THE HISTORY OF THE NAKED MILE
By Torin Dewey
I just thought I would chime in on the history of the naked mile. I doubt that many people know how the naked mile started. In the spring of 1986, in a household at 411 E. William St, lived eight students- four males & four females: Torin Dewey, Steve Gayner, Mike Ingram, Doug Krause, Karin Papes, Beth Ingram, Beth Cravens and Anne Fitzpatrick.
They called the household The Oasis - amongst the eight were a couple of Michigan Crew members (Beth & Karin), and a couple track/cross-country runners (Doug & Steve).
Well, one drunken night Doug and Steve were heading back from a downtown Ann Arbor bar and Steve dared Doug to walk home (about five blocks) with his pants down at his ankles. Doug obliged and it was that walk that bore the idea to run naked through campus.
It was to start a couple blocks past Washtenaw on South University, and finish on the front porch of the Oasis. The original plan was to do this on the Saturday after the last day of classes at midnight.
I recall hearing of the plans, but had gotten the flu a few days earlier and was in bed about 11:45pm when I was awoken to head over to the starting point. It was primarily crew and track people who had been informed of the run. It wound up starting at a crew member's house, but I can't remember which person.
Jane Esselstyn (also a crew member) drove the car which had all the runners clothes. A couple minutes after midnight everyone threw their clothes into her car and took off running down South Umiversity towards campus. They were heading west at the time. There were 12 runners in all (10 men & 2 women).
I rode a bicycle at the front of the procession carrying a boom box blasting away the music from Chariots of Fire.
Very few people had advance notice of the run so there was only a couple of people on the diag. I distinctly remember there being a flash right in the middle of the diag. The runners went down south University, turned into central campus and headed for the Oasis.
I'm sure there are several people, who still live in town, that would be able to corroborate these facts if you have any doubts.
This second report was filed by original miler Jim O'Reilly
I also ran in the original Naked Mile (we actually called it the "Nude Mile" if I remember correctly). The account you have of the event from Torin Dewey is quite accurate according to my memory.
At the time I was a sophomore living in a house on Arch street with some guys on the track team who should be added to the list of original "milers" - Tony Galang and Dan Smith. Marty Newingham, another housemate, was present but was wearing a cast (from Achilles tendon surgery) and was not able to run, but instead road a bike along side us.
As I remember it, Dave Meyer won the "race". I knew Gerard Donakowski pretty well (he lived with my older brother when he was a student at U of M) and I don't remember him being there that night, but this is getting to be a long time ago and I was a bit inebriated - so I could very well be wrong about that.
I do clearly remember posing for a picture with the other participants on the front steps of the "Oasis" house at the end and I think some folks may have taken pictures as we ran through the Diag as well. So, somewhere there are pictures to document this historic event and confirm the identity of the original 12.
I would like say I ran to make a statement or even because I thought it would be fun (it did turn out to be a blast) - but the fact is that I did it so I would not be branded as a coward by my housemates. Tony and I were studying together over at the Business School Library that night and so I could not have claimed that it slipped my mind to show up.
We walked over to an address we had been given, expecting the thing to start inside a house. When we got there, the house was dark but one of the instigators was sitting in a car parked in the street with a keg of beer in back. After consuming a bit of "liquid courage" while waiting for folks to show up, we simply stripped down in the street and took off.
I remember running down the middle of South U with a few people cheering us on, running through the Diag, past the art museum and then down State to Williams street. At the time, it was certainly one of the most fun things I have ever done - a great way to end the semester and an enduring wonderful memory from my time in Ann Arbor.
Jim O'Reilly - Amherst, Mass
EVEN MORE HISTORY!
This is Original Miler Tony Galang's Recollection -
FYI, we called it the "Nude" Mile. I was on the Michigan Track Team from '83 to '86. Steve Gaynor and Doug Krause were a couple guys on the track team, were good friends with each other, and had a great sense of humor. They "streaked" one time on their own a few weeks before the actual Nude Mile and were telling everyone on the team what a riot it was! They told us of a party the crew team was having at a house on Linden (I think), just North of Washtenaw, the evening of the last day of classes. They invited anyone who wanted to come along, to have some beer and then run naked for about a one-mile course through campus, finishing at the Oasis.
