Nashville is experiencing an epidemic of ridiculously themed 5ks or “fun runs”. Chug beer or wine at each waypoint. Wallow in colored powder. Eat a box of donuts. Play zombie tag.
It seems like a new one pops up every day. They’ve become very popular. Is it because the Southeast has suddenly become very health-conscious and super into running, and everyone has run soooooo many 5ks that a regular one is just too boring? Well, of course fucking not. (Otherwise they wouldn’t be chugging beer or eating donuts.)
Mostly, these races are just excuses for grown adults to act like assholes in public. And that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with finding a socially acceptable way to go a little batshit crazy in public. (I myself am heading to Mardi Gras next week, the queen mother of all free passes for acting fucking crazy in public.) The problem happens when we attach fundraising for a charity to these events and suddenly any participant becomes a saint instead of just another asshole looking for a novel way to have his jimmies rustled.
Take Cupid’s Undie Run for example. The latest in the epidemic of wacky 5k races to come to Nashville, Cupid’s Undie Run charges a $30+ entry fee so participants can run from favorite Vandertrash hook-up spot, the Tin Roof, down to the Country Music Hall of Fame and back. And they do it in pink and red underwear in the middle of February with open bars bookending the race.
If they’re raising money for a good cause, who cares? What’s my problem?
My problem is with the veneer of respectability painted over what is otherwise batshit crazy exhibitionism and bacchanalia, all by virtue of its tangential relationship with charity.
To be fair, I’m sure there are a couple of people participating in Cupid’s Undie Run that really do just want to raise money for charity and their participation has nothing to do with their desire to get drunk and run around in their underwear. A very few. Maybe one. But those people probably won’t actually be running in their underwear.
The vast majority of the participants aren’t running because they so passionately want to raise money for children’s cancer research that they’d put themselves through hellish embarrassment for it. People who want to raise money for children’s cancer research will just DONATE $30 TO THE CHILDREN’S TUMOR FOUNDATION, or choose any other fundraising effort that does not involve running around town in your underwear.
The charity for which they are ostensibly raising funds is not the driving force here, it’s the event itself. They’re doing it because they want to get drunk and run around town in their underwear, and the $30 they paid is their admission price. Having a charity attached to it just magically makes it respectable.
With the exception of the odd nerd exhibitionist who loves doing Darkstalkers cosplay at MTAC, most of the participants are 18-30 year olds who are current or former members of organizations that use the Greek alphabet to write their names. The photos page on the Cupid’s Run website looks like rush week. A $150 donation gets you access to an open bar at The Tin Roof pre & post race— the advertisement for that particular fundraising effort reads “Open Bar Dude!!!” in red type. Three exclamation points.
For a certain segment of the population, races like this are the perfect storm. Without the charity attached, people getting drunk in their underwear at Tin Roof and then running down Broadway in the middle of February would just be sad and desperate. Normally, making a public spectacle of yourself in your underwear would just label you narcissistic, mentally unstable, desperate for attention, slutty or all of the above. But with a charity attached, not only do Undie Run participants not have to wait till Halloween or a comic convention to be exhibitionists, they get to do it under conditions that allow them to claim/have ascribed to them qualities possessed by fucking great human beings.
They’re being healthy, because they’re “running.” This ignores the fact that most of them will be drinking before and after, and half the participants don’t even run, walking the entire time and then running the last 100ft to the finish line, because YAY! Races!
They’re raising money for a good cause. This makes them charitable, kind-hearted, and giving, taking time out of their Saturday that would be otherwise spent instagramming pictures of what they ate for breakfast or updating their Facebook status with how much weight they lost last week.
They’re not self conscious. Such good sports for being willing to run in their underwear for a good cause, without caring how ridiculous they look. As if they didn’t carefully do their hair, pick out just the right outfit, make a spray tanning appointment, waxing appointment, and generally spend more hours getting ready for this race than Junior Prom.
They are free spirited and adventurous. Because they are participating in something so zany and wacky. They don’t just look at that “Live, Laugh, Love” poster every morning when they get up, they fucking embody that shit.
So, they get to run around Midtown half naked and tipsy and instead of people talking shit about them or having to deal with the self loathing and court dates that accompanied their last tipsy, half naked jaunt through the streets, they get to praise themselves for it. They get to advertise it on Twitter. And most wonderful of all, they finally get to post pictures of themselves in their underwear on Facebook, with complete and total immunity from bitches talking shit about it, because it’s for charity.
And I’m all for it. If charities can capitalize on delusions of magnanimity fueled by exhibitionism, then great! Egomania is an untapped and limitless resource. And this is one of the few ways in which it can actually benefit humanity.
So, if you’re participating in the Cupid’s Undies Run, have fun. I’m glad that your desire to run around in your underwear will be benefiting sick children. But lets call it what it is.
Just by the by, I’m starting an event called Kegels for Kids! You get people to sponsor you based on how many kegels you can do in a row, and then everyone comes out in the spirit of camaraderie and charity and lays down in the parking lot of LP Field and shoots ping pong balls out of their pussies. Training for it will be sooooo good for your health. This is a great opportunity to raise funds for children’s cancer research, guys! It’s all about charity and having fun. Can’t wait to post great pictures of this fun event to my (paid membership only) website.