Students brandished hot dogs, Superman logos, candy canes and Jonathan the Husky on their undergarments at the University of Connecticut’s Fourth Annual Underwear Mile on Fairfield Way Sunday afternoon.
Student organization UConn Empower ran the event. The Underwear Mile is a fundraiser to help communities in developing countries. Students register and donate to run. This year’s money will go to a community in the Dominican Republic. UConn Empower also sold Underwear Run tank tops to boost funds.
“It’s becoming a UConn tradition,” said Amber Dickey, an eighth-semester Spanish major and president of UConn Empower. “I’ve been with [the run] from the start. It really helps promote body positivity. People show off their underwear and costumes.”
Creativity was abundant that afternoon. The runners dressed up and displayed their printed undergarments. Costumes included a Batman-Superman duo (complete with capes and painted chest logos) cowboys and one student clad in gym shorts and a police cap.
Before the run, the crowd amped themselves up for the dash. A DJ played music, and several participators held impromptu pushup and limbo contests. They took photos of each other flaunting their style. Monster Energy Drinks was also present and handed out free cans to registered runners.
At four o’clock, the crowd gathered at the starting line, shouting the UConn chant and readying themselves for the mile. At the signal, they took off, an entire throng of underwear clad students racing down Fairfield Way.
The mile consisted of a stretch down Fairfield Way, turning and running past the Chemistry building and down Mansfield Road, before turning onto Gilbert Road, then onto Hillside, finishing back at the Student Union, a route that would take one mile.
About five minutes after they set off, Jeffrey Noonan, a UConn track athlete, crossed the finish line to land first place. He got a bag of prizes donated by Monster Energy Drinks.
Soon after, the rest of the runners arrived, to the cheers of other students watching, and passing cars honked encouragement. The Superman-Batman duo arrived at exactly the same time, tying at the line.
The event was well received this year, and the warm weather worked to the organizer’s advantage.
“It’s exciting to see everyone show their colors,” Hannah Gill, second-semester biology major and Underwear Mile participant. “The weather was perfect, and everyone put their heart into it. I’m totally doing it again next year.”
“I’m happy that it goes to a good cause.” said Alyssa Matz, a second-semester microbiology major. “I’m doing it for a purpose.”
The Underwear Mile also encourages students to be respectful of all body types, and to be proud of your physique.
“It’s a great way to express yourself.” said Kara Williams, a sophomore attending for her second time. “No one’s being judgmental – it’s goofy fun.”
With pre-registration, day-of registration and tank top sales, nearly $1,000 was raised, and over 100 students participated in the event.
With the year’s success, UConn Empower's leaders said they want to expand the event next year.
“We’d love to make it more pumped up,” said Sejal Patel, organizer and UConn Empower member. “Getting the word out there, more participation. But, this year was just perfect. The weather, everything.”
Marlese Lessing is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.