Monday, December 17, 2007

Santa Speedo Run - Spectator or Participant?

Get in a speedo, wear a Santa hat and run through Boston.

the following taken from

The first Santa Speedo Run in 2000 was essentially a meaningless stunt conjured up by five friends in their mid-to-late 20s who thought, "we should do something stupid like we used to do," said Jonathan Ianelli, one of the founders of the race.

Their "stupid" idea was to run around the city wearing nothing but red Speedos while taking turns holding a portable stereo that played Christmas music by the Muppets. Passersby were stunned and amused by what they saw. Holiday shoppers stopped to cheer for the scantily clad pseudo-athletes.

"Just from that reaction, we realized people really liked it and that we could probably do something good with it," Ianelli said.

The fivesome began recruiting more friends to join the run and decided to charge a registration fee that would be given to a local charity. In 2003, they raised $14,000. In 2005, they raised over $50,000. This year, they're giving the money to the Women's Lunch Place in the Back Bay.

"It's great because we'll actually run by the church where they have the shelter," Ianelli said.

The day begins with morning drinks and registration at Lir, an Irish pub on Boylston Street. Participants have to raise (or pay) $250 to participate. It's free to watch, of course, and over the years, spectating has become part of the day's fun.
The run starts at about 1 p.m., and since the race is short, it's usually over within a half hour. Then it's back to Lir for more partying.

Kelly Fitzgerald, one of the first women to have run the Speedo event, says participants and spectators should expect to be social. After all, she met the man she married at one of the runs. "The first day I saw my husband, he was in a Speedo," Fitzgerald said.

The greatest compliment to the group of friends who originally started this race as a gag is that other cities have copied the idea. Runners in Austin and Toronto have contacted Ianelli about starting up Speedo races in those cities, and the Springfield-area rock station Lazer 99.3 is running its own Santa Speedo race on Sunday in Northampton. Ianelli doesn't mind the copycats.
"As long as they're doing it for charity," he said.