Running the “Nearly Naked Mile” in 50-degree temperatures (PHOTOS)

Finishers in the Nearly Naked Mile run at Reston Town Center last Saturday. (Kevin Ambrose)

Runners in the Nearly Naked Mile approach the finish line, November 9, 2013. (Leanne Littman)

As a runner, I follow the schedule of road races in the Washington, D.C. area fairly closely.  When I saw the Nearly Naked Mile advertised by Potomac River Running, it caught my attention.

The race was touted as “family-friendly nearly naked” and was scheduled for November 9 in Reston Town Center. The race organizers said, “don’t be afraid to get creative and have FUN!”

I immediately wondered, why is the race held in November?  Wouldn’t running nearly naked in July or August be a little more comfortable?   Running nearly naked through early season snow showers or in a November nor’easter might be slightly unpleasant.

Finishers of the Nearly Naked Mile, November 9, 2013. (Kevin Ambrose)

Runners of the Nearly Naked Mile, November 9, 2013. (Leanne Littman)

I enjoy new challenges so I signed up for the race.  I also asked Potomac River Running for an interview to find out more about the race and to inquire why it’s a race run in the fall.

Keira D’Amato, Director of Marketing at Potomac River Running, seemed happy to accept the interview.  The interview is below:

How many years has the Nearly Naked Mile been run?
This is the third annual Nearly Naked Mile.

How many runners are registered in the race this year?
Last year we had about 800 runners, we are hoping to have more this year!

This is a race for a cause.  Can you describe the cause?
This race is all about feeling comfortable in your own skin.  Net proceeds from the race support the Burn Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, the only adult burn treatment center in the Washington metropolitan area.  The Burn Center at MedStar is a 20-bed facility that features a multidisciplinary team approach to burn care that provides comprehensive care for burn victims.  They are proud to manage one of the largest outreach and educational programs in the country on burn prevention, burn treatment and burn care.

Waiting for the race to begin. (Leanne Littman)

Waiting for the race to begin. (Leanne Littman)

Can you describe the worst weather and/or coldest weather you have experienced during the race?
In the two years prior, the race has been in the 40s or 50s… which is the thrill of the race!  It might be a little chilly, but that makes you even tougher to be running nearly naked!

Have you ever had a problem with a runner getting too naked for the race?
No.  We encourage “family-friendly nearly naked” and have not had any issues in the past.

What is the fastest mile time recorded for the race, male and female?
NNM Record Male: 4.36.0 set by Moise Joseph.
NNM Record Female: 5.17.0 set by Heather Jelen.

Who are the race sponsors this year?
The Northern VA Fools, The Endurance Athlete Center, and Naked Pizza – free Naked Pizza to all runners!

Can you describe Potomac River Running and the PR race series?
Potomac River Running is a family-owned, locally based running specialty store with locations in Arlington, Ashburn, Burke, Cleveland Park, Falls Church, Leesburg, Reston, Rockville, and now Fairfax!  We opened in the Spring of 2003 in Loudoun County with the goal of sharing our passion for an active lifestyle with the community.

The =PR= Race Series is owned by Potomac River Running, we put on over 20 races a year in the DC Area.  The races range from mile races to 20k, we cover all distances!  Visit www.PRRaces.com for a list of all upcoming races.

Have you considered moving the race to summer for warmer weather?
Nope, the fall weather is the perfect setting for this race.

Warming up for the race, November 9, 2013. (Leanne Littman)

Warming up for the race, November 9, 2013. (Leanne Littman)

So how does it feel to run nearly naked in 50-degree temperatures?  Below is my account of the race:

I arrived at Reston Town Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday.  The first race began at 2 p.m.  The temperature was in the mid-50s with a bright sun and gusty winds.  Despite the winds, it seemed to be a nice day for a race.

As I ran my warmup, the wind was quite brisk and I wondered how the wind chill would increase once I removed my layers of clothing.  Even during my warmup, I could feel the wind through my clothing.

Before the start of the race, I eyed the other runners.  No-one appeared to be ready to run a nearly naked race.  There were lots of jackets, long sleeve shirts, and other types of assorted clothing.  I was wearing two layers of clothing and I felt hesitant about removing anything.

Then, the race director called the runners to the line.  The runners quickly pealed off their clothes.  With a deep breath, I too pealed off my warm and comfortable layers.

