Whether you're walking, jogging or running up Brady Street, music is necessary at the steepest portion of the hill.

Competitors count on those tunes — live and recorded — for that extra boost during the running of the Quad-City Times Bix 7, and Robert Morse is the man responsible for the event's audio system in and around downtown Davenport.

"I've been working since noon yesterday," Morse said about 6:30 a.m. Saturday. "I got about an hour of sleep in my truck."

Hundreds of other early-bird workers, volunteers and spectators started their day before dawn, hours before the race's 8 a.m. start.

After helping with the Alcoa Jr. Bix 7 Friday night, Morse headed back to his station near the intersection of 4th and Brady streets. 

"I had to babysit this equipment," said Morse, who works for Port Byron-based BOS Electronics. "It's thousands of dollars' worth of equipment, so we can't just leave it here."

Terry Stone, a longtime musician known for his classic Elvis, Neil Diamond and Louis Armstrong covers, enlisted Morse's expertise as he set up his speakers.

"This is my spot," said Stone, who's been performing for Quick Bixers at the bottom of the Perry Street Hill for almost a decade. "I try to make everything sound like the original recordings, and that's what they expect when they come down here." 

In preparation for the main event, party-goers and hosts lined Kirkwood Boulevard early. 

Nicole Ledger woke up at 4:30 a.m. to start cooking at her father's annual house party on the corner of Kirkwood and Perry.

Her menu included scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, Bloody Marys and "lots of beer."

Leo Anderson, a retired Davenport firefighter who lives in the northwest part of the city, parked his car along Perry Street and landed a spot at one of Ledger's 14 canopied picnic tables in the 200 block of Kirkwood.

"I ran enough in the military," said Anderson, who prefers watching the race. "I'm 75 years old, and I've got bad knees and a bad back."

In the 500 block of Kirkwood, Sean Troncao woke up at 4:45 a.m. to prep the scene, which included a 20-foot by 50-foot makeshift slip-and-slide. 

"We've got 15,000 people running in front of our house, so why not?" Troncao said. "People always look forward to this." 

Cindy Kaim of Clinton watched the race in person for the first time. She found a spot in the 400 block of Kirkwood to watch her son, who ran his first-ever Bix 7. 

"I've always watched the race on TV, but I've never been down here for it," she said. "I just hope I can pick him out."

Front-porch performers, who help define the annual race, also assumed their go-to positions early.

Members of the Quad-City Ukulele Club strummed their small four-stringed guitars on a median between Iowa Street and Pershing Avenue. At 414 Kirkwood, Robert Dahms rocked a rare 1956 Stratocaster guitar.

Just 10 minutes before the race began, Lisa Lacy briefed her water station volunteers on the correct hand-off technique near the intersection of Kirkwood and Farnam Street. 

"We don't force it on them, so if they say, 'Throw it on me,' we're not going to toss it on them," Lacy stressed. 

Shortly before the motorcade arrived, Kyle Park, a youth pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church in Rock Island, led the group in prayer. The Quad-City transplant from South Carolina couldn't believe the morning crowds. 

"I didn't realize how big this thing was," he said. "It's really cool."


Jack Cullen writes about various sides of life across the Quad-City area in his Notes @ Noon column, and he also covers the outdoors. When he’s not working, you can find him on the tennis court, where he serves as a coach at Augustana College in Rock Island, his alma mater.