The first of four Bix at Six training runs kicks off Thursday, bringing hundreds, sometimes thousands, of runners and walkers to downtown Davenport and the rest of the Bix course. 

And for Cornbelt Running Club President Paul Schmidt, who oversees Bix at Six, it's a sign the Quad-City Times Bix 7, set for July 29, is almost here.

“Bix is the marquee event here,” Schmidt said. “These runs build excitement and get people ready for the race.”

Read on for 10 things to know about the Bix at Six.

1. How it started

Shortly after the 7-mile race was founded in 1975, a casual group of runners began getting together weekly to train along the course. 

“It got to be pretty popular, so we said, ‘Let’s control this a bit more,’” Schmidt said. 

The result: Bix at Six. 

Over time, officials settled on offering four training runs — instead of six or eight — as part of the official Bix at Six, which typically follows the exact route of the 7-mile race.

"Four works really well," he said. "We want to get in and out of there, so we're not too much in the way of neighborhood traffic." 

2. When and where

The training run begins at 6 p.m. Thursday. Additional training runs are scheduled for June 29, July 6 and July 13. The runs begin and end on the north side of the Quad-City Times building, at the intersection of 4th and LeClaire streets. Schmidt and other officials discourage running the race route aside from these days.

“We try to encourage people to run during these limited times when volunteers are there and the police department is there," he said, adding that the window for Bix at Six closes at 7:30 p.m. "It’s a safer environment this way." 

3. Route changes

The first two training runs — Thursday and June 29 — will be rerouted because of roadwork being done on Brady Street. Instead of running up the Brady Street hill, participants will take Pershing Avenue, which is two blocks east, up to Kirkwood Boulevard and turn right. For the final two Bix at Six's — set for July 6 and July 13 — the route returns to normal.

4. Parking

Parking is available to the public in the Quad-City Times  lot, located at 500 E. 3rd St., and other public areas around downtown Davenport. 

5. Water stops

Water stations, provided by Iowa American Water, will be available at the start and end of the run. Other stations will be set up on Kirkwood Boulevard, shortly after turning right off of Pershing Avenue, and at the turnaround on McClellan Boulevard. If tradition holds, you can expect others to hand out water along the route on Thursdays.

6. After-parties

Want to keep the fun going after the 7-mile run? Schmidt said plenty of participants take to downtown Davenport establishments for impromptu after-parties. As part of Food Truck Thursdays, food vendors are expected to be set up near Bechtel Park at the intersection of 2nd and Iowa streets in Davenport on Thursday. Other popular post-Bix at Six spots include Great River Brewery, 332 E. 2nd St., and Analog Arcade Bar, 302 Brady St.

7. What about the Brady Street Sprints?

Want to conquer the Brady Street hill? Here’s your chance: The Brady Street Sprints return on Thursday, July 27. The finals feature several quarter-mile races up the hill, which sits at about a 7 percent to 9 percent grade, or 4 to 5 degrees.

• Men's open

• Women's open

• Men ages 30-39

• Women ages 30-39

• Men's masters (ages 40 and over)

• Women's masters (ages 40 and over)

• Boys high school relay

• Girls high school relay

• Corporate relay (open to sponsors of the Quad-City Times Bix 7)

To enter the Brady Street Sprints, you have to qualify in one of two time trials. Because of roadwork being done on Brady Street, only two qualifying rounds will be held this year, at 7 p.m. following the July 6 and 13 training runs. The time trials start at the intersection of 5th and Brady streets. Several of the top finishers each night will move on to the final round of the Brady Street Sprints.

8. Want more training?

If you’re looking to train for the Bix with a group, Cornbelt Running Club offers weekly meet-ups this summer. The runs feature a variety of paces, “from walking up to super fast,” Schmidt said.

“It’s a really welcoming running community,” he said. “You can fill in with people who are at the same phase or pace as you.”

Try track workouts at 6 p.m. Tuesdays at Augustana College, between 7th Avenue and 38th Street, or a Wednesday night run that ends at a different restaurant — such as Moe's Burgers and Brews in Rock Island or Circle Tap or Van's Pizza — each week. Find a full schedule at cornbelt.org. In addition, stores such as Fleet Feet Sports Davenport offer social runs. For more info, visit fleetfeetdavenport.com.

9. Tips for new runners

The “allure” of the Bix 7 course, Schmidt said, is that it’s no walk in the park.

“It’s not an easy route, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s not a flat 5k. If you want to be challenged, this is it.”

Because of that, Schmidt encourages runners and walkers who are new to the course to know — and follow — their own pace during Bix at Six and on race day. 

“If it’s not your day, back off a bit,” he said. “It’s usually a little hotter during these first few runs, so walk if you need to.”

Plus, he said, the out-and-back loop “makes its super easy to turn around and come back,” if needed.

“For experienced runners, seven miles is just another run, but that’s not everybody,” he said.

10. How to register for the race

The 43rd Quad-City Times Bix 7 is set to start at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 29. Join thousands of participants and elite runners in the 7-mile race or the 2-mile Quick Bix. Registration is open at qctimes.com/bix. Prior to July 1, the entry fee is $43. After that, it goes up to $48.

Race weekend also includes Arconic’s Jr. Bix — for kids 12 and under — at 6 p.m. Friday, July 28, at the Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport. Registration costs $16 for that race.

Online registration ends at noon Friday, July 28. You also can mail registration forms to Quad-City Times Bix 7, P.O. Box 4526, Davenport, Iowa. The last chance to register is in person during packet pick-up sessions on July 27-28 at the RiverCenter, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport.

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Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).