The top finishers of the men's competitive mile. (Leanne Littman)

The top finishers of the men’s competitive mile.  Nahom Mesfin took first place with a time of 4:19.   (Leanne Littman)

Many of us stood in boxer shorts at the starting line.  Potomac River Running gave out flannel boxer shorts to the runners instead of race T-shirts.  I’ll admit, I wore my boxer shorts over a pair of running shorts, just to be safe.

The wind gusted into our faces as the race announcer organized us at the starting line.  It was a cold wind but the sun helped to reduce the chill.

With loud announcement, “Take your mark” and “Go,” the race started.

The mile is a race that goes out fast and we were sprinting directly into the wind.  I felt the wind quickly chill my body.  The excitement and adrenaline rush associated with of the start, however, helped me to take my mind off of the cold.

The top finishers in the women's competitive division. (Leanne Littman)

The top finishers in the women’s competitive mile. Tadesse Desta took first place with a time of 5:00.  (Leanne Littman)

Soon, I noticed many shirtless and boxer-clad runners pulling ahead of me.  I was not going to join the leaders in this nearly naked race.   I was happy to settle back into the pack.

The crowd cheered as we finished the first lap of the two lap race.  When I entered the second lap, there was no sense of cold.  All I felt was a sense of gasping for breath.

As I approached the last quarter mile of the race, I began my kick.  Immediately, I my left leg cramped.  I thought, “Yep, that’s what you get for running nearly naked in 50-degree weather.”  The cramp may have been a result of my lack of training or improper stretching but I’ll blame it on the cold weather and cold muscles.

Fortunately, I was able to maintain my pace for the finish of the race.

A few of the runners before the race. (Leanne Littman)

A few of the runners before the race. (Leanne Littman)

Most of the runners were slow to put their clothes back on after finishing the race.  Even a mile run will generate quite a bit of body heat.  After about 10 minutes, most runners were clothed again.

By November standards, the weather was very nice for the race.  Potomac River Running got lucky for the third straight year regarding the weather.  If this race continues every year, however, there will be a cold, raw race day in the future.  It’s just a matter of time given our mid-Atlantic climate.

The start of the men's competitive race.  (Leanne Littman)

The start of the men’s competitive race.  (Leanne Littman)

Regarding how I finished, I ran a 5:26 for 31st place in the men’s division. Not bad, I suppose, for an old guy.

I would like to give a special thanks to Leanne Littman and Potomac River Running for contributing photos for this article.

Here is a link to the Potomac River Running Flickr site for more photos from the race.

The start of the women's competitive race. (Leanne Littman)

The start of the women’s competitive race. (Leanne Littman)

The open division of the Nearly Naked Mile prepares to start. (Kevin Ambrose)

Runners of the Nearly Naked Mile prepare to start the race. (Leanne Littman)

Cookie Monster made an appearance in the race. (Leanne Littman)

Cookie Monster made an appearance at the race. (Leanne Littman)

Posing for a group shot before the race. (Leanne Littman)

Posing for a group shot before the race. (Leanne Littman)

Firefighters worked the race and ran in the race.  Proceeds from the race support the Burn Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. (Leanne Littman)

Firefighters worked the race and also ran in the race.  Proceeds from the race support the Burn Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. (Leanne Littman)

A couple of the more modest runners. (Potomac River Running)

A couple of the more modest runners. (Potomac River Running)

A syncronized kick to the finish. (Potomac River Running)

A syncronized kick to the finish. (Potomac River Running)

Nice shoes!  (Potomac River Running)

Nice shoes!  (Potomac River Running)

After a mile run every hair is still in place.  (Potomac River Running)

After a mile run every hair is still in place.  (Potomac River Running)

At least his ears are warm.  (Potomac River Running)

At least his ears are warm.  (Potomac River Running)

A little cargo for the run. I wonder if his back is sore?  (Potomac River Running)

Carrying a little cargo for the run. I wonder if his back was sore after the race?  (Potomac River Running)

Having a lot fun with the race. (Potomac River Running)

Having a lot fun with the race!  (Potomac River Running)

Sprinting and striking a pose for the finish. (Potomac River Running)

Sprinting and striking a pose for the finish. (Potomac River Running)

Getting ready for Christmas. (Potomac River Running)

Getting ready for Christmas. (Potomac River Running)

 

There was awesome bagpipe music for the finish of the race. (Potomac River Running)

There was awesome bagpipe music for the finish of the race. (Potomac River Running)

Firefighters finish the race. (Potomac River Running)

Firefighters finish the race. (Potomac River Running)

 

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