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April 08, 1999 - Image 15

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-08

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28B - The Michigan Daily -est of Ann Arhor 1999 - Thursday, April 8, 1999

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RBest Campus Tradition
Thousands crowd Ann Arbor
streets for running, voyeurism

By Sasha Higins
Daily Arts Writer
If a scene of naked revelers delighting
in the outdoors reminds you only of the
Roman orgy painted on Gratzi's walls,
yquobviously haven't been in Ann Arbor
long. But don't fret, the instant replay is
just around the corner. You'll be able to
witness a celebration no artist can attempt
to convey, not to mention an unforgettable
Ann Arbor tradition - the Naked Mile.
Scheduled to take place on the last
school day of each winter semester, the
Mile celebrates its 13th birthday this year.
Last year, on April 21, it attracted 1,500
paicipants - the most ever. Such
turnout gave the event the named
"Greatest Streaker Gathering."
The Mile's come a long way since its
humble beginnings. In the spring of 1986,
a group of four students, part of a house-
hold named "The Oasis," decided to find
the ultimate release from pre- and post-
exam stress. Doug Krause and Steve
Ggper - Oasis residents, track/cross
country runners and founding fathers -
were leaving an Ann Arbor bar when
Gayner dared Krause to walk home with-

out his pants.
From this stemmed the idea to run
completely nude through campus. The set
route was to start just past Washtenaw
Avenue on South University Avenue, and
end at the Oasis on East William Street.
The plans spread to several members of
the track and crew teams (two Oasis resi-
dents were crew members). The actual
event started at a crew member's house
on the corner of Walnut and South
University Avenue; Jane Esselstyn,
another crew member, drove the car car-
rying the runners' clothes.
Originally there were 12 runners, 10
men and two women. Torin Dewey, an
Oasis resident, provided the background
music - riding a bicycle along side them
and blasting the theme from "Chariots of
Fire" on a boom box. Runners stopped to
pose for pictures on the steps of the
Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.
The crew team since then has taken a
role of leadership in the Mile. Crew team
members, wearing nothing but goose-
bumps, formally begin the race at around
10:30 p.m., and the runners follow about
an hour later. Obviously used to extreme

temperatures in crew practice, the team is
unaffected by weather conditions. Last
year, the impressive turnout proved that
17 degree weather will not deter those
bent on following the team's example.
Engineering junior Josh Hauser plans
to save his Mile debut until next year.
"It's a hell of a great way to shed every-
thing, from problems to clothes during
that last week of school," Hauser said.
Most people are attracted to the event
more for observation than for participa-
tion. Last year, more than 20,000 specta-
tors turned out. Runners had to tolerate
not only the frigid air but also the flash of
camera lights.
Last year, reporters came from as far as
London and Germany. CNN, National
Public Radio, and numerous local televi-
sion stations were part of the media fren-
zy welcoming the participants. Several
independent agents, hoping to cash in on
exposing the Michigan student body, also
fought their way to the front. Runners
have now begun to come prepared to
combat their meddlesome onlookers -
with squirt guns, masks, and even fists.
The male-to-female ratio in the Mile is

The "Naked Mile" was voted Ann Arbor's Best tradition.

significant. Only around 250 runners
were women last year, and DPS attribut-
es this to the increased hazard of sexual
assault for female runners. Student
groups have attempted to diminish the
risk by arranging various safety crews to
supervise the run. Volunteers wearing
bright yellow T-shirts work closely with
local police to establish a Naked Mile
Security Force. Volunteers also give T-
shirts to runners for the walk home.

Safety, however, is not as much a con-
cern as exposure. Students like LSA
senior Jeremy Covington see the attrac-
tion to the event, but don't aspire to be
runners. Ever.
"For me there isn't enough Jack
Daniels in the world to run and let this
college watch me bare all;" Covington
said. "One day I might get into politics
and who knows where pictures could sur-
face in the future!"

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