Boulder's first-ever Underpants Run didn't leave much to the imagination of downtown spectators, as a thundering herd of about 200, all clad in their knickers and briefs, stampeded down Pearl Street on Thursday evening for a lighthearted jaunt ahead of Sunday's grueling 140.6-mile Ironman race.
"I don't normally look for excuses to run in my underwear," Boulder triathlete Sarah Black said, "but this is one of those pre-race things that you've just got to do because it's silly and it's fun and it's all about camaraderie.
"Everybody's nerves are on high, and we're all stressing about Sunday, so I think this is a nice chance to just get out and be goofy without thinking about the race for a while."
The runners, most of whom are either competing in the Ironman Boulder or will be supporting a competitor, ran from the Boulder Running Co., at the corner of 28th and Pearl streets, down Pearl to the eastern edge of the walking mall, and back.
Many of those racing Sunday described the roughly 1.5-mile loop as a chance to shed some layers and blow off steam before returning focus to the Ironman.
"I go to a lot of races, and the best ones are always the ones where the community gets behind it. So things like this are really cool," said Boulder triathlete Tim O'Donnell, the top placing American at last year's Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
"It's a hard sport, and everybody knows what everyone else has to go through to get across the finish line," O'Donnell added. "This sport in general has a really close bond among all the athletes. I mean, we're willing to run with a bunch of strangers in their underwear."
From the look of it, nearly all who participated Thursday were more than just willing to run in their undies.
"I love it, and I find it perfectly socially acceptable," said eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno, who'll compete Oct. 11 at Kona.
Ohno donned black briefs that read, "Got chocolate milk?" It was one of the more conservative outfits in a group boasting a heap of hot pink, cheetah print and, of course, the obligatory helping of men in Batman-themed drawers.
"It's nice to run like this," Boulder's Aldrin Torres said. "I don't see any problem with this being acceptable any time. It's comfortable. The weather here is nice. Why not?"
O'Donnell remembers a time when running in underpants was more than a once-a-year joke.
"When I first started racing, we used to just race in Speedos," he said. "So this is kind of like kicking it old-school."
Others, like Longmont's Katie Ingram, who hopes to finish her fourth Ironman on Sunday, would prefer a return to clothed running.
"I'm not trying to pave the way for underwear running in the future," she said.
"I would not do this more often if I could," added Steven Scoleri, of Atlanta. "I guess I don't mind, but I'm pretty much naked out here."
Event organizers said they'd like to recruit twice the number of participants next year, but some runners are already thinking about applying their newfound love of underpants athletics at Ironman.
"I get to channel my inner exhibitionist out here," said Pueblo resident Shelby Austin, of the Batman faction. "It's more comfortable, it's more aerodynamic. I might just do it this way on Sunday."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Alex Burness at 303-473-1389 or firstname.lastname@example.org.