Runners strip down for a good cause

About 80 SU students and community members run the "Nearly Naked Mile" to raise money for the Westcott Community Center and national triathlon competition.

Joseph Prosnitz jumped and cheered at the College Place bus stop in the 30-degree weather and rain Friday night wearing nothing but running shorts, blue Vibram Five Fingers and a sombrero.

Prosnitz, a senior information management and technology major and member of the SU Triathlon Club, was one of approximately 80 students and community members who gathered at College Place to participate in Syracuse University’s first ever “Nearly Naked Mile” clothing drive. For this charity event, people donated $5 and any clothes they stripped off during the run to the Westcott Community Center. The event was hosted by SU’s Triathlon Club along with Brotrippin’, a group of four SU seniors who plan on embarking on a cross country road trip after graduation.

Photo: Noelia de la Cruz
The back of the Brotrippin' van was filled with track jackets, jeans, sweaters and T-shirts, all of which will be donated to the Westcott Community Center on Monday morning.

Although the freezing wind and rain kept many inside, the weather didn’t drastically affect attendance, said Dan Larkin, a senior environmental science major and one of the three co-captains on the Triathlon Club. Members of the club and those from Brotrippin’ began setting up for the event around 6:30 p.m.

Adam Piskin, Derek Weed, Dom Denaro and Chris Hornstein of Brotrippin’ stationed their road trip van at the registration table, playing music to entertain participants while they waited, and leaving the back doors open for participants to dump donated clothes.

Mike Collins, a member of the Triathlon club, also tried to excite the crowd in the half hour leading up to the race by wearing an orange suit, blue tie and blue shorts. The freshman history education major, known by many students as the “Orange Man” who attends all football and basketball games, joined the Triathlon Club in the fall.

“We’re competitive as a team but together we’re really supportive of each other,” he said. “We just have a good time.”

By 8 p.m., participants were anxious-- jumping, chatting and shivering, waiting for the event to begin. At 8:06, a five-second countdown began, and by “1,” the swarm of nearly naked bodies screamed and cheered as they ran off.

The runners followed the 1.19 mile route that started at the College Place/Connective Corridor bus stop, continued past University Place, past Crouse College, around Eggers Hall towards the School of Law, around the Carrier Dome, past Archbold Gym and finally returned back to College Place.

The run took about eight minutes for the fastest runner, and the others finished soon after, meeting friends to cheers of triumph and relief.

Justin Cole, a senior economics and policy studies major, was one of the first to return to College Place. He said he found out about the event on Facebook and decided to participate to follow his “Live life to the fullest” mantra for senior year.

“I’m trying to live with no regrets and trying to do everything I’ve always wanted to do, things I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise,” he said. “There will be very few opportunities after graduation to run around in underpants for a good cause and have it be socially acceptable.”

Paul Knepley, a fifth year architecture student and co-captain of the Triathlon Club, said their goal with the "Nearly Naked Mile" was to raise money for the community and themselves in a fun way.

The club competes in the Northeast Collegiate Triathlon Conference (NECTC) and usually gains enough points to move on to the national competition. But according to Larkin, they can’t always afford to take their members. The club receives $1,200 from SU to fund their triathlon competitions in the fall and $1,000 to compete in the national competition.

"But it’s not nearly enough," Larkin said, considering race entry fees cost about $100 per person, on top of transportation, lodging and other expenses. The club estimated the total of this year's costs would reach up to $3,000.

According to Larkin, 110 people registered for the event and they raised a total of $550. 10 percent of the money raised and all the clothing donated will go to the Westcott Community Center, and the remaining 90 percent will help pay for the national competition. Members of the Triathlon team said they were genuinely surprised with how successful the event turned out to be. Larkin admitted that future members will probably consider having the second "Nearly Naked Mile" in the fall when it’s warmer, to attract more people at the beginning of the school year. Still, for the first time, he said the event proved to be a hit.

“It was a success for the first annual one, and we hope that it will become a bigger event in the future.”

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