Disrobing the mysteries of the Naked Run

Naked Run, 2013
Katherine Velicki/Staff

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At 9:00 p.m. sharp on the evening of May 8, the pre-finals silence of Main Stacks was shoved aside by a stream of sweaty, jubilant and naked bodies. Rushing gleefully past the infinite bookshelves and focused nighttime studiers, these brave participants of Cal’s legendary semesterly Naked Run delivered a 30-minute rush of ecstasy to the halls of Moffitt. Zooming through Level B and ascending the infamous spiral staircase, the runners bathed in the glory of their temporary freedom and encouraged their clothed spectators to do the same, chanting, “Take off your clothes!” and “Ole ole ole ole … ole … ole!” as they crowded at the foot of the stairs. Gushing with vulnerability, heart-pounding excitement and, of course, hot bodies, the Naked Run is arguably Cal’s most invigorating and memorable tradition. But, luckily for those of you who couldn’t experience the magic in person this time, the Clog’s here to unveil a few secrets about this infamous event.

Was it cold?

We all know that Berkeley at night can be a pretty chilly place. And if we get cold even without our jackets, you’d think that running stark naked anywhere on campus would leave you absolutely frigid. Well, something about Main Stacks during the Naked Run defies this logic. Not a single runner was shivering, and even spectators were taking off their coats! Because a massive swarm of hot bodies obviously produces more warmth than Doe’s heating system does, we suggest that the engineering department incorporate this finding into a more “green” Berkeley thermostat.

Were you drunk?

Unveiling your naked body to a hoard of strangers can be pretty stressful, so the Clog wondered whether any runners took a shot or two before the big event to calm their nerves. While some participants may have slipped under our radar, we found that the vast majority did not drink at all before disrobing. One runner, a seven-time veteran of the Naked Run, explained that the “high” he gets from dashing completely nude through a library is all-consuming, and he would hate to taint the liberating experience with the fog of alcohol.

What’d you do with your clothes?

Completely unburdened during their journey, most of the runners showed no traces of having arrived to Main Stacks fully clothed. Naturally, we wondered where they stashed their garments. The Clog discovered three main strategies. The most prepared runners temporarily trusted their clothes to supportive friends in the spectator crowd. Slightly less confident in their friends, others donned backpacks containing their valuables during the run. Finally, the most spontaneous participants stowed their clothes randomly in corners of Main Stacks — we even spotted a pile of pants on the spiral staircase!

Were you afraid?

Most runners, attracted to the sense of community and exhilaration, did not seem to fear revealing their bodies to strangers. However, a number expressed concern about the pictures and videos taken by spectators during the event. Donning pirate masks, face paint and even paper bags, many runners dodged this risk and showcased their creativity at the Naked Run this year.

Would you do it again?

Whether a seven-time veteran or a senior crossing the Naked Run off her bucket list, everybody we talked to expressed a desire to do it again. The juxtaposition of intense, stoic studiers and carefree, jubilant naked bodies is something we’ll probably only experience during our years at Cal.

Regardless of whether you ever decide to participate in the Naked Run, the Clog encourages you to do something fun this week. We know you won’t study for the entire 216 hours of dead week. Try a new running route. Go see “The Great Gatsby.” Get lunch with a friend. As proven by the continuing tradition of the Naked Run, a little excitement can definitely enhance our studying and the quality of our dead week memories.

Contact Katherine Velicki at [email protected]

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