Davenport, IA. – The Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race is one of the American Road Race classics. Now it is 45th year, the Bix 7 is celebrating the final year under the leadership of Ed Froelich who is in his 40th year at the helm as race director.
In his term, Ed transformed the BIX from a local/regional fun run to a national and internationally celebrated event while helping transform the sport of road racing from its amateur past to its professional present.
With the invitation of Marathon superstar Bill Rodgers in 1980 after the USA announced its Olympic boycott, the BIX field doubled in size. Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter also was an early contestant during the Froelich years, and when women’s marathon world record holder Joan Benoit Samuelson began her annual trek to Iowa in 1983, the legacy of excellence was set. International stars just kept on coming.
With the aid of his long time and beyond-able assistant Ellen Hermiston and a cadre of committee heads that Ed tasks then lets alone to do their jobs, the Bix has become a well-oiled machine and the pride of the Quad Cities.
I have been fortunate to be part of the broadcast team on KWQC-TV6 for 27 years, working alongside local legend Thom “TC” Cornelis who will be hosting his 40th and final Bix tomorrow morning.
Another great lineup of athletes will compete in the 45th Bix and you can watch a live stream on KWQC beginning at 7:30 a.m. central time.
Part of what makes the Bix special is its race course. Here’s a preview.
Mile one is dominated by the iconic Brady Street hill, a quarter mile beast with a 7% – 9% degree grade, similar to climbs Tour de France riders face in the Pyrenees and the Alps.
Mile two descends along tree-lined Kirkwood Boulevard, a blazing downhill that is a Siren’s call to speed. But beware, because mile three is a roller coaster, the first half after you turn off Kirkwood going uphill – and it’s a pretty severe little uphill at about 2 1/2 miles – before the next half of mile 3 is downhill as you approach the Mississippi River on McClellan Street.
Then we turn around just before McClellan intersects at State Street running along the river. Now we go back uphill heading toward mile 4 passing many beautiful homes perched atop their well-groomed lawns.
But the climbing is far from over. Now there’s another hump requiring serious attention. No time to peruse the blossoming gardens. And I wouldn’t like to have to mow the lawns on these slopes, either.
Yep, the 4th mile is definitely back up again and then just after the fourth mile sign hanging over the road, you take a right hand turn back up onto Kirkwood where that second mile that you blitzed down is now a wall to climb in mile five.
The course finally flattens out as you pass 5 1/2 miles approaching the end of Kirkwood and the left turn back onto Brady Street. But there is no cruising ahead. Instead, it’s a screaming downhill after all the uphill running. And that steep a drop just pounds your quads as the thick crowds urge you on.
You blow by the start line before turning hard left on Third Street for the final half-mile to the finish line. But don’t be deceived by the huge Bix 7 sign hanging off the train trestle. That’s not the finish. You still have several blocks to go.
Yes, sir, the Bix 7 is a real race course, a real challenge, befitting one of the American road race classics. Congratulations, Ed, you’ve done yourself and your community proud.