‘Spooky 15th Underwear Run’ marks unofficial return to beloved campus tradition


Graphic courtesy Cathleen Zhang and Max Daniels

Students will run starting from Speare Hall and ending at Centennial Common.

Marta Hill, campus editor

The Underwear Run is a time-honored Northeastern tradition that’s exactly what it sounds like —  students gather in late October and run through campus and the city in their underwear.  

Things are different this year. Two students took it upon themselves to host an unofficial version of the event, looking to bring the fun back to campus. Organizers canceled the official 2020 and 2021 Underwear Runs due to COVID-19 concerns. 

The Spooky 15th Underwear Run is set to start at 8 p.m. Oct. 31 in front of Speare Hall. 

“Halloween is my favorite time of year. I love the fall; I like to do  the costumes and the parties; it’s  always been a super fun experience with my friends. And I feel like the Underwear Run was just part of that experience,” said Max  Daniels, a fourth-year math and computer science combined major and co-organizer of this year’s mini  Underwear Run.  

October 2020 would have marked the 15th annual Underwear Run.

“During midterm season — it also happened to be parents’ weekend —  Halloween is coming up, everybody  is stressed and somebody was like ‘I  know the perfect way to relieve my  stress. I am going to strip and run in  the cold Boston weather,’” Daniels said. “Of course, hundreds of people  on campus agreed and the [official]  Underwear Run started.” 

Cathleen Zhang is a fourth-year cybersecurity major and the other co-organizer of this year’s run. She said she was inspired to organize the unofficial Underwear Run because she wanted one more chance to participate in the unique event with her friends before she graduates in the spring. 

“A lot of my friends are graduating this year, and when I found out earlier in the month that the  Underwear Run was canceled, I was a little sad,” Zhang said. “I just kind  of felt upset and sad for my friends  who are graduating this year if they  have not been able to do it.”  

Zhang asked around to gauge interest in the event and heard from many friends that they would participate if there was a sizable crowd attending. At the time of publication, the Facebook event has  80 people marked as attending and  351 people marked as interested. 

“I’m just excited to have a good time with my friends. Because in the previous years that we’ve been there,  it’s just been fun to be in a giant group of people in their underwear and just run,” Zhang said. “It’s just such a  college experience and also just such a  fun and freeing experience.”

Usually, the Underwear Run draws thousands of students and requires coordination with the Boston Police Department.

“The biggest difference is that we put it together in a Facebook event on a Sunday and we have no affiliation to the people who planned it,” Daniels said. “I would call this a mini version. It’s a student-run version, and it probably looks a lot more like one of the first Underwear Runs.”

This year’s course stays on campus — starting at Speare Hall and ending at Centennial Common.

“The course is normally longer, but we’re just trying to sort of keeping it a little bit tame,” said fourth-year computer engineering and computer science combined major Ben Knower. “I’m just excited to get back to it because we missed it last year. Hopefully there’ll be a lot of people.”

Knower found out about the event through Daniels. He participated in Underwear Runs his first two years on campus. When he was a first year, he didn’t plan on attending but ended up going and having a great time.

He encouraged people to give the Underwear Run a try.  

“It’s just kind of like a crazy event,” Knower said. “It’s very college, just everyone running around half-naked.”