I want to say right up front that I ran the race fully clothed. (No one would want to see me run 20 miles naked!) The “Naked” in the name of the race refers to the race being a no frills, low cost trail run. There were no T-shirts, no medals, and few awards, but the race only cost $30.
We started the race with German precision (the race director is German and most of his races have a German theme) at exactly 8:30. After a 200 meter jog on a park road, we entered the woods and ran on single track. Most of the run was in the woods, which was good. The trees and terrain provided some shelter from winds that were blowing out of the northwest at 30 miles per hour. We ran on a mixture of single and double track and soon got to the first aid station.
The volunteers at this and every aid station for the race were phenomenal! As I pulled up to the aid station I heard “What do you need? What can I get you?” over and over. There were cookies, candy, chips, soda, fruit, pretzels, trail mix and even bacon. We stopped, refueled, got a drink, deposited our cups, and started running again.
The race course was a lollipop shape. The first seven miles and the last seven miles were the same trail, run in different directions. In between, there was a seven mile loop that was the lollipop. You may notice that the mileage does not add up to exactly 20 miles, except in trail racing world. Trail race directors want to be sure that you get your money’s worth. They will give you at least the advertised mileage. The course was mostly wooded, but when we ran in open fields, the wind was definitely a factor. The terrain for the first part of the race was rolling – not flat, but no big hills either. There were some places where the trail was a muddy mess, but it was not the worst course I have ever done in terms of mud. A few trees had blown down across the trail, but climbing over them was not a problem either.
We got to the second aid station, which was the beginning of the loop. This aid station, unbelievably, was even better than the first! They had everything that the first aid station had, plus cubed potatoes to dip in salt, fresh, hot, salty French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches. There might have been more, but I missed it. I was too busy stuffing French fries in my mouth! Even with my lack of training, I still felt very good.
We began running the loop. Right about this time, we started following the pope. OK, it might not actually have been His Holiness, Pope Francis. I am not sure if his schedule permits him to run a 20 mile trail race in Pennsylvania. It might have just been a man dressed in pope-ish looking robes and a miter, nevertheless, it felt good to follow him.
The third aid station, which also had an amazing array of food and drinks, was the top of the lollipop loop and the approximate halfway point of the race. Volunteers here were having a great time, and were so very helpful. I can’t say enough good things about the hardy volunteers who stood out in the cold wind all day long filling cups, refilling food containers, cooking and helping the racers in any way possible. Their selfless good cheer made a good race even better.
It was after the mid-point in the race when we started running into some real hills. OK, they weren’t the Matterhorn, but they definitely got my attention. My race strategy in long trail races is usually to run the flat parts and downhills, hike up the grades, and walk up the hills, but keep moving at all times. These hills were definitely walkers! I think there even may have been a few times when I bent over and put my hands on my knees for a few seconds to catch my breath! My confidence began to waver and my hip injury started to hurt.
We kept moving, and finally reached the second aid station (which was now the fourth aid station). French fries and Coke revived my flagging spirits, and we got back onto the familiar part of the course, which we had run on the way out
We crossed the finish line at just over four and a half hours. Each finisher got a sturdy beer mug to commemorate the race, and I won my age group, so I also received a growler with the Naked Bavarian logo on it. There was plenty of post-race food, including some delicious German potato soup, bratwurst, sauerkraut, pasta, yummy banana bread and plenty of snacks.
I would highly recommend this race. It’s at a time where there are not many trail races to choose from in this part of the country. The price can’t be beat. The course is interesting, pretty, runner-friendly, and varied. The organization is top notch. The volunteers are the best. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the race, except that I should have trained better.