For a little over three years, Claire has been running the streets in the shape of dicks. The 33-year-old New Jerseyan says it started as an accident on Thanksgiving 2015 when she visited her brother in Kansas City, went for a run, and got lost. Claire eventually found her way back, tracing a roundabout route through the streets of the city’s east. But looking back at her GPS tracker she noticed something. Sketched out on a map, her course almost perfectly resembled the outline of an erect phallus—balls and all. Claire had unwittingly run her very first dick. And thus, @dick_run_claire was born.
“I love looking for dick run routes,” Claire tells me over email. “I feel like I should be on My Strange Addiction now that I’ve heard how that sounds… But honestly, I just love running: it’s my favourite way to get a workout in—and drawing a giant dick across a town is really just a bonus.”
Claire’s Instagram page is rife with dicks of various shapes and sizes: long dicks, short dicks, fat dicks, skinny dicks. Some of them have been detailed with veins, or wrinkly balls, or a hand wrapped around the shaft. And all of them have been “drawn” through Claire’s carefully-plotted running circuits; by turning at the right streets and going down roads she otherwise wouldn’t. Through years of experience, she’s become a self-proclaimed “master” at spotting penises on a map.
“I always plan out the dick runs and follow the route I’ve saved on my phone,” she says. “It’s actually kind of tough—especially the more detailed routes, like the ones with hands—and the worst is when I get caught up in a run, miss a turn, and ruin the drawing. Then I have to go back and do it again later.”
It’s a demanding hobby, this dick running business: especially when taking into account the full breadth of Claire’s extensive portfolio. Fortunately, there appears to be a real market for the stuff. At the time of writing, @dick_run_claire’s Instagram page boasts a little over 10,000 followers.
“I have like three friends in real life, and one of my followers is my dog,” she admits, “so basically all of the rest of them are from dick runs.”
There’s just something about a crudely drawn member, it seems, that really resonates with people. An artist should never rest on their laurels, though, and Claire’s recently been expanding her creative horizons to also include “twat trots”: her own aesthetic tribute to the female genitalia. Claire says she’s been trying to perfect the twat trot “FOREVER”, but always had difficulty in mapping it out correctly. As she points out, “Not a lot of roads converge to a vagina shape.” Then, in July last year, she realised her vision—and has since gone on to create several more. Now “everyone’s asking for boobs.”
Ever since that Kansas City Thanksgiving, Claire has slowly but surely turned dick running into a worldwide phenomenon. People from around the globe are sending her snapshots of their own phallic routes “all the time”, she says—prompting her to wonder “how many road dicks exist in this world?” It’s worth mentioning, though, that Claire herself is no dilettante. Her biggest dick run of all time clocked in at a whopping 14 miles—somewhere in Vermont while she was training for a marathon—and now she’s trying to “get one in each of the 50 US states.”
She does, however, encourage anyone and everyone to give the sport a go. “It’s fun planning them and it gets me out there on days that I would otherwise skip a run,” she says. “And you can do it literally anywhere. Obviously city grid systems are easy to come up with a drawing, but the best are the smaller towns and neighbourhoods. All you need is a keen eye!”
Some routes, she adds, have already been drawn for you. “When they have some kind of awesome detail, I can’t help but think that some town planning committee literally built that dick into their road system. Honestly, sometimes they’re so detailed and so obvious that I think someone did it on purpose.”
Words have been edited for the sake of clarity and brevity.
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This article originally appeared on VICE AU.