I told a few people about it, so they were waiting along South University and they told a bunch of people at Good Time Charlies (they have a large window that faces South University) what was going on. One of them thought it would be funny to bring a few eggs along to hurl at us as we went by. All the runners had a few beers to work their courage up, and at midnight we began to get undressed down to our running shoes. A few people even ran barefoot. Our plan was to split up if confronted by any random law enforcement. Given that we were on the track team, we figured that a cop couldn't run one of us down and we could somehow make it back to our individual houses. Amongst the guys, we admitted that the girls would probably be the ones to get caught, since they were slower and the cops would most likely be heterosexuals! We threw our clothes into Jane Esselstyn's car (Jane called it the "Underwear Car") and took off.
I remember there being more bystanders than what I read in the other recollections. My "friend" threw his eggs, which all missed. It was a pretty exhilarating run being entirely naked! I must admit that I looked back a couple times to get a view of the two crew girls - not bad looking if I remember - TRUE BRUNETTES! They were holding hands as they ran. There were people lining the windows at Charlies, actually banging on the windows as we ran by. A few students held their hands over their mouths as we went by. Cars were honking their horns. As we veered right to go through the Engineering Arch, I remember a guy dropping his backpack, almost crouching down slightly, and putting his arms up as if to say "What in the hell is going on?" After all, when's the last time you were walking home from the library and 12 naked people were running right at you?
We went through the Diag, past Angell Hall, past a good amount of traffic, and then on to the Oasis. Jane was dutifully there with our clothes, cursing that she should have done it with us. Jane was well endowed, so she said she would have done it if someone had some Saran Wrap she could use as a makeshift bra! Later, I saw my friends and it was "high fives" everywhere, along with comments that they wished they had done it too. And so the Nude Mile was born!
Original Naked Miler Erik Koskinen provides us with this version of events-
In the spring of 1986, my freshmen year at Michigan, I was persuaded by several teammates on the track team to run nude through campus.
The idea was that of graduate athletes named Dave Meyer and a former Michigan all-American athlete named�Gerard Donakowski, along with several of their friends from the crew team.
We had several planned runs for late Saturday evenings in April that year, but poor weather conditions forced us to wait. Finally the last Saturday of the termit was a go.
We began about midnight from the corner of South U. and Washtenaw. There were 12 people that ran that year, including 2 women from the crew team. Of the 12, eleven were drunk. Unfortunately, I was the sober one.
The following Monday, there was a short blurb in the Michigan Daily about some students reviving the 1970's craze of streaking (you can look this up for verification).
I can only remember a handful of names of the original runners, mostly other track athletes. Gerard Donakowski and Dave Meyer who I mentioned earlier, and two other teammates Rollie Hudson and Doug Krause. Plus the 3 or 4 crew team members.
We ended that first run on William near the Cottage Inn. We were all celebrating our daring adventure doing a sort of group hug in the front yard when an Ann Arbor cop drove right by, oblivious to the mass of squirming nudity.
The next year 1987, 25 or so people showed up. But alas, no women. I can't blame them since it was cold that year.
In 1988 we had nude mile shirts available for sale (made by another former all-American Dan Heikkinen), and 50 people or so showed up to run. That year we had 7 or 8 female athletes from the track team join us.
Unfortunately for them, their clothing transport vehicle got hung up in traffic for about 15 minutes after the end of the run.
By this time the Ann Arbor police were aware of us and were actively trying to stop us. In fact our track coaches said that if we were arrested, there was a possibility that any scholarship money we received could be taken away. It certainly wasn't the silly all comers event that it seems to be now.
By 1989, my senior year, we had close to 100 runners, most of whom I didn't know.
HISTORICAL REPORTS JUST KEEP ON COMING...
This recollection of the first Naked Mile is provided courtesy of Edmund Baumgartner (also an original miler.)
In the interest of historical accuracy the first Nude Mile began from the park on the corner of Walnut and South University (which was in front of the Nuthouse whose members later lived in Sly Eu's Party Crib). We cruised down South Univ. cut across the Diag (I think we posed for a photo on the steps of the Grad library) and then finished up at the Oasis of Fun.