When the Caliente Resort hosts the eighth-annual Caliente Bare Dare 5K presented by Pasco County on Sunday, May 7, it will mark the latest chapter in Tampa Bay’s long history of clothing-optional races.
More than 400 runners are expected to converge on Caliente in Pasco County for what has become the largest clothing-optional race in North America, an event that since 2012 has determined the National Championship of Nude Running.
Many runners have attended the Caliente Bare Dare 5K as a one-and-done, bucket-list race only to return again after enjoying the all-day, post-race party at Caliente, which features seven swimming pools, multiple bars, restaurant, and an upscale clubhouse. The race has drawn runners from an average of 25 states over the last three years. Though runners from all levels participate, the course-record times (15:49 male, 17:53 female) are comparable to those of much larger events.
Nude running in Central Florida began in 1993 when the Lake Como nudist resort, also in Pasco County, debuted the “Dare to Go Bare 5K.” Sabrina Vizzari, the club’s 20-year-old activities director at the time, wanted an event similar to those she had seen while living in Washington state.
The Lake Como event grew gradually and in 1998 drew more than 300 runners due to a marketing partnership with Tampa’s news radio 970 AM, which re-branded itself for the week leading up to the event as “Nude Radio 970.” The race attracts a smaller field these days (135 last year), but still boasts a scenic course on both asphalt and trails. This year’s event, the 25th annual, takes place on April 9.
Paradise Lakes, located adjacent to Lake Como along US 41 in Lutz, for years held a 5K the weekend before Thanksgiving. More recently, the clothing-optional resort has held occasional 5K races at various times of the year.
In 2011, the Cypress Cove nudist resort in Kissimmee launched the “Streak the Cove 5K,” which has attracted between 150 and 200 runners annually to the Orlando area resort. But it’s the Caliente Bare Dare 5K, which debuted a year earlier in 2010 that has become the signature event on the nude racing calendar.
By holding a clothing-optional race at the upscale Caliente Resort and marketing it to the mainstream running community, the Caliente Bare Dare 5K draws a larger crowd than typical nudist club races. Many runners have remarked that they’ve set personal 5K records by competing at Caliente, where the course takes runners on paths along lakes and through the resort’s upscale residential area. All but a 50-yard grassy section is on asphalt.
Unlike most running events, where runners depart shortly after the race or the awards ceremony, most runners stay all day since admission to Caliente is included with the race entry fee, making the event one of the best values in endurance sports. Last year, race organizers replaced the traditional race T-shirt with a 30×60 beach towel and plans to do so again this year.
Though photography and video is prohibited at the race for obvious privacy reasons, several journalists have participated in the event and written about their experiences.
Jessica Sebor, the editor of Women’s Running magazine, became the inaugural female winner of the National Championship of Nude Running in 2012 and wrote about the experience.
“I know it’s going to take more than one Sunday morning to cure my self-consciousness,” she wrote about running nude. “But running the Bare Dare did teach me this: If you don’t challenge yourself, you will never have the chance to be crowned a champion.”