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Polar Bear Run - University of Chicago - Streaking in January

Don't get mauled by the bear mascot!

In the early years of the event, some streakers wanted to run naked with real polar bears, as a way to raise awareness of the bear's shrinking population. Unfortunately the event organizers sided with a small but vocal group of safety-minded students, and have been using a polar bear mascot ever since.
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Find out when and where people shed their clothes to celebrate the freedom of the body and spirit.
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Get Ready. Get Set. Get Naked!

Since 1983, the coldest day in January sees more than 100 male and female students of the university shed their clothes and then run - as quickly as possible, one would imagine - from one end of the campus to the other. Typically this means from the Harper building to the gates in front of the Regenstein Library. Some of the students go completely naked complete with bodypaint, while others are left in various states of undress.

The run itself is a short-lived event as the entire running distance is approximately 150 yards and can be over in less than a couple of minutes. Because of this, anyone hoping to catch a glimpse - or shoot a few pictures - is encouraged to arrive early. Start times vary from year to year, so aim to be there for 8:00am and be prepared to hang around in the cold for as long as necessary. Dressing warm and bringing a thermos of hot chocolate probably wouldn't hurt, either :-)

The naked run is considered part of the school's Kuviasungnerk winter festival and it's believed to have come about not only as a celebration for the semester's end but to also help boost everyone's spirit during the dark and harsh winter - and Chicago definitely has its share of those!

The actual day varies from year to year but is usually sometime closer to the end of the month. Participation remains somewhat steady and tons of students - with cameras and video cameras in hand - come out to watch and support the runners.


While many choose to run naked, others choose to run topless but keep their panties on, and others wear nothing but a hat and sunglasses (a disguise maybe?). The polar bear who runs with everyone does so wearing nothing but a scarf.

Although nudity is not legal, so be cautious. Due to the "tradition" and the fact that the event doesn't last for more than a few minutes, the police seem to be fairly tolerant and do not interfere.


Members of the public are normally allowed to enter and pass through the area. However anyone older than the average student may be frowned-upon for pulling out a video camera. That said, the event does receive a fair amount of coverage and cell phone, digital and video cameras are visible. As with any of these types of events, it's always best to be cautious and respectful.



Polar Bear Run 2006  Posted January 2006 50 images (LARGE) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2006
It's one way to deal with the pressures of studying!
Polar Bear Run 2008  Posted January 2008 20 images (LARGE) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2008
The run started a bit late but Tarzan still got some great shots!
Polar Bear Run 2009  Posted January 2009 50 images (HUGE) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2009
A little cold can never ruin a school's traditions!
Polar Bear Run 2009  Posted February 2009 75 images (HUGE) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2009
The final installment of Tarzan's Chicago nude student run!
Polar Bear Run 2010  Posted February 2010 100 images (Hi-Res) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2010
The mild weather brought out a LOT of students!
Polar Bear Run 2011  Posted January 2011 71 images (Hi-Res) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2011
Mainly guys, but our female viewers won't mind!
Polar Bear Run 2011  Posted February 2011 25 images (Hi-Res) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2011
And the nude-student dash sadly comes to an end.
Polar Bear Run 2012  Posted January 2012 25 images (Hi-Res) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2012
The students - and Tarzan - braved extremely cold temperatures.
Polar Bear Run 2012  Posted January 2012 23 images (Hi-Res) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2012
Undress. Run fast. Get out of the cold.
Polar Bear Run 2013  Posted February 2013 30 images (Hi-Res) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2013
Tarzan hung in and got the shots despite a malfunctioning camera.
Polar Bear Run 2015  Posted February 2015 45 images (Hi-Res) Carnival
Tarzan  - Polar Bear Run 2015
A little less actual nudity this year but more pics are coming.