Nude Kilometer a Modest Success
By Gretchen Bassier
Gretchen Bassier is a 33-year-old home healthcare worker with a BA in Psychology. She loves cats, dogs, horses, and basically every other living creature - except mosquitoes. Several of her short stories can be found over at Every Day Fiction.
DEARBORN, Michigan—Once a year, a small but brave group of University of Michigan students makes a daring 5,280-foot sprint across their Ann Arbor campus...minus their clothing. Now, in the spirit of camaraderie and sisterhood, U of M-Dearborn has decided to join in on the long-standing tradition of exhibitionism that is the "Naked Mile." On Tuesday, May 13th, UMD held its first annual "Nude Kilometer."
"For me, it was all about the kids," said Health and Safety Instructor Paul Lapp, who coordinated the event. "I know from personal experience how liberating it is to just let everything hang out. To run with only the wind on your body. I wanted the students to experience that, too. And Dean Daniels was totally supportive of the idea."
"I was drunk," said School of Management Dean Jack Daniels. "Paul showed up at my house at ten o'clock one night with a bottle of Peach Schnapps and two shot glasses. I woke up eighteen hours later with a splitting headache and a pile of forms I had no memory of signing."
With the green light from the administration, Lapp quickly arranged the event, promoting the run with sign-up sheets around campus. The campaign immediately attracted the attention of the student body, three of whom ended up participating in the nude sprint.
"I was told this was a charity event," said participant Randall Bishop, who saw a flyer for the run while exiting his weekly Chess Club meeting. "I didn't find out until afterwards that it wasn't."
Adding to Bishop's already uncomfortable experience of public nudity was an incident that occurred near the end of the sprint, on the sidewalk between the Science Building and the Mardigian Library. One of the campus' many Canadian geese suddenly charged the running student and attacked him with its bill.
"The pain...The pain is indescribable to anyone who has not experienced it," said Bishop, who refused to disclose the exact location or nature of the injury. "It wasn't just a bite – it was a violation. Those animals should be permanently banned from campus."
"Yeah, poor Randy got pecked by a goose," Lapp said. "He was a trooper, though. He handled it really well. We tried just treating the bite with an ice pack, but finally had to call an ambulance for him."
"We're not really sure why they called us," said Emergency Medical Technician Laura Cross. "There was nothing wrong with that boy – at least not physically."
At Bishop's request, an attempt was made to capture the offending animal, to determine whether it might be carrying rabies. Campus Security officers surrounded the entire flock of geese near the Engineering Lab Building. However, efforts to isolate the attacker from its comrades failed.
"The suspects were uncooperative," said Campus Security Officer Bill Cuff.
According to Nature Center Activities Coordinator Donald Mallard, there was never any need to catch or quarantine the creature in the first place.
"Geese do not get rabies," he said. "That kid is a moron."
Fortunately, not all of the Nude Km's participants shared Bishop's negative experience. Sophomore Carrie Freeman, the only female runner, was enthusiastic about the event.
"It was so cool," she said. "Like, ten guys asked me for my number! Only, I didn't have a pen on me..."
Braving the rainy weather, onlookers gathered all around campus to cheer on the sprinters.
"We had a good crowd," said Lapp. "More than we were expecting, so it was great."
"About twenty people showed up," said Sociology major Bridget Skinner, "probably mostly out of morbid curiosity. It's so pathetic, what some people will do just to get on camera."
Psychology major Sharon Pavlov expressed a similar distaste for the event.
"It was sad," she said. "Those people are so damaged."
Senior runner Mark Slide, however, showed no regret regarding his own participation.
"Who cares?" he said. "I'm graduating in, like, two weeks. It's not like I ever have to see these people again."
Another senior, spectator Tom Peep, shared a similarly relaxed view of the proceedings.
"I saw boobs. I went home happy. End of story," he said.
Despite mixed response from students and staff, Lapp remained hopeful about the future of the Nude Kilometer.
"We drew a good crowd this year," he said. "Next year, we hope to do even better. Get the word out, get more kids involved in the fun."
"As long as I remain Dean of the School of Management, this event will never take place again," said Daniels. "I've been stone cold sober for twenty-eight days now, and I'm not looking back."