One of the most popular – and most daring – elements of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii is the annual Underpants Run, held the Thursday before the world’s best-known triathlon.

The 1.2 mile affair, which began in 1998 with just a few free-spirited souls, now attracts more than 700 participants along the picturesque start/finish area and Ali’i Drive in Kona.

This year, GU Energy, the official gel and energy chew supplier of Ironman, collected more than $400 in donations – which the company matched, and then some. GU directed a total of $1,000 to VASH, the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, and to the restoration of Ahu’ena Heiau, Kona’s ancient temple that was damaged in a storm. The company also had five employees participate in the Underpants Run, while sales director Reid Swanson completed Saturday’s main event in 12:09:06.

Tyler Clark, a marketing events manager at GU, said that the charitable initiative was spontaneous, “People loved the underwear we made for the run, so we started selling them from out of our booth. Plus, we set up a wheel to spin at a dollar a spin, which not only developed more money but gave participants a shot at our products.”

“We’re not going to open a lingerie shop on Ali’i Drive or anything,” said GU Energy CEO Brian Vaughan, who participated in the run. “But we are definitely considering expanding our fund-raising efforts as part of our Ironman activation next year and in the future.”

Logo courtesy Outside PR/GU Energy Labs

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