Gary Fischer was not competing to win the Quad-City Times Bix 7 road race. Another reason kept him coming back.
"When you're one of four left to do it you got to keep it going till you're the last one," said Fischer, 74, of Iowa City, who has run all 42 of the annual races through Davenport.
Saturday morning's race attracted 14,280 runners and walkers, slightly more than last year and well beyond the 84 who ran the first Bix in 1975.
The cloud cover was a blessing for runners. The 8 a.m. race-start temperature was 72 degrees, cooler than last year but a degree higher than the average when comparing all the Bix races.
"We had a happy, happy crowd today," said Ellen Hermiston, race operations director.
Runners complained of humidity along the tree line of Kirkwood Boulevard, she said. Otherwise, the breeze "made all the difference."
The dew point was 66 and the humidity was 81 percent, said National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Pierce.
"Once dew points are in the mid-60s, people start feeling uncomfortable," Pierce said.
There was a steady stream of runners in the medical tents, but the tents were not as packed as in years when the starting temperature was hotter. Clouds seemed to spare many from dehydration.
Joseph Carpenter, of Fort Worth, Texas, drew some attention on the race course – not for his speed, but for his passenger.
Carpenter tackled the whole course carrying his 19-month-old daughter, Holli.
On the way down the Brady Street hill, he explained why. “The babysitter got sick this morning, and we can’t use a stroller, so ..."
The Carpenters came all the way from Texas for the Bix 7 and rather than toss in the towel, Carpenter bundled Holli into his arms for her first Bix.
The two drew cheers from spectators along parts of the course. But, with less than a mile to go, Carpenter looked like he could use a breather. “Mama has long since finished, I’m sure,” he said.
Many in the crowds cheered on the participants, even those with a birds-eye view.
Perched atop the Forrest Block lofts, Olympian contender Aleta Jokisch's proud family showed support for her first Bix 7. Her parents, Lisa and Kevin Jokisch, and her older sister, Elizabeth Jokisch, picked her out as she and the other elite runners left the starting line.
"She just missed qualifying for the Olympic trials by about a minute," said Quad-City native Lisa Jokish, now of St. Louis.
Aleta Jokish, who turns 26 next week, had always heard about the Bix but had never run in it, her mother said, adding that Aleta lived in Davenport the first year of her life. She now resides in Tucson, Arizona.
The family, who returned to the Quad-Cities to see old friends, hoped the race was going to be her warm-up for the Rio Olympics.
Instead, her mother said, "Now, she's starting working on the next Olympics. We are very proud."
Michelle Welborn, Becky Tanner and Pam Howard, three sisters from Fort Madison, Iowa, celebrated Welborn's birthday and retirement by running the Bix 7.
"I come up here with my sisters every year," said Welborn, 62, who is running her eighth Bix. "We come up here to celebrate my birthday. This year, we're celebrating my birthday and my retirement from the (Iowa) Department of Corrections as a correctional officer after 24 years. Yee haw!"
"We partied last night," said Tanner, 59.
Seasoned runners encouraged their children, some of whom participated for the first time.
"Put on the music, get in the zone and rock out," Michelle McAleer of Davenport told her 12-year-old daughter, Kate, minutes before the race began.
Saturday's race was McAleer's ninth and Kate's first.
"I'm nervous," Kate McAleer said. "I don't know what the course is like."
"She plays soccer and basketball," Michelle McAleer said of her daughter. "But this is a whole different deal getting up Brady Street."
(Ed Tibbetts and Jennifer DeWitt contributed to this report.)