TV & Movies

Meet the Woman Who Runs Penises

San Francisco–based copywriter and comedian Claire Wyckoff makes running fun—one phallus at a time

Penis Running MapClaire Wyckoff, 33, is a reluctant exerciser. “I’m not a person that actually enjoys the physical act of running,” says the San Francisco copywriter and former improv comedian on the phone. She does enjoy the results, though. “It de-stresses me. I’m so much less of a bitch when I run.” To make the act of running less of a bitch, however, she decided to distract herself. Using her Nike+ app, she started running penis-shaped routes all over the city. She shared her first run on Facebook and Instagram and later started a Tumblr called Running Drawing. Here, Wyckoff talks to FLARE about her phallic hobby, preferred running gear and why she thinks women are funnier than men.

When did you start running drawing?
I started doodling the running drawing about six weeks ago.

What made you decide to do it in the first place?
I looked at my phone after a run one day—the app draws a line where you ran using GPS—and I thought I saw the shape of a dog. The humorist in me was like ‘well, that’s just funny!’ I’ll do anything for a joke, including running dogs on the street, so I did it and some of my friends thought it was pretty funny, so I kept it going.

You started with a dog…
…and I think the next one was the penis. I didn’t waste any time. I headed straight for the top. Really highbrow stuff!

What’s the process? How do you run a penis?
I’ll look at a map and see if anything jumps out at me. Other times I’ll go in with an idea—like a penis or a middle finger—and I’ll plot it out on a map and see if it works. I’ll use a run mapping tool and draw it.

How does it feel to jog a penis? Are you aware of the design when you run?
Oh, yeah. A penis is a delicate thing that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The shape is really important. It can so quickly not look like a penis or look weird. We’ll [Wyckoff runs with her husband] run and look at the thing as we go and kind of say, ‘what detail needs to be there?’ The details are the funniest parts. It’s not that you ran a penis; it’s that you took the time to shape the head and the hole…the details give it its gravitas.

How long have you been running?
Off and on for 10 years. There was a period where I wasn’t running that often. Here’s what it is: when I’m not feeling fat, I’m not running. Then when I feel fat, I become an avid runner.

Has running drawing invigorated running for you?
Oh, yeah. Everyone should do this. You’re just trying to complete the drawing and it totally takes your mind off the run. You have a new motivation. It invigorates you.

Any designs you want to do in the future?
There’s been a lot of vagina requests. I appreciate them, but vaginas aren’t as funny to me.

It might get controversial. You’ll have to decide whether it’s a Brazilian or au naturel…
Yeah, then it becomes a statement about feminism, and I think a woman running pictures of dicks is inherently a statement about feminism. I like that statement a bit more, but I might just have to give in and run something female. I think breasts would be easier. Boobs—even the word ‘boobs’ is funnier. I’ll probably go to Marin County. It’s easier to find boob shapes in the mountains than on the hardened streets of San Francisco.

Are you a fashionable runner or are you a gym-clothes runner?
I’m a gym-rat kind of runner. I have hot pink shoes I found at Nordstrom Rack and black leggings. I work in advertising, and I often get comfy American Apparel swag T-shirts through work. I tend to run in those.

What are you planning to do now?
I want to do more comedy. I want to write for people. My ultimate goal would be to keep on creating more stuff that gets shared. That would allow me to get paid to be a comedian. My next thought is to do a Kickstarter, but call it Dickstarter and raise money to create an app that helps people find pictures in the street. I’ve also been reaching out to a bunch of running clubs in San Francisco. I want to see if we can get into the Guinness Book of World Records to have the most people run a shape at once: to get like a 1,000 people to run a penis or something like that.

What’s your dream comedy job?
I would love to write for Amy Schumer or Portlandia. Or Chelsea Handler. Tina Fey, too. I f-cking love lady comics. I think they’re doing a great service to the world and young women. I’m going off on a tangent, but I think a lot of stuff has changed in the past 10 years and women are proving they’re funnier than men.