Thursday, April 3, 2008

Texas Relays A Sporting, Cultural Event

Everything in Texas is bigger. And the Texas Relays are no exception to the rule. Track and field is not just a sport, it’s a culture in the great state of Texas. A quick check of the facts reveals that, according to the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, the meet brought in 200,000 visitors, $8 million to the city, and is the second largest relay meet in the country.

The 81st running of the Texas Relays takes places at the Mike A. Meyers Stadium on the University of Texas, Austin campus from April 5 – 8. Races are held in the high school, college, university, and invitational divisions for relays events.

The relay meet is almost surreal for track fans. Texas Relays is an example what track can be in North America. The meets popularity is due in part to the fab meet management operations and marketing by the University of Texas staff. It also helps that the track federation has little to do with Texas Relay.

From the world class runners to the packed stands and runners of tomorrow-- it’s no surprise to those who have attended that the meet continually gets bigger each year. The fervent fans are aware of the key match ups and cheer loudly during the race. The stadium buzzes with speculation on who will win relay match ups.

It’s almost a right of passage for pro sprinters to place their feet on the track. Past legends to have run at Texas Relays include: Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell, and Maurice Green to name just a few.

Some coaches, athletes, former athletes, fans, meet officials, and timers have come to Texas Relays for years without missing a meet. It’s also a social gathering to see and be seen. The Urban Music Festival presented by Dell is back in downtown Austin for a third year featuring Jeffrey Osbourne, After 7, and Trey Songz. Fans are also promised a guest appearance from former Longhorn standout Vince Young. Only in Texas baby!

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a Track Evangelist.

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