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Somehow, it was fitting.

In announcing Wednesday that the theme for the 44th annual Quad-City Times Bix 7 is the "Year of the Family," Ed Froehlich confirmed that there will be a new head of household for the Bix 7 family in the not-too-distant future.

Froehlich, 71, plans to step down as the director of the popular race through the streets of Davenport following the 2019 Bix 7 and hand the reins to Michelle Juehring, one of his longtime assistants.

Froehlich decided long ago that he was going to give up the directorship, but until Wednesday he had not spoken openly to many members of the media about Juehring being his replacement.

She already is shadowing Froehlich and director of operations Ellen Hermiston to get a full understanding of how the race operates.

"She’s training this year, and she’ll train next year," Froehlich said. "I’m going to be here for the 45th anniversary race. It will be my 40th year, and then she’ll take over. But she’ll be ready by that time. Ellen is quitting also. It will be Ellen’s last year along with mine next year."

Juehring, 51, has been involved with the race for 15 years as one of several assistant race directors, and she has overseen the fitness expo held in conjunction with the event for the past five years.

"I’m so humbled and honored to be chosen," she said. "I’ve been living here in the Quad-Cities for 21 years, and I’m a Midwest girl from Wisconsin and I’ve always been a runner, always been competitive in sports.

"This is a dream come true. This is a dream job right here. I’m excited. I’m ready."

In speaking about this year’s race, scheduled for July 28, Froehlich emphasized that he really wants to promote the "Year of the Family" theme.

"There’s something for everybody in the family," he said. "The dad and mom can run the Bix 7 or the Quick Bix. The kids can run the Jr. Bix 7."

Froehlich announced a handful of other changes for the race.

There will be a new online registration system operated by GetMeRegistered, a Bettendorf-based company that handles registrations for races all over the country.

"It had always been done by the Quad-City Times, but we tried something else last year that didn’t work," Froehlich said. "I feel like we’ve hit a pot of gold with GetMeRegistered."

The Brady Street Sprints, the quarter-mile uphill race that is held on the Thursday night prior to the big race, will have a new name as Genesis Orthopedic Hospital takes over as the title sponsor.

The main Bix 7 race will go back to being open to runners from around the world after serving as the U.S. championship race for seven miles last year.

Froehlich also said the race’s three legendary participants — Bill Rodgers, Joan Samuelson and Meb Keflezighi — all are planning to participate again. It will be the 39th consecutive year Rodgers has been to the Bix.

Keflezighi, the only American runner in the past 35 years to win both the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon, was supposed to run last year but had to cancel because of other commitments. Froehlich said he will be here this time for sure.

"Meb will be back," Froehlich said. "He has retired from marathons, but he’s still road racing. He has won the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon, but he really loves the Bix."

It also will mark the third time the Bix 7 has been run on the same day and in close proximity to the finish line of RAGBRAI, a bicycle race that traverses the width of the state of Iowa.

"Yeah, those bicycle guys are coming in again," Froehlich said. "The first time I was apprehensive about it, but it doesn’t really infringe on our event at all."

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