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Tufts prepares for naked track meet

Published: Sunday, April 1, 2001

Updated: Sunday, August 17, 2008 16:08

Though my column is not typically supposed to focus on Tufts sports, this week I can't help but discuss the biggest annual sporting event on campus, which is slated for the first night of reading period. This track meet is bigger than any football or basketball game and more "athletes" and fans participate or cheer from the sidelines than at any other Tufts sporting event. Like all Tufts sporting events, this run has both spectators and participants. However, it differs from other sports in one fundamental area - uniforms - or lack thereof. Of course, this track meet to which I refer is the Naked Quad Run.

Experiences in this meet, as in any sporting event, vary. There are the old pros who will be competing in the meet for the fourth and final time, and there are also the rookies. The beauty about this athletic competition is that anyone can compete, and one does not even have to train to have a successful performance.

According to junior Marissa Simonelli, a former cheerleader who will be making her debut next week, she has long intended to participate but situations out of her control have prevented her from doing so. "This sounds ridiculous but I had the flu both years so far," Simonelli said. "No joke."

But healthy this year, Simonelli is already planning her strategy for the big race. "I'd probably try to start in the front," Simonelli said. "I'm not a fast runner so I'd end up in the back by the end anyways."

As a former cheerleader Simonelli has been in attendance at many Tufts sporting events and in her opinion, none can compare to the fanfare or drama surrounding the Naked Quad Run. "It seems like ten times as many people go to the quad run compared to a football or basketball game," she said. "Also, people don't really videotape the other sporting events."

While, Simonelli will be competing for the first time, Maggie Danielson, a junior and a member of the varsity crew team plans to run for the second consecutive year. Her decision to run again may come as somewhat of a surprise as she had a painful debut last year.

"Well, it happened right at the beginning [of the race]," Danielson said. "Everyone was in the basement of West and we busted out the doors and those really nice DU boys decided it would be funny if they tripped people right when they first came out. I fell flat on my face, naked and the only thought that went through my mind was total fear. I was sure I was going to be trampled to death."

Luckily, for Danielson, one of her greatest attributes as an athlete is her heart. Thus, it should be no surprise that despite a bloody elbow and knee, she was able to regroup and managed to get right back on her feet. "There was no turning back," Danielson said. "I actually ran two laps, the second one was with only one shoe. I lost it on the first lap."

As a veteran athlete, Danielson has the experience to offer some perspective about the Run and also a few suggestions about alterations in other Tufts sports. "I feel honored and privileged to be part of such a honorable tradition, and its great because you are automatically on varsity," Danielson said. "Even freshman can run with the big boys."

"As for the uniform policy of the other sports at tufts, the attendance at the games would be incredible if clothing was not permitted," she said.

Sophomore JR Urbon, a baseball player, has never participated in the event but enjoyed watching it last year. "[Last year], I was just interested in the observation part of it," he said. "Watching a Tufts basketball game is an overall nice experience, but the naked quad run is more hyped and just funny."

Urban is currently contemplating becoming a naked runner next week but says it will be a game time decision. "I guess I'll make it a last minute decision," Urbon said. "It really depends on how I feel that night." But whether he is a competitor or a fan, there is no doubt that Urbon will be at the quad for the meet.

While most Tufts athletes embrace the Naked Quad Run, some, such as senior equestrian team member Sindia Taylor are not completely enamored with the tradition. In fact, in her three full years, Taylor has been to only one run and remembers very little from the experience.

"Well I don't remember a whole lot cause I was very disoriented," Taylor said. "But I remember seeing this guy wearing a huge Afro wig run by and thought, 'what the f...'"

Upon further questioning, it became clear that Taylor does not appreciate the meet as much as others do for two fundamental reasons, fear of nakedness and lack of similarity between equestrian and naked running.

"It's hard enough to get naked in front of one person," Taylor said. "Throw in a couple thousand more and there's no chance in hell."

However, Taylor did offer a few suggestions on improving the naked track meet, though its unclear if she would support nakedness at an equestrian show to increase fan support. "Fanfare at an equestrian show is usually mostly parents which would be weird at the naked quad run," she said. "Plus most of the people there are running around waving whips and wearing spurs and various leather items which I think the quad run could probably benefit from."

Whether you are planning to watch, run or sit at home contemplating the relationship between your sport and the Naked Quad Run, remember that no high profile Div. I College football or basketball game can compare with the spectacle that will be Tuesday night, right here, at Tufts University. And most importantly, don't ever let anyone tell you that you go to a school that isn't passionate about its sports. As you will see on Tuesday night, we love our Tufts Sports. Let's go Jumbos.

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