The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

WTF is up with RKO’s running shorts

Not too many nutty traditions disappear from Grinnell, but when President Osgood leaves at the end of this year, one particular tiny, red, tradition will be going with him. College presidents are not usually spotted at five in the morning sporting red shorts—not to mention tiny red shorts. But since our institution prides itself on its nutso traditions, this week the S&B would like to feature our subtly gung ho RKO—otherwise known as Russell K. Osgood—and ask once and for all WTF is up with RKO’s tiny red running shorts?

The tiny red shorts odyssey all started in the year 1965. “There was this new fad called jogging, and I thought I’d get some running shoes and try it out,” said Osgood. “And I kid you not, the minute I tried it, I loved it.”

After 12 years of running in Grinnell, Osgood has developed an infamous if affectionate reputation as an exhibitionist—an exhibitionist because it can be said that RKO’s attire is somewhat skimpy. And red. And actually not shorts at all. “They’re always the same size because they are bathing suits,” Osgood said, before quickly explaining that he usually goes for a swim after he runs.

“I have about 15 pairs of bathing suits. About half of them are red. I don’t know why I have 15,” Osgood said. “If you see me around my house at night, you’ll see me wearing them. I just wear them as shorts. Not just for running purposes—I wear them when I fly on planes.”

RKO’s choice of color is really to be more visible to drivers, and during his 12 years of running on this campus he hasn’t had too many accidents. “I’ve had several dogs try and bite me,” Osgood said. “It’s always some farm dog who’s not used to people coming by.”

Since Osgood runs at 5 a.m., not too many Grinnellians get the pleasant surprise of spotting him. “I’ve just seen him once,” Raghav Malik ’13 said. “He just popped out from between Spanish house. He just muttered a ‘hi’ and went off in the other direction…I didn’t really expect to see him pop out of nowhere at like five thirty in the morning, but I’d heard about it.”

After a late night romp in a computer lab, Najma Osman ’12, caught a glimpse of the president running through the loggias. “He’s pretty fit for an old man,” Osman said.

At the end of this year, Osgood will be returning to his seacoast hometown where visibility is even less adequate than it is here in the sunny cornfields. With this in mind, he will be adding a new feature to his attire—reflective vests. Grinnellians and townies alike will most likely miss RKO and his tiny red shorts—wait, correction, his tiny red bathing suits.

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