Running in Olympia - Ancient Style

While planning a trip to Greece in the spring, my husband has been joking with our kids that when we get to Olympia, he's going to run in the stadium. Like the Ancient athletes did. Nude. Needless to say, the chances of this happening are less than 0. But I have to ask: Would it be possible? Is running naked in Olympia against the law? And if so, are there guards there watching over the ruins? Could one - in theory - make a plan to actually pull this off? (Cue "evil genius" background movie music -because the wheels in my head are spinning with ideas.) To add to the story: My kids have been mortified at the idea of their dad doing his Ancient Olympian impersonation. So much so that they brought it up with my father, who will be accompanying us on this trip. Much to their horror, my father told them he thought it needed to be more realistic and would only work if he had some competition - and then proceeded to tell my kids it would now officially be a race. He just asked that he be allowe to wear sandals ;-) So now any information I get here will be shared with the kids. I can't wait to add to the conversation next time it comes up, "I asked people who've actually been there and know and here's how we really can pull this off..."

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2372 posts

There are no heavily armed guards waiting to shoot anyone on site for stripping down naked. That said, it might be frowned upon. When I was there, there weren't many people, including guards, around at all. I guess I could have tried it... The "stadium" is just an open flat of gravel.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

It has been said that men are just little boys. You have your proof.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
429 posts

Hi Dina Perhaps your family doesn't know that there is an ancient Sacred Games site (in fact it was "runner up" to Olympia in popularity), NEMEA, where every 4 years more than 10,000 enthusiasts revive a version of the ancient Sacred Games. Here is a website that tells all about it. unfortunately, the Games year was 2012, in June... but Nemas is VERY handy to visit, if u are going to the Peloponnese. It's just about 18 Km after the Corinth Canal, on RH side of the big highway toward tripoli, only 4? km off to the right. Has a stadium, an amphitheatre, a temple, a museum, lots of columns... everything but tour busses!
You can stop on the way to Nafplio... husb & kids would love it... and it is NEVER crowded to they might get away with a (very short) naked sprint.

Posted by janet
Philadelphia, PA, USA
429 posts

Dina -- an added comment -- have your husband read the entire Nemea website; it tells in detail the inspiring story of how local Nemeans helped excavate the site and revive the ancient games, and it gives the exact ritual the amateur athletes go thru today, to take part; what they wear (or not) the oath they take, etc. The children will love it --- there are phtographs of each stage of it.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17718 posts

Dina, They can't be serious???? It sounds like the two of them are just teasing the kids. In addition to being nude, the ancient athletes were also slathered in olive oil. Are your relatives planning to recreate that aspect of the race as well? Perhaps they can also have a nude race at the stadium in Delphi, site of the ancient Pythian Games. The Greeks seem to tolerate nudity at beach locations (ie: Mykonos), but I'm not sure that same tolerance would extend to the Olympic site. Cheers!

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

Ken is correct in that we are teasing the kids and won't actually do this. But now that I have the idea in my head, I am determined to figure out how it may actually be possible. Good to know there aren't armed guards. Although slathering on the olive oil is going to add a layer of complexity... Janet - thanks for the info on NEMEA. Interesting. I'd never heard of it and will definitely be sharing the information with the kids. Not sure we'll plan to go there this trip, but I've been poking around the Nemean games website and might just have to think about a trip there for 2016.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2432 posts

Greece is a rather conservative country (apart from designated nude beaches, which are everywhere), so while getting shot by a guard is not a problem, an arrest for public nudity could be possible. Frankly, I don't think this is the first time anyone has thought of doing this, so the site staff may be prepared.