Tag Archives: running

Undie Run-UCLA Folk Tradition

Context: This is a folk tradition that occurs at UCLA during finals week as a means of blowing off steam, my brother learned this tradition as a freshman and gave his opinions on the tradition and its value.

K: So ya….uh. Undie Run is basically a quarterly tradition at UCLA in which the Wednesday of finals week, where….uh at…I wanna say starting at midnight….ya right at midnight. 

Basically, everybody that’s capable….comes to…um…under the bridge…across from UCLA. 

It’s a certain start point at UCLA that everybody gets to in their underwear and then we run from there up until the top of Janss Steps which is at UCLA and basically…uh.. its kind of a..its a way in which you commemorate finals. 

It’s just a tradition…uh… I don’t know how long we’ve been doing it for.

K: It’s important to us because it’s like…it’s just tradition. 

It’s the student experience. I know that like I remember like..um..some of my older friends like they would have their sashes.

Like you would see seniors with their graduation sashes doing it….you know…its..its just a college experience…a college thing…fundamentally it’s a UCLA college thing.

K: Um..why underwear…you know that’s…actually….you know  I don’t ….

Some people can wear like their pajamas….you know..but typically you wear your boxers, wear like….uh..wear like leggings…you know what I’m sayin…if you’re a dude.

You know people are wearing…you know…they..they determine their spectrum as to what constitutes as underwear. 

Thoughts: After interviewing my older brother about UCLA’s Undie Run tradition, it honestly made me laugh at first because I thought it was ridiculous for students to run while practically naked and not get in trouble. When I was in high school they banned having any kind of senior prank or event because of a previous year so I never had the chance to do anything to commemorate my high school graduation. Hearing my brother describe the Undie Run gave me the nostalgia that he must have felt coming in as a freshman and being introduced to this folk tradition. The Undie Run is a unique tradition because its meaning is subjective to each individual person and its something that continues to live on with both the students and the school. As a freshman, my brother’s experience was less sentimental because he had just arrived at UCLA and was getting used to his environment and its many traditions. However, for the senior friends that he described the meaning was different. The Undie Run for them meant that they were not only commemorating their finals being over but were also celebrating four or so years of hard work as they were about to leave UCLA and this run would be there last. I would never have imagined a large group of people collectively running in their underwear, it sounds so strange, but that seems to be the beauty of folklore in this case. A tradition like the Undie Run is something that I view as strange because, as a student at USC, I’m not apart of the culture. As a sophomore at USC, I understand how events like these can be an important feature of the college experience like my brother emphasized. Now that he is a senior, he was finally able to participate in his last Undie Run as a UCLA Bruin and was able to fully appreciate its importance and commemorate all his hard work.

For another version see: Vassar, Ethan, and Ethan Vassar. “Seriously: Undie Run Cancellation Threatens CSU Admission Rates, Sponsors.” The Rocky Mountain Collegian, 7 May 2019, collegian.com/2019/05/category-opinion-seriously-undie-run-cancelation-threatens-csu-admission-rates-sponsors/.

New Years Tradition: Run Around the Block

Main Body: 

Informant: My family doesn’t do this and I don’t think it’s a Nicaraguan thing to do. But some people, what they do is – is they put money in their shirt and they run around their block and the – like, their heartbeat, how many times your heart beats – that’s supposed to multiply the money. So you’re supposed to – you want to get your heart rate really high while you run around.

Interviewer: So then the amount of money in your shirt multiplied by the number of heartbeats you have while going around the block, that’s the amount of money you’re getting in the new year or in the first month of the new year or something?

Informant: No not exactly, I don’t think the exact math matters. And it doesn’t really matter how much money you have in your shirt. It’s more about the heartbeats, the more of those you have while you run around the block, the more money you’ll get in general in the new year.

Interviewer: So if you have a longer block where you live,  you can get more money.

Informant: *Laughs*  Yeah I guess so.

Interviewer: But, so you don’t do this.

Informant: No, I don’t – my family doesn’t do this but I’ve heard of other families doing this

Background:

My informant is a friend and a fellow student at USC. She was born and raised in Florida but her father comes from Nicaragua and her mother comes from the Appalachian region. This tradition is a New Years’ tradition that her family doesn’t participate in, but it’s one that she’s heard of that other friends of hers do participate in. I didn’t ask specifically which friends and where they’re from, but the implication was that they were also Latin American if not Nicaraguan. 

