Athletes Sport Underwear For A Cause

Courtesy photo.

Semi-nudists unite.

Beginning around 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, hundreds of “unclothed” running enthusiasts will convene near the Belle of Louisville landing (Fourth Street and Bingham Way) for Louisville’s most daring dash, the fourth annual Underpants Run.

Founded in 2009 by Kevin Brooks, triathlete and owner of Brooks Airbrush Studio, the Underpants Run is a 1 and 1/2 mile “parade” run for charity involving much amusement and little clothing.

“I was training for the Ironman here in Louisville in ’09 and I just wanted to do something fun, something memorable, kind of before the event because I wasn’t sure I was going to finish (the Ironman),” Brooks laughed as he explained the inspiration behind the run. “We ended up having a really good time and raised money for (the family of John Carr, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver during a triathlon in 2009.)”

There’s no registration fee to enter, but rather a request to give whatever amount you can to this year’s event beneficiary, the KIDS Center For Pediatric Therapies. For those who can’t attend the run, you can also visit the KIDS Center’s website,, and contribute to the multidisciplinary treatment center for children with developmental delays and/or disabilities.

“Today we serve over 300 children each week in our therapy program,” said Dave Ramer, executive director of the KIDS Center for Pediatric Therapies. “Each year we end up serving over 700 families. More than 70 percent of them need some level of financial assistance and more than 30 percent qualify for full assistance. Community support is absolutely the only way we can fill the revenue gap this creates. The Underpants Run is an unexpected fundraiser for us this year, so the proceeds will certainly help us continue to serve children who have therapeutic needs as well as financial assistance.”

Courtesy photo.

Aside from Louisville, the Kona district of Hawaii has hosted an annual Underpants Run since 1997. When Brooks first brought the event to the Derby City, he sought advice from Paul Huddle, co-founder of the Hawaiian fete, created as a tongue-and-cheek protest to European triathletes sporting Speedos out and about while in town for the Ironman.
“(Huddle said) we keep it really loose, we don’t do any preregistration, you show up, you donate, run, have fun,” Brooks said of the event’s raison d’être. “That’s the four things we require.”

While there’s no clear-cut winner of the run, you can earn one of four awards: Best Underpants, Biggest Team Participation, Most Colorful and Most Creative.

Costumes seen at past events include an Italian man donning an apron with the statue of David printed on front and a girl wearing an oversized pair of underwear large enough to fit about three people inside.

Rest assured, though, this is a family-friendly event. “We have little kids do this run with us so we’re not R-rated, whatsoever,” Brooks said.

Courtesy photo.

Through the help of dozens of sponsors and volunteers, Brooks and fellow coordinators successfully continue to host Louisville’s most liberating tradition. No need to be shy, this is one event you don’t want to miss and, without a doubt, one you’ll likely look back on with plenty of laughter.
“It’s the absolute most fun way that you can do something good for a place like the KIDS Center,” Brooks said. “There’s no way you can frown running in your underpants.”

For more information on the Underpants Run, search “The Louisville Underpants Run” on Facebook. Official start time is 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25. Note: extra clothes worn on the way to the event will be safeguarded during the run.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at