Categorized | Featured, Running, Sports

Ironman: Runners take (it) off for charity in Underpants Run

Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247 Contributing Editor

Any other day, this could get you arrested. But when it’s the Underpants Run, you can get away with going out in public looking like this.

Some 400 athletes and a variety of exhibitionists joined in the 12th annual fundraiser Thursday morning to blow off a little steam ahead of Saturday’s Ironman World Triathlon Championship.

The Underpants Run got its start more than a decade ago when locals decided they needed a way to poke fun at European triathletes strolling around town in their Speedos.

The goofy little pre-race tradition now is spectator event in its own right.

“I think it’s pretty cool. My dad runs in it every year,” said Kyle Johnson, of Carlsbad, Calif.

Johnson said he even picked a favorite outfit, although not one he would ever actually wear.

“That guy who just ran by in the zebra stripe shorts with the pink lace trim. A little funky.”

Ann McCormack was out to support her husband David, who first competed in Kona 22 years ago and is back for his 10th race.

“If you are here, it’s one of the things you just have to experience,” said the Melbourne resident. “Everybody’s letting off steam and it benefits charity, so it’s fun”

Julie Dukes’ mom and biggest cheerleader said there is nothing like this back home in Annapolis, Md.

“It’s very interesting to say the least,” she said. “It gets everyone in a good spirit.”

Ian Mickelson, of Torrance, Calif. certainly was in good spirits.

“This is just for the fun of it. There’s not too many other days in the year I can do this,” said Mickelson, who will be competing in the 25-29 age group. “It took a good couple of days to put it all together.”

For the record, he was wearing blue and yellow running shoes, a pair of knee-high tube socks with rainbow stripes, light blue and pink paisley Speedos, (“the more pink the better”), a Shaun Cassidy blonde mullet wig and a pair of sunglasses he probably borrowed from the C.H.I.P.S. wardrobe department.

“Yeah, well, Eric Estrada looked good in these,” he said.

“The world championship is a very important race for these guys,” said Paul Huddle, retired triathlete and an Underpants Run organizer. “This is just a fun way to release some of the pre-race tension. It’s just 400 triathletes out protesting the wearing of underwear around town.”

Just then, two Elvis’ (or is that Elvi?) cruised past.

“And if you’ve got one Elvis, you’re good,” Huddle said. “We’re really lucky to have two here today.”

Also among the organizers is Paula Newby-Fraser, the eight-time world champion and legendary Queen of Kona.

“This event just takes the edge off,” she said. “Ironman is very intense, but this lightens it up ahead of the race.

Sponsors donated boxes of compression socks, underwear, visors and T-shirts, which were sold to raise more than $5,000 for local charities, including Special Olympics West Hawaii.

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