By Greg Mcinerney
A stampede of half-naked students charged down Huntington Avenue last Friday night. No, not the 1 a.m. transfer from Conor Larkin’s to Our House East – this was the Annual Northeastern University Underwear Run.
The run itself was started five years ago by Northeastern’s cross country team. The original founders of the event have since graduated, leaving its organization and implementation in the hands of senior business major Joe Siravo. He said the event has grown, attracting an increasing number of participants each year.
“It started as just sort of an inside joke for us guys on the cross country team, but its popularity has grown every year,” Siravio said. “We thought of incorporating a clothes drive into the event, but for now we really just want to keep it as a crazy, pointless act of spontaneity.”
The event falls at the start of Parent’s Weekend, which is no coincidence, Siravo said.
“Yeah it’s deliberate,” he said. “It really adds to the fun of it all to see a few shocked parents along the way.”
A few confused parents did notice the enormous crowd that met at the Speare Hall at 9 p.m. last Friday, but were entering into the spirit of things.
“It’s great to see all the kids having fun. This is what college is all about,” said Mike, a parent who refused to give his last name in fear of embarrassing his freshman daughter.
While numbers didn’t quite swell to the 1,800 or so confirmed guests on the event’s official Facebook page, the vast amount of scantily clad bodies appeared to nearly total the thousand mark. The gathering was comprised mainly of males but Northeastern ladies were also out in force.
“Whether you’re a student, alum or homeless man, all are welcome to join in the fun,” read the description on the run’s Facebook event page – and while the turnout from the homeless community was nonexistent, students gathered in droves, eagerly awaiting the start of the run.
The party atmosphere was in full flow with chants of “underwear, underwear, underwear,” echoing the random silliness of the whole spectacle. It was a chilly night with temperatures in the mid to low fifties, making the participants’ task all the more difficult.
After a few expletive-filled chants directed at Boston College due to that night’s hockey game, the run was underway. A quick warm-up lap around campus was enough to turn the underwear run into the underwear lethargic walk for some of the mob, while others treated it as an Olympic time trial, running ahead with unbridled enthusiasm.
With the “athletes” as warm as one can get running around in underwear at night, they set off for the Prudential Center, which is about a half mile away. While many were perhaps wishing they had sported slightly more clothing, others were happy to disregard possible wardrobe malfunctions and powered ahead. Northeastern University Division of Public Safety (NUPD) secured the route ahead of the runners.
The mass of runners were greeted with loud cheers by the encouraging, if somewhat perplexed, general public. Many took the opportunity to record Northeastern’s finest physiques on camera – several videos are already surfacing on Facebook and Twitter. Some were not content with merely recording the event from the sidelines – a particularly excited group of spectators stripped down and joined the run.
One high point of the run is the route through the Prudential Center. Bare midriffs piled into one of Boston’s most famous buildings, with many overly enthusiastic runners falling victim to its merciless revolving doors. The upscale shopping center provided a contrasting backdrop to the runners who had started chanting again. “Let’s go Huskies” reverberated throughout the building as late night shoppers stood with mouths agape scratching their heads. After a brief jog around the building, the group exited to the applause of the onlookers.
The run home was more of the same, albeit at a slightly slower pace. A couple of runners opted for a brief dip in the reflecting pool. The group reconvened where the run began outside Speare Hall and gradually dispersed into the night.
Marco Torquati, a junior business exchange student from France, was visibly elated.
“I’ve found Boston pretty conservative since I got here, but this was wild,” Torquati said.
Ryan Billich, a freshman physical therapy major, was equally positive.
“This has been one of the best experiences since I got here,” he said. “It was unbelievable to be a part of it, especially running around Prudential. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”