While others were bundled up in sweaters and scarves, over 50 half-naked students ran through campus Monday night for the University of Mary Washington’s 2nd Annual Underwear Run.
The run, which started at the bell tower at 8 p.m. and made its way down Campus Walk to Goolrick, was organized by junior Josh Ferrari.
“The idea originally came last year when I was talking to a buddy of mine who goes to Boston College,” Ferrari said. “He thought it would be cool to do a naked mile but I knew that would never fly here. So I guess that’s how the underwear run was born.”
Ferrari asked participants to bring canned food items to donate to the Fredericksburg Food Bank. The 65 items that were collected at the run will be delivered to the food bank in time for Thanksgiving.
Junior Madeleine Hawks, dressed in matching black Rose’s lingerie with her friend, junior Grace Trigger, liked the fact that there was a charity aspect to this year’s event.
“Last year there wasn’t a cause, so the fact that they are doing something for charity this year is a good thing,” Hawks said.
Trigger wanted to do the run this year for the excitement.
“It’s fun to do crazy things in college that don’t get you in trouble,” she said.
The participants, wearing everything from thongs to Speedos to boxers, grew louder as the time for the race drew near. The question of “Is it 8 o’clock yet?” rippled through crowd as they jumped up and down and playfully cheered at passing cars.
The crowd fell silent, however, when Ferrari came to the front of the bell tower and led the group in the countdown. They sprinted off into the 40 degree weather amid the applause and camera flashes from students lining Campus Walk.
Right after the run started, UMW police sergeant Skip Samuels pulled up in a patrol car to check out the event and make sure that students were safe.
“Events like this can attract sex offenders from off-campus so I just want to make sure nobody gets hurt or gets harassed,” he said.
Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker said the new tradition isn’t a problem as long as it’s done in an orderly and safe manner.
“There were no problems last year. We just emphasize student safety and responsibility,” he said. “From what I observed last year, students were having fun.”
Rucker, who graduated from Mary Washington in 1981, noted that the recent resurgence of the underwear run is really nothing new on campus.
“In the 90s, there was a tradition where after the first snow students would run around Ball Circle without any clothes on,” he said. “I had friends who were streakers. It’s just college fun.”
At colleges around the country, the tradition of holding underwear runs has taken hold. UCLA holds what is considered one of the largest underwear runs in the country the Wednesday of finals week every quarter. In recent years, it has attracted as many as 5,000 participants, according to the Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper.
Not limited just to college students, next year there will be an underwear run as a part of the New York City Triathlon where finishers will receive free Nautica boxers and Chipotle food.
Although the UMW Underwear Run is not as large as those at other schools, Ferrari hopes to make the event a staple at Mary Washington.
Last year’s run, which drew 100 people, was videotaped and posted on Middlesell.com, youtube.com, and collegehumor.com.
“My goal is for the underwear run to eventually become like Devil-Goat Day and be a once a year tradition,” Ferrari said. “I am looking for an interested freshman or sophomore to take up the planning of the event in the future.”
Freshman Corey Luquer, clad in Confederate flag boxers, echoed the sentiments of other participants when he said he would not miss next year’s underwear run.
“It’s fun to run around in the cold in your underwear,” Luquer said. “Why not?”