It's a Meredith institution. At the end of every festival, when the drinks are low and the nerves are shot, throngs of people volunteer to strip off and race each other naked. It's called the Meredith Gift and it's pretty weird, but also really, really popular. Most festivals are dead by late afternoon on a Sunday. Not Meredith. It's like everyone sticks around just to see the naked race then clear out soon as it's over. So what's the appeal? For the competitors, as well the audience? To find out we walked around and asked.
(From right) Maddy, 28, Zoe, 21, Celia, 21
Noisey: Very nice to meet all of you. Why are we watching this?
Maddy: My boyfriend is running. If he has a good time then it's fine with me. If he's not embarrassed, why should I be embarrassed?
That's a good position to take. What do you think Celia?
Celia: I just think that it's really funny to see everyone be naked and free and not care about stuff that they usually care about. Also I think it's weird we wear clothes anyway.
Is it funny at all?
Not funny, it's just like it's free, I think it's nice to watch. I feel happy, like I don't know why. I think it's cute. It's like sweet.
So how come you're not in it?
Because I'm volunteering at the moment
Would you be in it if you weren't volunteering?
Yeah I'd love to
Zoe, what would you think?
Zoe: What do I think? I'm watching it partly because I'm already here, and partly because it will be funny. It's just funny
Casey Taylor, 25
So Casey, you just competed. Why?
Casey Taylor: Because I'm really competitive. I'm a sports teacher so I just like competition. And it's quite liberating too I guess, being naked.
Did you win?
What was the secret to winning?
Just smoked heaps of ciggies last night.
Yeah, that and you've got to be rough. Like in the heat I was just pushing girls out of the way.
How was it getting undressed in front of everyone?
At the start everyone was like pretty nervous, then a couple of confident girls were taking their gear off and everyone was like, fuck yeah, gear off! It felt liberating. Especially on a hot day you feel so free, then once you walk into a crowd of full-clothed people, you feel weird again.
Hey Hugo, you're about to compete. Why?
Hugo: Because it's exactly the kind of thing I want to do. It's just the freedom of people running naked. When do you get the chance to do that.
It's funny I've asked a few people this question, and the thing about freedom keeps coming up. Are we too repressed?
Definitely. I'm a naked kind of guy but I wouldn't get naked in public, just because I don't want to make people uncomfortable. You know what I mean.
Have you got a statement to give to people who cover up?
Yeah that's fine, just let me be naked.
Madison, 26 as of today.
Hey Madison, happy birthday!
Madison: Thanks mate
So why are we watching this?
Well I don't really like getting naked so I think it's impressive other people do in front of so many people.
Is this hot?
Hot, like sexy? Nah, I don't think there's anything sexual anything about it. It's just fun and sporty.
Is it the bouncing that stops it being sexy?
Nah, I don't think it's the bouncing. Maybe it's just the fact it's end of the festival and everyone's feeling a bit seedy.
My last question is what have you learned during this?
People are pretty brave and tough.
Hi Aphelia, why are you watching this?
My friend is doing it. And I love the communal freedom. There's something really humble about it.
Based on that, what does the perfect world look like?
Naked people. I reckon it's fucking awesome, but yeah we're too afraid of our naked bodies.
But you're wearing clothes.
I was going to do it. But I'm just feeling like, too hungover. Maybe next year.
Do you think men and women are drawn to this event for different reasons?
Yeah. There's always some kind of dominance thing with males being naked. I think more for woman, personally for me, it would be about feeling comfortable in my body and doing it for me. Maybe guys do it as a like pact thing.
So what word would you use to describe this?
What word? It's hard not to just think about butts. And celebrating.
Jimmy Rye, 35
Jimmy Rye, why did you do this?
This is the eleventh time I've done it. I was going to retire but my friends make me do it and I love it.
Why do you love it?
I'm an exhibitionist, I love people looking at me. I love the attention.
Do you have an attention seeking job?
I'm an arborist.
Cool job. Do you think there's there an element of sex about this?
Absolutely, yeah. Especially when you talk to the naked women before the race. That's beautiful man. There's a lot of sexual tension, it's great.
Can you give me a particular anecdote?
Well I had great rapport with one woman once but I couldn't get her phone number. I didn't have my phone on me.
Has it ever worked out afterwards?
Ah no, it hasn't. I haven't seen them since but you live to fight another day.
Tell me what it's like running naked?
It feels ohhh—It's the freedom. The wind on your dick it's amazing, nothing like it. But one guy slapped me on the dick on the way round. Sabotage.
Alright, what's your message for people who wouldn't do this?
Do it. You come out so much more confident.
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