Professional Triathlete Roch Frey confirmed the 14th Annual Kona Underpants Run is set for Thursday, October 6, starting at 8 a.m. at Pacific Vibrations just north of Emma’s Square in downtown Kailua Village. As indicated by its name, the participants are required to wear underpants….just underpants, plus black socks (if possible), running shoes, bras or bra tops for women of course, and heart rate monitors if desired. Hats are also optional.
The Underpants Run was founded by professional triathletes Paul Huddle, Chris Danahy, and Tim Morris, who noticed some of the visitors in town during Ironman week 15 years ago would wear their Speedos into restaurants and into grocery stores. They felt the European custom of wearing the tight, form-fitting swimwear around town was a bit inappropriate. To draw attention, they decided to make fun of everybody and everything and started the race. Frey said it is a challenge to enforce the “dress code,” but he shows up on Thursday morning with extra pairs of what he calls “tighty whities” for those who claim they don’t have the right kind of underwear. The run covers around 1.5 miles, up Likana Lane from Emma Square and Pacific Vibrations, around to Ali’i Drive, through the porte cochere of the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel, onto Kailua Pier for calisthenics, then down to Uncle Billy’s and back to Hulihe’e Palace.
Fun aside, the Underpants Run has a good charitable purpose. Frey said they ask for $20 donations from runners, and all funds get donated to local Hawaii Island charities. The charities this year are Special Olympics of West Hawaii, which so far has been included annually, and this year, Visitors Aloha Society of Hawaii, which helps visitors and tourists who get into trouble. Frey said they’ve also had tee shirts and hats donated, which may be purchased at Pacific Vibrations and funds for which all go to the charity. Frey estimates in the 14 years of the event, around $100,000 has been raised–all for local charities.
Last year, the run attracted around 1,000 participants, including Ironman participants, visitors, local residents, children, and even some dogs–all properly attired in underpants.
Registration (depositing donations) starts at 7 a.m. Thursday at Pacific Vibrations, with the McMichael family–Mike, Simmy, and 8-time Ironman competitor Lokelani managing the store. Prior to the run start, participants will repeat a tongue-in-cheek oath in which they pledge NOT to wear their Speedos to stores and restaurants. There will also be various items raffled off, including a stand-up paddleboard, a bike, and a heart rate monitor. The raffle will be at 7:55 a.m. Thursday, and winners must be present to collect their prizes. The Multisports.com booth at the Ironman Expo at Hale Halawai will also have raffle tickets for sale. Both Roch Frey and Paul Huddle, along with Huddle’s wife, 8-time Ironman winner Paula Newby Fraser and John Duke, founded Multisports.com, which trains triathletes and sponsors events.
Frey said the run and its charitable donations is a way to give back to the Kona community, to make fun of virtually everybody, and to have a good time.