WORDS OF WARNING!!
This post contains images of a naked runner. He is fully naked and in his nakedaty (the act of being unnecessarily naked) he completely detracts attention from his barefeet
It’s not often someone allows you to get involved in their celebrations of a personal achievement or milestone, and its probably even less likely to involve freezing temperatures, blowing gales and a distinct lack of any footwear or clothes!
Still, this seems to have been Peter’s idea of marking his 1000th mile of the year. A naked run, at night, across the moorland on top of a section of the Peak District known as Shinning Tor. The route is fairly challenging and covers 2 miles with all of it up hill as you meander along a boggy footpath and slabbed areas, completely open to the elements and having no where for you to shelter from the wind or rain. Last night, the rain came and went quickly, but the freezing winds didn’t. They were strong enough to push you off balance on occasions and cold enough to burn your face as they hit you. Still, Peter was going to get this run done.
He looked nervous and his body language showed a mixture of the nervousness and I think a slight bit of excitement! He was about to do something that would push himself beyond his normal limits. Not just the lack of clothes in the cold, but running in barefeet on technical trails. I have to say I was concerned about the effect of the cold on his feet and its ability to completely drain the body of heat. Along with Joe (a fellow runner who had joined us as support) we got out the car, Peter undressed in the back of his car and then as quickly as he could he started his run.
My job was to take pictures of him running, so holding a small lightweight tripod, with camera attached, in one hand and a small manual flash in the other, I ran off ahead. Constantly checking back to see how Pete was moving, setting up the camera, waiting for him to get into shot and using the separate flash to make sure he actually registered in the photo added an odd sense of excitement to the evening. The other aspect of excitement was to be involved with such an insane idea in the first place. I’ve ran barefoot in the winter, but fully clothed and know what it can do to your feet if you aren’t careful. The other part was to make sure Pete was ok.
Hypothermia has a way of sneaking up on a person who’s running. You run and your body heats up, you lose body heat from sweat and if it rains, the evaporation of the moisture robs you of even more body heat. Constantly watching how Pete was moving, talking to him and checking that his speech hasn’t changed and asking him how his hands and feet felt was the other part of the deal. I had to make sure he didn’t become hypothermic, and if he did deal with it as quickly as possible. Both of us (Joe and I) ran along, gave Pete the encouragement you would give someone racing, watching him move along at a great pace considering the conditions and seeing the joy he felt on reaching the trig point at the top of Shinning Tor was amazing. He had done something, which although short in distance, took a certain level of self control and self belief to achieve. His prancing around the trig could be excused at this point, but the fact that his body temperature would begin to drop fairly quickly was worrying. He posed for a couple of pics, ran behind a wall and out of the wind, and Joe helped him get dressed.He was fully dressed and had been for a few minutes, but he was starting to get hypothermic. His coordination seemed off and his speech was slightly slower than normal. I made him put on my waterproof on tip of everything, forcing the hood over his head. Then we began to move at a slow steady pace, and I’m glad the extra layer fit him and we spotted the fact that he was starting to become hyperthermic early. Within a few minutes of running back to the car, his normal movement had returned and he was chatting along normally.
Now, I can’t in anyway describe how Peter felt after his little 2 miles of insanity, but I had a certain sense of pride and awe at what he’d achieved. It takes a fair bit to really put your self out of your comfort zone and avoid those creature comforts that we are told are essential. At the same time, our bodies and minds are capable of so much more when we give them the opportunity, when we let them out of the box we place around them as a security blanket against harm. It seems with each random mini adventure, training run and discussion I’m getting back to the sheer joy of being alive that I felt during summer. For his part in that, I’d like to thank Pete and also Joe for his help on the night, and getting Pete dressed so quickly.
SO, here’s a couple of serious points…..
Firstly, if you’re going to go outside and push yourself, make sure you have a safety net or several escape routes. The second part is make sure you have as much knowledge of the outdoor and the problems you’ll face as you can, and if you don’t… Take someone along who will do.
And on that note, here’s a bit of info on hypothermia that’s really useful to read, especially since we are heading into winter.
If you scroll down, you can see the pictures of the evening but be warned….. He was naked!