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Getting Naked for Nike

posted by Laura Landgreen, a Women Talk Sports blogger
Friday, April 24, 2009 at 1:45am EDT

About Laura Landgreen:

Born and raised in Eugene, OR, I became a swimmer at the University of Nebraska (2000-2003). Now I'm pursuing my love of distance running by training for the Boston Marathon while teaching full-time i...more

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I first found out about Bear Butte Running Camp through a Nike Pack E-mail encouraging some of us Los Angeles area runners to audition for a new “Mockumentary” that Nike was filming. I read through the description of the ad and questioned whether or not I was enough of an exhibitionist to possibly bare it all for the sake of creating something different and pretty freaking hilarious. I decided I would go to the audition and find out what the “wardrobe” consisted of and then worry about my modesty if they chose me as one of their runners.

To my surprise, they did choose me, and I soon after had a sneaking suspicion that my wardrobe may only consist of Nike shoes and little else when the Saturday wardrobe fitting was cancelled and I was asked to show up to the location early on Sunday morning without knowing exactly what I would be wearing. I was suddenly pleased with my decision to visit a tanning bed twice in the previous week to erase the stark contrast between my very Scandinavian buns and the rest of my body, which sees the sun on a regular basis.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have a few butterflies in my stomach as I drove to Simi Valley from my West L.A. apartment that Sunday morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I knew that pro Nike runners Lauren Fleshman and Nick Symmonds would be there as well. How awkward to meet two of my running heroes in the nude! My anticipation slowly lifted as I became distracted by signs that I was following which read “Harvest Crew” that were oddly enough located directly above and pointing in the same direction as signs advertising “Raquel’s Bat-Mitzvah”. I started thinking about how traumatized teenage Raquel would be if a group of nude runners came flopping through her coming of age party, and I could only laugh. I knew then that those two days of filming would be an adventure if nothing else.

Once I arrived at the location, I was given a very tiny flesh toned g-string with clear plastic straps across the back and up the middle. I was also given pasties, which I had never worn before and found to be pretty comfortable for someone like myself who could consider a band-aid to be a sufficient bra. I put on my miniscule wardrobe and then the real fun began! We were told to pick out a Nike watch of our choice, were given a pair of Nike Free 5.0 shoes (which are now my absolute favorite racing shoes- and no, Nike didn’t pay me to say that), and some of us lucky runners were given Nike sunglasses as well. It was like Christmas morning! We had our pasties covered in makeup to match our natural skin tones by the makeup artists, crammed into rented SUV’s, and were driven up the hill to a pretty rugged trail where we spent most of the morning learning each others anatomy.

Stripping off the sweats for the first time was probably the most shocking experience of the day. Even though I am from Eugene, Oregon, where topless hippies frequent the streets of the Saturday Market each weekend, I was stricken with shyness, especially being new to running and not wanting things to jiggle while being filmed in high definition beside the much more accomplished runners and their impeccably lean bodies. But all it took to put a smile on my face and lighten the mood was one of the other runners shouting, “Spring break! Woohoo!” as he undressed. I realized that everyone else felt just as ridiculous in their g-string as I felt in mine, and a positive, humorous tone was set for the day.

And so the hill repeats in pasties began. After shooting a few takes, the producers weren’t happy with the reflection coming off the clear straps on the underwear. We tried applying makeup over the top, but it quickly came off and we were back to square one. We were given the completely optional choice to bare it all and ditch the undies for some generous Nike gift cards, and within mere seconds, all but four of us girls were jumping up and down with their hands in the air hoping to get picked by the casting director. Those of us who decided to leave a very little something to the imagination got to put on our clothes and take in the view (of the mountains, of course). We dubbed ourselves the “never nudes” (any fans of Arrested Development might appreciate the nickname) and spent quite a bit of time over the two days soaking up the sun.

One of my favorite parts of the two-day shoot involved the scene where an actress was brought in to play the part of the Nike rep. It was so hard to keep a straight face as she stood in front of us, answering questions such as, “do these shoes come in a size 15?” with some quirky responses that didn’t make the final cut. My personal favorite was when she answered Mr. 15’s question with a very serious, “Yes, yes they do. And congratulations, by the way.” I should mention that each time Mr. 15 (whose real name is Jonathan) stood up to ask his question, his naked butt was literally inches away from my face and that the director continually asked him to pull down his g-string more and more with each take because they were picking up a clear strap reflection on film. I kept thinking to myself that this was so not a typical Sunday!

I am exposing my inner running nerd here, but part of the reason that I was so interested in this particular Nike project was how excited I was about getting to meet and run with Lauren Fleshman and Nick Symmonds. A lifetime fan of distance running, I have watched Lauren race for years and was present at the 2008 Olympic Trials at Hayward field when Nick won the 800 in one of the most electrifying moments of the entire competition (Oregon runners swept the race). I also knew that Kara and Adam Goucher would be involved and I would never pass on the opportunity to appear in an advertisement with them (even though unfortunately for me, they shot their segment in Portland, Oregon). I am an enormous Kara Goucher fan, especially after her gutsy and downright inspirational Boston Marathon performance last Monday.

My hopes for meeting Lauren and Nick were more than surpassed. They were both extremely friendly, down to earth, and obviously fun people. Lauren was a “never nude” like myself, so we spent a lot of time talking about running and Eugene during our down time. We discovered that she is a very talented guitar player, singer, and songwriter. She played a few tunes during one scene and I was quite impressed.

My entire experience with Bear Butte Running Camp was an extremely memorable and entertaining one. I met some fantastic people who became fast friends, was accessorized (but not clothed!) in Nike gear, and above all, am now proud to say that I was a part of this creative and comical Nike project, even if I did gasp with shock when I saw my naked rear end front and center on the Nike website.

Until you see my bare buns again,
~L

Just in case you haven't seen the footage, here is the link:

http://insidenikerunning.nike.com/2009/04/16/get-naked/

http://www.youtube.com/insidenikerunning

Also, watch for a more tame 30 second version on ESPN and NBC during track and field events this spring and summer (Penn Relays, Pre Classic, and the US Track & Field Championships)!

http://www.smalldeer.com/downloads/ishness/nike_free/bbrc_30.mov

On the set of Bear Butte Running Camp

Simi Valley mountains for Nike Free

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There is 1 comment on this post. Join the discussion!

AShadle1 says:

Love you Laura! You are a great writer! Wish Ann and I could have joined in on the fun :)

Friday, April 24, 2009 at 4:08pm EDT

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Laura Landgreen

Born and raised in Eugene, OR, I became a swimmer at the University of Nebraska (2000-2003). Now I'm pursuing my love of distance running by training ...
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