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Sreeni Nair (on left) was given the community nickname 'Naked Running Man.'

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Less Is More

Pennington's 'Naked Running Man' Unique Hobby Brings Unexpected Joy To Community

One cold morning in 2021, Kelly Budny-Kolbjornsen waited with her son at the bus stop, when a man ran down the street in only a pair of shorts. Dubbed the "Naked Running Run," Sreeni Nair soon had all of Pennington talking.

Sreeni wasn't trying to be noticed – he was just doing what he enjoys, says the self-described "nonconformist" and “very quiet person.” “I don’t really care what people think about me,” he explains. Sreeni started running in 2011 after reading a book about tackling a 10K, an "unthinkable distance" to him then. Intrigued, he followed the program and ran his first 10K 13 weeks later.

Running became part of his morning routine. Finding himself in a hurry one day, he wore fewer layers. “It was a good accident," he says. "I found I ran better with less clothing.” Running without music or water – just himself – helps him stay present. “I like the sound of my feet and the sound of nature,” he says. “When I run on the road, I recognize many cars I see every day, and people wave.”

On Feb. 6, 2021, Kelly launched the Naked Running Man Fan Club with a Facebook page @NakedRunningManFanClub, after working with Sreeni to create T-shirts to donate to a local organization of his choice. Owner of Etsy shops Crafttastic and VIP (Very Important Parties), with a background in hospitality, Kelly set community connections in motion. Within 24 hours, they sold 128 shirts. Within a month, they sold 350. Altogether, the team raised $1,770 for Homefront and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Spaces.

Merchandise soon expanded to include tumbler mugs, can coolers and face masks. ”It was during the pandemic, so people wanted to see something good, something different,” Sreeni surmises.

The team also collaborated with Hopewell Valley Mobile Food Pantry, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), Womenspace, EASEL and Anchor House, raising nearly $7,000. TASK was, perhaps, the organization "nearest and dearest to Sreeni’s heart," says Kelly, explaining how they toured the facility, learning how TASK ensures its patrons are treated respectfully and provided self-sufficiency support.

Ironically, one man's desire for less has led to much more. In addition to fundraising, Sreeni and Kelly have become close. "My kids adore him," she says. "He's become a friend of the family."

It’s clear the entire community feels the same. "My biggest cheerleaders have been the school kids, and I really enjoy that," he says. "This brings me joy and makes me happy, so I continue to do it."

On Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, the "Naked Running Man" team, led by Sreeni and Kelly, will participate in Homefront’s upcoming Halloween 5K.

This NRM team collaborated with Hopewell Valley Mobile Food Pantry, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), Womenspace, EASEL, and Anchor House, raising nearly $7,000.

  • Sreeni Nair (on left) was given the community nickname 'Naked Running Man.'
  • Sreeni Nair enjoys running in winter as well.
  • Kelly Budny-Kolbjornsen and Sreeni Nair
  • Sreeni Nair