Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

If it’s Thursday in Kona, it’s the Underpants Run!


(Hawaii 24/7 photography by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

As the slogan says, it was Thursday and there were plenty of underpants on display along Alii Drive as the sun came up over Hualalai.

Just two days before the Ironman World Championship, more than 2,200 men, women, children, toddlers, babies and dogs gathered in the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel parking lot to take the Underpants Run oath, point and giggle, and take off on a 1.5-mile run.

Now in its 17th year, the fun run actually had a mission this year: Get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘largest gathering of people wearing only underpants/knickers.’

The record current was set by 2,270 hardy souls on Sept. 24, 2011 at the Utah Undie Run in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Guinness adjudicator Johanna Hessling came from her office in Manhattan, N.Y. to observe and verify the count.

“It’s a logistics thing, so we won’t have the results right away,” she said. “But this was one of those jobs where we had to put names in a hat and draw one. I won. It’s great to be here.”

Once all the athletes coughed up the $20 entry fee (which benefits Big Island nonprofits) and had their number bibs, complete with embedded microchips, pinned to their race-y outfits, it was time to actually run.


It took almost as long to get started as it did to finish, with the stragglers at the back of the pack prodded along by ‘Mr. Death.’ By the time the last of the runners left the parking lot, organizer Paul Huddle could be heard, shouting encouragement through a bullhorn and turning the corner back into the parking lot.

In addition to keeping the pace, Huddle was trying to pump up the numbers.

“Hey, all you people standing there taking photos,” he yelled, “drop your cameras and drop your pants. Get a number and get moving. Be a part of history!”

Once everyone had crossed the tracking mat and gathered back at the stage, it was time for some warm-down calisthenics.


This year’s guest calisthenics coach was Apolo Ohno, 8-time Olympic speedskater set to take on his first Ironman race this weekend.

Ohno, who has trained for nearly a year with the legendary Paula Newby-Fraser, said he has been touched by the warm welcome from Kona residents, triathletes and fans.

“I really don’t know what to expect, but it’s been great so far,” he said. “This is the most coveted endurance race in the world and I’m super excited to be here.”

But first he had to experience the Underpants Run.

“So many naked bodies,” he said. “Last time I did this, it was on a college campus and I got kicked off.’


While the final, official ruling has not yet been issued, Underpants leaders reported the preliminary count shows Thursday’s world record attempt came up about 50 people short.

Huddle said he wasn’t too disappointed and vowed to try again next year.

“It was a great try,” he said. “It’s just awesome, isn’t it?”


The Underpants Run started as a “protest run” to poke fun at athletes who seemed to wear their swim attire in all the wrong places, including restaurants, grocery stores and the post office.

Huddle, Chris Danahy and Tim Morris, nurtured it into an Ironman pre-event ice breaker that has become an integral part of the Ironman World Championship event week and a fundraiser that has given more than $200,000 to a variety of local nonprofit organizations.

As well as a rare opportunity to parade down Alii Drive in skivvies, the $20 entry fee donation gets each runner a choice of Headsweats hat or visor, Greenlayer T-shirt, Beaker Concepts socks or Wood Underwear underpants. Plus, official Underpants Run T-shirts are for sale after the event.

Additional funds were raised by raffling a Cannondale bike, Garmin 910 GPS, Surftech SUP and Paddle, Wood undies and 110% clothing.


“It’s not just about running or racing; it’s about giving back and that’s the best part,” Huddle said. “The four charities are local to this community and represent our belief in supporting the Hawaiian aloha spirit. Kailua-Kona is such an integral part of this race and this is just a way for us all to connect with Kona and the people here. We feel the aloha spirit when we’re here.”

The event is supported by the McMichael family (which owns Pacific Vibrations store), Cannondale, Head Sweats, Garmin, 110%, Surftech, Green Layer, Wattie Ink, Betty Designs, Wood Underwear and



“I (state your name) solemnly swear that I will resist the temptation to wear the evil garment known commonly as:

“…togs, scungies, bun huggers, plum smugglers, banana hammocks, crack splitters, butt floss, Speedos, etc., etc., etc. outside of swimming or racing.

“I further promise to uphold the sanctity of the local’s home of which I am a guest by frequenting public places in proper attire, obeying traffic laws, and being courteous at all times. This I pledge as an Ironman veteran, 1st timer, or wannabe.”



* This record is open to females and males.

* All participants must wear underpants (also known knickers for women).

* Men must wear nothing but the underpants. Women may wear a shirt on the top; however if a shirt is not worn then a full coverage bra must be worn.

* All participants must wear their own underpants/ knickers, sharing the same underpants is not allowed.

* All participants must be in position simultaneously and remain so for a minimum of five minutes.

* A loud start and finish signal recognized by all participants must be used. Two experienced timekeepers (e.g. from a local athletics club) must time the attempt with stopwatches accurate to 0.01 seconds



* Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii

VASH shares the aloha spirit with visitors affected by adversity. It recognizes that even during the fun and relaxation of vacations, unfortunate events can happen. And when far from home, visitors do not usually have access to their own support systems and resources. VASH assistance is designed to help visitors cope with and recover from unfortunate situations such as crime victimization, the loss of a purse or wallet, medical situations, or the death of a loved one by offering appropriate supportive services.

* West Hawaii Special Olympics

The mission of Special Olympics is provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

* Ahuena Heiau

The Ahuena Heiau is the religious temple that served King Kamehameha the Great when he returned to the Big Island in 1812. The heiau is considered one the most historically significant sites in Hawaii and in 1962, was designated a National Historic Landmark. A community-based committee Ahuena Heiau Inc., formed in 1993 to permanently guide the restoration and maintenance of this national treasure. The rock platform base, perimeter wooden fencing, Anuu Tower and an uprooted kii were damaged by the March 2011 tsunami. Ahuena Heiau, Inc. is working with the State Historic Preservation Division and a qualified historical site restorations coordinator to repair and restore the tsunami damage.

* Mokuaikaua Church

Founded in 1820, Mokauikaua Church is the oldest Christian Church in the Hawaii Islands. The first structure on the site was made from ohia wood and a thatched roof on land across the street from Hulihee Palace. After several fires, the present stone structure was constructed in the 1830s, partially from stones recycled from a nearby heiau. The church continues to be in use and is open to the public for tours. As it approaches it’s 200-year anniversary, the congregation is fundraising for an extensive remodel.

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