough. Beat the mountain in the buff!"

Information on the Fraternity Snoqualmie run is available by calling 392-NUDE. For information on the race at Kaniksu Ranch, located about 40 miles north of Spokane, call 1-509-624-6777.