PHOTOS: Why 800 Underwear-Clad People Ran in the Snow for Cupid’s Undie Run

The author, Dan McQuade, is all smiles at Cupid's Undie Run. Photograph by Eddy Rhenals-Nava

The author, Dan McQuade, is all smiles at Cupid’s Undie Run. Photograph by Eddy Rhenals-Narvaez

“You work here, usually?” I ask a bathroom attendant as he squishes a glob of soap into my hand. “How’s this compare to the usual crowd?” I’m in my underwear, so I figured I should make small talk.

“Nicer,” he says, “but we’re not getting much in the way of tips.” It’s not just the dancers in the mechanical bull room who are in their underwear at XFINITY Live! on Saturday afternoon. It’s me. And everyone. We are there for the second annual Cupid’s Undie Run, a gimmick run for charity. We will be running outside shortly. It’s in the thirties.

I normally loathe gimmick runs, but this one piqued my interest. It was for the Children’s Tumor Foundation: good cause, solid Charity Navigator score. I love running; I knew how much fun running half-naked in cold weather was from my high school cross country days. Most notably, though, Sarah asked me to. My best friend, who hates running, was inviting me to run with her. I couldn’t have signed up any faster.

The actual run—one mile, untimed, not a race—was preceded by a three-hour stint at the bar. Preparing for the run had nothing to do with anything physical: It was about picking an outfit and mentally preparing myself to be mostly naked in public for a few hours. As a vain person with serious body-image issues, this took up most of my brain for a month.

Turns out mingling in your underwear in a bar is actually quite fun! I thought it would be several hours of self-consciously sucking in my gut, but by the time we were ready to race I forgot how I wasn’t wearing anything but a pair of running sneakers and red compression underpants. Perhaps it pays to have a short attention span.

{See Also: Photos from Wildwood’s Polar Bear Plunge 2014}

By the time I’d nervously made small talk with the bathroom attendant, we’d been pre-gaming this race at the bar for over an hour. I am ready to run; on cue, it’s starting as I leave the bathroom. As well as the rest of the day is organized, the run is hilariously unorganized. We open with a short jog down the parking lot and then stand there. As the complaints grow in the line as we stand there, we’re told to turn around and go back the other way. The run ends up being a short trip from XFINITY Live! to Pattison Avenue and back. It was only about three-fifths of a mile.

How short. But how exhilarating! I instantly remember why I used to stress myself out over cross country results in high school. My legs cut through the frigid air and soon it’s not cold at all. I am smiling on a run like I haven’t in a long time. As post-race photos will later demonstrate, I’m so happy I even forget to suck in my gut. We get back to the bar. I hug Sarah. (“Hey, we finally ran together!”) I vow to do it again.

Next time I’ll bring a couple of bucks for the bathroom attendant.

Photographs by Eddy Rhenals-Narvaez

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