Bare Buns Runners Go Sunny Sides Up

Nude runners huddled around a chart of their race times, and one man happily noted that he had finished ahead of another who had the same name as the nation's vice president.

"I'm going to go home and tell my wife, `Honey, I beat Dan Quayle in a 5,000 - buck naked!' "

People shed everything but their sense of humor yesterday at the Bare Buns Fun Run at Forestia, the nudist camp south of Issaquah operated by Fraternity Snoqualmie.

Playfulness was as important as a second wind in this race. Some of the 592 registered runners, most of whom had no place to pin their race-number cards, wore them fig-leaf style. Others scrawled the numbers on their sweaty backs.

Fraternity Snoqualmie organized the race as a companion event to the eight-year-old Bare Buns race near Spokane, which is scheduled for July 28.

Yesterday's sun-washed race served to remind organizers that one can never underestimate people's yen to run naked through the woods.

Spokesman Chuck Hutchins said the race attracted twice as many runners as expected.

"Those of us who hate wearing clothes are simply trying to introduce our lifestyle to other people," Hutchins said.

While profit-making ensued - snack bars, T-shirt counters and trinket merchants were on hand - the event also sponsored a clothing drive for homeless people.

"There's a difference between not wearing your clothes and not having clothes to wear," said some of the nudist literature.

Belt-buckle salesman Glenn Weaver, who called himself a cowboy and had the sideburns to prove it, said business was tepid.

"People who have no pockets have no money," he explained.

Tan lines separated the nudists from the newcomers. Those without, it could be presumed, had exposed themselves regularly to the ways of Forestia.

One pair of pale first-time visitors, Grace Shore and her friend Jeanne, from Ellensburg, were wary. They felt the eyes of others as much as the sun's rays.

"I feel ridiculous," said Shore, 20, who folded her arms at her chest.

"Yes, very embarrassed," said Jeanne, also 20, who declined to give her last name.

"Seems like men are much more comfortable doing this," said Shore, as she squinted at the mostly male crowd.

"Still, after a while, it doesn't seem so strange," said Jeanne, with a smile.

Others were more at home.

The Cannon family from British Columbia had camped at Forestia the night before. They're on a vacation in the Northwest, driving from one nudist camp to the next.

"It appeals to me," said Jerry Cannon, who carried his 2-year-old son, Kevin, on his back, as he walked the 3.1-mile fun-run course.

"It appeals to him and I go along, which is why I'm wearing clothes," said Kelly Cannon, who walked hand in hand with the couple's 5-year-old daughter, Melanie.

Jerry Cannon said he takes his children along on nudist outings, and that when they get older, "If they get uncomfortable, we'll address the issues with them as openly as we can."

The novelty of what runner Hugh Tower called "the tremendous variety of human construction" soon faded for many visitors.

"At first you don't really know where to look," said Bente Stangeland, who came to the race with two other clothed runners. "Then you start to realize it doesn't matter, people here are friendly and they're already exhibitionist."

Like proud parents, organizers noted that the fastest runners, including the winner of the race, Buck Jones, ran in the buff.

"Makes sense to get rid of the extra weight," observed one.

Runners agreed that a nude run was necessarily a cooler run. They're not sure they'd all repeat the experience.

"It takes a little bit of getting used to," said runner Dale Hirt. "You're not used to things moving that are moving."

Which may be why one runner wore a tie-dyed jock strap.