The Naked Mile



Linda Wertheimer, Noah Adams
All Things Considered (National Public Radio), 4-21-1998


NOAH ADAMS, HOST: And I'm Noah Adams.

Today is the final day of spring classes at the University of Michigan, and that means, tonight, there will be another running of the Naked Mile.

It's now a rite of spring in Ann Arbor, students running a mile across campus in the buff. Last year, there were about 1,000 runners and about 10,000 spectators. Police are warning the Naked Mile runners about the possibility of rowdy crowds, groping, even video cameras.

Holly Myszenski is a senior. She'll be running tonight with other members of her rugby team.

HOLLY MYSZENSKI, SENIOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN AT ANN ARBOR: This is a tradition here at the University of Michigan. Every day, on the last day of classes, the students get together and they run.

It's usually senior students -- are the majority of runners. I mean, traditionally, but -- you know, sophomores and juniors run it as well. And since, this year, on the rugby team we had so many graduating seniors, we've kind of been planning it for like the last week.

We have this whole plan down. We're -- our banquet is tonight as well, our senior banquet. It's all very fancy clothing. It's being held in one of the university buildings. It's all very swanky.

And we're going to go, leave the banquet early, put some body paint on, paint our chests so that it says "Michigan Rugby." On the back, we have -- paint our numbers. And we're going to leave all of our clothing in my car so that it doesn't get stolen.

And we're going to run up to South University in Washtaw.

And make our run down to the Administration Building, which is where it ends. And my car should be right over there, so we can get our stuff.

ADAMS: Did anybody on your rugby team say no, I don't think we should do this, this is a bad idea?

MYSZENSKI: Oh, yeah. I mean, it's optional. There are actually quite a few seniors who aren't running it, who feel uncomfortable.

There's about seven or eight of us who are running.

ADAMS: Well, here's the question then. Those on the rugby team who are not going to run, are they going to go watch?

MYSZENSKI: Probably. I don't know. We're going to have banquet, which is right there at the union, so you can actually watch the Naked Mile. You know, people running by 'cause the route takes you through the university buildings.

It's like -- the feeling on the street is very much a feeling of celebration because, like, you're done with school. It's all over.

People come out from all over the town to watch and cheer you on. And it's just a feeling of celebration.

And you run through all your old haunts, like "how many hours have I spent in the computer center?" So, you take a little detour and take a jog through there. And how many hours have you spent in the library? And you take an extra jog through there. It's kind of like your last chance to reminisce and celebrate.

ADAMS: How fast do you think they'll be running?

MYSZENSKI: Oh, well, it really depends on the crowds, to be honest with you. We're going to try and go earlier so we can stick together as a team. In the past, what happens is the crowds tend to crowd in and so it really becomes less of a run and more of a walk.

The crowds press the runners into like almost a single-file line so you can't really run, 'cause there are people in front of you and you're packed so tightly, like sardines.

And that's one of the big nervous points for a lot of the police, and there's been a student activist group on campus that has petitioned to like have student volunteers there so that people don't get grabbed by the onlookers. And just to make it safer and make it run for everyone.

ADAMS: Yeah, but the campus police are saying that women are putting themselves into a dangerous situation, being out there. There could be sexual assaults.

MYSZENSKI: Well, yeah. But once again, like I said with rugby team, that's why we're running in a group of women. You know, eight or nine of us together. It feels more secure that way.

ADAMS: What about the idea that somebody would be there with a video camera and those images could wind up on the Internet?

MYSZENSKI: Yeah, that's true. It's one of those things that you can't really do anything about, I guess. But I've made the decision that I want to celebrate, you know, having graduated through here.

And how many times do you get the opportunity to run naked through a city you've just toiled four years to get your degree from and not get arrested? It's like a very freeing sense, at least in my perspective.

ADAMS: Thank you, Miss Myszenski.


ADAMS: Good luck to you tonight.

MYSZENSKI: Thank you.

ADAMS: Holly Myszenski is a senior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.