At first, there were only a few people, about eight in all.
But as 11:50 p.m. drew near Friday night, people started showing up at the Lory Student Center in droves. It would only be a matter of minutes before a little over 400 men and women clad only in their underwear were joking and laughing, chanting and screaming in front of the LSC, ready to make a run for it.
Friday marked CSU’s first-ever Undie Run, organized by a CSU student on Facebook to bring this time-honored finals-stress-relieving college tradition home to the university.
Josh Heuerman, a freshman open option major and the organizer of the event,said students push themselves so hard toward the end of the year, and they need a break from the stress and monotony.
“(Students) study so much, and there’s so much stress at college – they need a break, they need something to lighten the mood,” Heuerman said. “This is something that does that.”
The infectious energy pulsing through the crowd only seemed to grow in anticipation of the run around the north end of campus. It died every now and then to nervous chatter, only to resurge with every new group arrival and chant of “CSU, undie run!” and “I’m proud to be a CSU Ram!”
With a look of determination and intensity, Jeff Garkow, a sophomore history major, summed up his outlook on running around campus in his briefs with just four words.
“I welcome the challenge,” he said.
The pile of discarded clothes the students gathered around steadily built up to a three-foot mountain, with garments constantly flying through the air from random directions.
But it wasn’t just an excuse for students to run around in their underwear or blow off some steam before finals week.
Participants were encouraged to bring clothes that they wanted to donate to GoodWill.
Mallory Hochwender, a freshman technical journalism major, said donating the clothing gave an additional sense of purpose for the Undie Run.
“I have, like, four shirts on,” Hochwender said. “It would just be people running around senselessly in their underwear, unless there was a charity.”
With a roar of cheers and a rumble of shoes (and a few bare feet) hitting the pavement, the crowd took off across the plaza toward the Engineering Building to start the circuit of north campus: through the oval, up Laurel Street to Meridian Street, then back onto campus, ending back at the LSC.
From the infamous man-thong or “banana hammock,” to regular briefs, to superhero capes and knee-high socks, to bras and panties of all different colors and styles, the underwear mini-marathon commenced.
The fastest students only took about 10 minutes, and then waited for the rest of the crowd to arrive, cheering them on to the finish line.
Heuerman said the run went much better than planned because of CSU’s poor track record of follow-through with unsanctioned events and despite chilly temperatures and threats of rain.
“Every time we try to do something as a school, it seems to fail,” Heuerman said. “The World’s Biggest Streak — we failed at it. This is a great turnout.”
Heuerman added that he hoped the Undie Run could become a more permanent tradition on campus, supported by the university to keep things going and make it an annual event similar to other colleges across the nation that also sponsor the event.
“I just made a Facebook group, and more and more people started to join, and it got to a thousand confirmed, and I didn’t know if it was going to happen,” Heuerman said. “I wanted to bring CSU together, and look what happens.”
Staff writer Andy Dose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.