Thousands of people in 30 cities will be participating in what appears to be an emerging Valentine's Day weekend tradition: stripping down to red skivvies and running a mile or so outdoors for a good cause.

Cupid's Undie Run, which started in Washington in 2010, has spread to 27 cities in the U.S. and three in Australia in the past four years. Charleston is among 10 cities hosting an inaugural event Saturday.

Last year's events raised more than $1.3 million for the Children's Tumor Foundation to fund research to end neurofibromatosis (NF), and this year's effort has already surpassed $3 million in pledges.

As of last week, Charleston's event had 200 registrants with pledges of more than $13,000.

Kryssy Andrash, who participated in Nashville, Tenn.'s run last year and brought the even to Charleston this year, is already pleased with registration and fundraising but is hoping for a last-minute bump in numbers.

"I'm absolutely thrilled, but we do want to get more people involved," says Andrash.

Believe it or not, the weather really shouldn't be a factor for Cupid's Undie Run.

"It's just a short mile, but a very important mile," Andrash says of the need for research on NF.

Most of the event will be held indoors at Loggerhead's Beach Grill, 123 W. Ashley Ave. on Folly Beach. The event, which is open to anyone age 21 and over (ID is required), starts at noon; the run is at 2 p.m. and it's over at 4 p.m.

While spectators are encouraged to watch the loop run along Arctic Avenue, on either side of Center Street, and the beach, all indoor festivities are only for participants, volunteers and restaurant staff.

And for those who may be a little freaked out by wearing underwear, Andrash says it's no less clothing than what you see on the beach during the spring and summer.

The registration fee is $50, though organizers hope that participants will raise money in addition to the fee.

Almost 9 Miler

For those wanting more of a physical challenge, the fourth annual Almost 9 Miler Trail Run will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, starting and finishing at Buck Hall Recreation Area in McClellanville.

The out-and-back course goes along a beautiful, winding trail known as the Awendaw Passage, which hugs the edge of the marsh.

Race director Chad Haffa of Eagle Endurance LLC says he is expecting close to 100 runners for the race, which features a "staggered start" similar to the oldest trail run in the U.S., The Dipsea Race in California.

"The staggered start is based on age and gender. Oldest and youngest, up to age 18, go first. So do most women. The oldest and youngest will start at 9 a.m. and every minute for the next 25 minutes, I will release another group of runners down the trail," says Haffa.

"This starting format drastically levels the playing field to where everyone is equal," says Haffa, noting that no one under the age of 46 has won the event.

"This is the only race in Charleston to use this format. For those looking for a competitive edge or for the older generation of runners that are looking to turn the tables on the more youthful, this is indeed their event," says Haffa.

Post-race events include homemade vegetable soup and awards for the top 10 finishers, as well as the oldest and youngest finishers.

The fee is $50. A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to The Palmetto Conservation Foundation for trail maintenance.

Early packet pick-up and in-person registration will be noon-6 p.m. Friday at Try-Sports in Mount Pleasant and 8-8:30 a.m. Saturday at Buck Hall.

Icebox Open

With the water being an icy 50 degrees, it's time for the first local surfing contest of 2014.

Hard-core surfers will be on alert starting this week for the call on the second annual Ocean Surf Shop Icebox Open, which is held in conjunction with the Eastern Surfing Association.

Based on the surfing conditions, the shop's "expert forecasters" will decide on which of the following hold dates - Saturday or Sunday, Feb. 22-23 and March 1-2 - just days beforehand.

The contest, which drew 40 surfers last year on a cold, dreary afternoon, will start at 8 a.m. on the chosen day. The top cash prizes will be $1,000, along with a $400 for top female and other prizes for the runners-up.

Open divisions will be held for men and women. This year, they will feature an open grom division. There will be four-man heats of 20 minutes, with top surfers advancing to a final, cold, big-money showdown.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.