When it all started in 1975, most people didn't figure this little road race they'd thrown together to go with the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival was going to amount to much.
"I remember I came to downtown Davenport that morning and asked where they were going to start this 7-mile race," Gary Fischer recalled. "People just looked at me and said ‘What 7-mile race?'"
They don't ask that anymore. Everyone knows about the Quad-City Times Bix 7, set to run for the 35th time on the streets of Davenport on July 25.
Bix 7 organizers unveiled plans for what annually is the largest non-marathon road race in the Midwest during a news conference Wednesday at the Isle of Capri.
As always, executive race director Ed Froehlich and his committee chairmen have added a few fresh twists to enhance the Bix experience.
This year the event will use new state-of-the-art disposable computer chips to time the race, and the popular Brady Street sprint competition has been moved from Friday to Thursday.
And for the second time, the Bix 7 will serve as the U.S. championship race for seven miles. That means only runners who are American citizens will be eligible to win prize money.
The Bix 7 also served as the U.S. championship race in 2002. Froehlich admitted he received some backlash on that occasion, but he hasn't heard a whimper of dissent this time.
"We're not going to have the best runners in the world this year, but they're still going to be great runners," Froehlich said. "We don't get a look at the top Americans enough. By having the U.S. championships here, we're going to get the best in the U.S."
The race, as always, will mostly be populated by ordinary folks. Froehlich said he's hoping the fact that this is the 35th annual race will bring out more runners.
He already knows he is going to have at least five entries. Fischer, Steve Clark, Don Fish, Kerry Gannon and Ed Lillis - the only people who have run in every Bix - all were at Wednesday's gathering, and all said they'll be there in the starting chutes again on July 25.
Bix race weekend
Thursday, July 23: Brady Street Challenge, 7 p.m.
Friday, July 24: Alcoa Junior Bix, 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 25: Quad-City Times Bix 7, 8 a.m.
-- The Bix 7 will serve as the U.S. 7-mile championships, which means only U.S. runners are eligible to win prize money.
-- A Chrono Track Timing System will be used. This is similar to the chip timing system used in the past, but the "D-tags" that runners wear don't need to be returned following the race. They are disposable.
-- The Brady Street Challenge, formerly the Brady Street Sprint, will be held on the Thursday prior to the race. The event previously was on Friday night, after the Alcoa Jr. Bix.
-- A bronze statue of executive race director Ed Froehlich will be erected in Bix Plaza.
-- New Balance has been added as the race's new shoe and apparel sponsor.
-- There will be four Bix at Six training runs prior to the race, with the first one scheduled for June 18.