Andrea and Kurt Luone and Felicia Walker comprised one BIG pair of underpants. Nice effort team.
Tropical Fruit? No, It’s the 2003 Kona Underpants RunWhat event does the following describe: October in Kona; Years of tradition; The best athletes in the sport; Qualifying races; Licensing agreements; World wide media coverage? Ironman? Nope, it’s the Underpants Run!
In it’s 5th year, the 2002 event, while down in participation, raised over twice the $ of past years and featured one of a kind t-shirts that are sure to be collectors items hawked for top dollar on E-bay in the not too distant future.
This year, as we drove into town from the Keahole Airport, we experienced a new phenomenon. There were no cyclists or runners or even casual shoppers out and about in their Speedos. What was going on? Had the past 4-years of Underpants Runs eliminated the scourge? Was there a new dress code being enforced the authorities? Were local vigilante groups kidnapping offenders and holding them for ransom? Understand that this was the first time in 18-years of coming to the big Island in October when no underpants were spotted on the road into town. For a moment we rejoiced thinking that the battles were over and the war won.
At the same time, we had a moment of sadness. To think that all of countless hours of training, planning and preparation for this year’s event would be for naught was almost more than we could take. All those participants flying to Hawaii for one reason and one reason only: the 2002 Kona Underpants Run. The qualifiers from Canada and other Ironman North America events would arrive to find no purpose to their trip. Granted, they could take some solace in knowing that they would be able to salvage the week by staying to watch or participate in the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon World Championships but what about the penalties for changing tickets. The flight out on Friday would have to wait ‘til Sunday or Monday. What about all of those underpants carefully chosen from among the 3-packs and bonus 7-packs at K-Marts, Wal-Marts, and CostCo’s across the country? What would be their fate? No doubt, they would stay packed in suit-cases or find their way to the bottom of the top drawer, never to see the light of day on Alii Drive.
And then it happened. On Friday morning, walking back to our condo from the swim, Roch spotted our first major offenders. Two Euros walking with backpacks slung over their shoulders, running shoes on their feet, clad only in, you got it, UNDERPANTS. Not just underpants but one was in a drapery print and the other a plaid last seen on a Scottish kilt both cut to reveal all but the full Monty. We were back in business.
This year’s event had many of the same suspects as the past but there were some new faces as well. Our first professional was The Beast From the East, Kenny Glah! Kenny showed what kind of game he has by arriving on time, fearlessly donning a pair of tighty whities and getting on with, perhaps, the most important race of his long and storied career. If there was ever a case for the Ironman Hall of Fame, Kenny needs to be considered. Still competitive after 20-years of racing, his longevity in the sport has eclipsed all other male and female professionals out there . . . and now he’s added the Kona Underpants Run to his resume’. Fernanda and Paula come close but, since neither of these women has participated in an Underpants Run, The Flame is the man.
Along with Glah, this year’s run included the king pins from Ironman North America, Ted Kennedy and Graham Fraser. What could possibly cause these two formerly self-respecting Canadians to participate in the Kona Underpants Run? Evidently, they were getting a foot in the door knowing that all 2002 participants automatically qualify for 2003 and won’t have to go through another qualifying event in Couer D’Alene, Lake Placid, Penticton, or Madison. Knowing the difficulty of pulling off two Underpants Runs in one calendar year, these two showed their endurance race savvy by knocking down their qualifier a year in advance. No endless hours of training for two events – now they only have to worry about the Big Daddy of Underpants Runs. Nice job boys.
Other participant/celebrities/jack-asses included Bill Bell (almost disqualified for light blue underpants), Mike Reilly, Mike Mulahey, Whit Raymond, Mike McMichael, Sean “Peaman” Pagett, Dawna Stone, Kristen & Gavin Mayer, David “Homer” Holmes, Bob “Elvis” Babbitt, Elizabeth Farnan, Sarah Legh (wife of Chris “I’m afraid of running in my underpants but am still an Australian” Legh), Dr. K. Oppenheimer, Kurt and Andrea Luone (nee Gardenhire), Felicia Walker, and other luminaries too numerous to list here. With the addition of commemorative t-shirts, this year’s event raised over $1,100 for the local West Hawaii Special Olympics.
Wondering how you can join in the fun? Well get don’t get your knickers in a twist! Head for your own top drawer and set aside your best y-fronts for next year’s event:
What: 2003 Kona Underpants Run
Where: In front of Pacific Vibrations in Kailua-Kona
When: Thursday, October 16th, 2003 at 8:00am
Be there. Aloha.