Runners strip down for charity during Cupid’s Undie Run

Runners make their way back from the Williamsburg Bridge during the 2023 Cupid’s Undie Run for neurofibromatosis research.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

A little over 100 runners braved cool but sunny temperatures and participated in the annual “Cupid’s Undie Run” on Saturday to raise money for neurofibromatosis (NF) research.

Cupid’s Undie Run is the brainchild of Brendan Hanrahan, Bobby Gill, and Chad Leathers. Leathers’ brother, Drew, was diagnosed with NF — a genetic disorder of the nervous system which causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body — when he was 16. In 2009, Drew became paralyzed because tumors formed on his spine.

In 2010, Hanrahan, Gill, and Leathers decided to strip down and run in their underwear to raise awareness of the disease. Since then, an estimated 108,600-plus “undie runners” have hit the streets for the cause.

Runners make their way back from Williamsburg Bridge.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

So far, the annual event, which takes place every February in cities across the United States, has raised over $21,700,000 for NF research, with 100 percent of net proceeds going to the cause. The non-profit organization works in partnership with Children’s Tumor Foundation, the world leader in NF research.

Touted as the largest national pantsless party, runners warmed up with drinks at the DL Rooftop & Lounge on Delancy Street on the Lower East Side before embarking on the mile(ish) run wearing nothing but their knickers. Runners headed along the sidewalk from the DL Lounge to the Williamsburg Bridge and back.

Runners get warmed up.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Diana and Kyle from Westchester learned about Cupid’s Undie Run when they ran the New York Marathon. 

“There was a table there, and it sounded like fun and for a good cause and was much shorter than the 26 miles we had already signed up to run,” Diana said. “So we figured, why not?” 

They convinced their neighbors Anthony and Siobhan to join the fun weekend activity. 

“They said, ‘Hey, we signed up to run a mile in our underwear. Do you want to do that with us as good friends?”‘ Siobhan said. “I said absolutely.”

Runners embark on the “mile-ish” Cupid’s Undie Run.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

At the after-party, Dr. Rebecca Brown, a neuro-oncologist and assistant professor at Mount Sinai, said it was the second year she participated.

Dr. Brown shared that she joined Mount Sinai in 2021 and opened an NF clinic for children and adults. 

“I opened up my first clinical trial last year for cutaneous neurofibromas,” Dr. Brown said. “And I’m currently applying for funds to open up further trials.”

Michael Anthony Morris-Mason, financial director of 54 Below, has taken part in the Cupid’s Undie Run 11 times and is known to switch outfits up to three times during the event. 

“I think it’s one of the most fun fundraisers, and it’s for an excellent cause,” Morris-Mason said. “So yeah, that’s why I do it.”

Runners enjoy their post-run drinks at the DL Lounge.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Runners cool down at the after party.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Friends David, Noah, Lemon, Natalie, and Anthony said they join the event every year.

“It’s just fun and it’s for charity,” Lemon said. David added, “I just like running and being naked.”