Context:

I had set up a Zoom call with my friend because she said she had some examples of folklore that she could share with me. This sample was shared during that call

Analysis:

Some quick research online yielded no results when trying to look up this tradition/superstition. I really like this one, I think it’s really interesting. I think you can think of putting the money inside the shirt on your chest as literally keeping money close to your heart, emphasizing its importance. Additionally I think the idea that the more your heartbeats the more money you get, is speaking to the ideal of hard work. The harder you run, the more your heart beats, the more money you get. Similarly, generally in life, a good lesson to impart is that the harder you work at something, the more you will be rewarded for it.

Cinder swallow

Main piece:

If you run track in Southern Illinois, then you’ve been on a cinder track. Unlike rubber tracks, they’re hard, uneven, and they hurt so badly to fall on. Cinders cut easily, and get caught up in runners’ scrapes when they fall.

Track athletes are very superstitious, right? So this trend caught on – and I really don’t know where it started, of runners swallowing a cinder right before their race. The saying went that “the cinder would keep it all down!”, meaning that a runner wouldn’t cramp up or vomit following their run.

It was also supposed to protect you from falling, but that definitely isn’t real because I fell or dove at like half of my four hundreds and it still hurt.

Context:

Ritual described by Bree Tschosik, born and raised in Decatur, IL.

Background:

Cinder tracks are a common fixture in the rural Midwest due to their economical nature and durability. They never need to be covered or protected. Typically, they are found at public schools and facilities. Better funded, private schools typically have “all-weather” or rubber tracks.

Analysis:

This ritual is unique in that it only need be performed at meets held on a cinder track. Few athletic superstitions are performed inconsistently or with regards for the nature of the field of play.

Margaritas at La Barca

My informant is a USC student of Armenian and Caucasian origin, born and raised in California and regularly exercises through distance running. She is also a human biology major with an emphasis in human performance.

“So during a long day of a run—Melissa and I would hate it—and really count down our ten miles until we could go eat at La Barca. And finally when we were done we were rewarded with two-three margaritas, chips and salsa, and a grande colossal burrito and surprisingly we would wake up and run ten times faster. A couple times we averaged a 6:33 mile for 8 miles consecutively so, every time before we had a hard workout the next day we would prep at La Barca before…and it worked pretty well this past summer! And so I guess its just tradition now kind of, with me and her and the other girls who run with us sometimes.”

 

Analysis: This example of acquired folklore demonstrates how superstition and repetition can create a ritual. My informant believed that there was an undeniable tie between her performance while running and the consumption of several margaritas and Mexican food at La Barca restaurant prior to her hard workouts the next day. The initial improvement of her mile time gave her “proof” that her ritual/ceremony before her rough workouts was successful which prompted her repeating the ritual and spreading what she had learned with her other running buddies until it became a tradition within their group to partake in drinks and Mexican food before workouts. This piece of folklore also serves a social purpose and a means of bringing people together and strengthening bonds between friends, as well as marking a distinct trait or practice within this specific running group.

Running of the Bitches

This informant is a member of a USC fraternity and I asked him to share some of their traditions or stories he might have.  One I found interesting was about an annual tradition that occurs when the Sororities give out their bids to the new members.

Every year in the Fall sororities have this event where they give bids to the new freshman and they all run from campus to their new houses.  I honestly have no idea why they do it that way but its fuckin awesome for us because we just get to sit back and scope all the new hot girls.  Every semester we all sit in front of the house really drunk and get super rowdy.  The whole time we all judge who got the best pledge class and try to pick out the hottest chicks.

I might add that my informant was drinking a beer while I listened to his story, which is further a testament to the drinking culture amongst fraternities.  I thought this was an interesting story because it shed light on some interesting dynamics between fraternities and sororities.  Frat kids seem to be blatantly disrespecting women, most of them young freshman, which an outsider might find offensive.  However, the sorority girls obviously want to show off their new pledge class to the Greek community and have continued to do so for years.  This shows how the college culture of acceptable cross-gender relations is different from the outside world.

“skunk in the graveyard”

“Skunk in the graveyard” is a running game you would play with friends outside, and it is like the daytime version of “ghost in the graveyard.” Essentially, one person is the “skunk” and they go and hide while everyone else counts at the “base” and closes their eyes. When it’s time to go seek out the skunk, everyone goes out from the base and once the skunk is spotted, the spotter yells, “skunk in the graveyard!” and that signals everyone to run back to the base before the skunk can tag you. If tagged, you become another skunk and thus another round begins. The rounds continue until there’s but one person left untagged, and that remaining person then becomes the one skunk to start the next game.