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April 24, 2013

The Hudson Relay of 1913

The annual Hudson Relay is this Saturday, April 27. Let’s look back at the Hudson Relay from 1913 - 100 years ago. This account is taken from The Reserve, the Western Reserve University yearbook.

“That popular feature of undergraduate day which originated in the brain of Monroe Curtis -- the Hudson Relay -- has become one of the most looked for events of the week. Never was there greater enthusiasm and rivalry among the students nor greater interest evinced in ‘college doings’ by the friends of the university than on June 9, 1913. Most thorough preparations were made by the undergraduate day committee and the entirely successful race was due to its well planned work. At two o’clock the runners, twenty-four from each class, were taken from the campus in automobiles and one from each class stationed at every mile post along the route from the former campus of Western Reserve at Hudson, Ohio. At 3:00 o’clock the message from Mayor Sullivan to President Thwing was handed to the Senior captain, Arthur Portmann. ‘Doc’ Von den Steinen’s revolver cracked and the long grind had begun. A chart ten feet in length had been placed upon the steps of the main building at Adelbert so that by little flags placed in accordance with telephone messages from different houses along the road, it was possible for the anxious throng awaiting the runners to watch their progress.

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Runners transferring the baton

“A surprise was in store for everyone. In the estimation of all, the real race was between Freshmen and Sophomores. But it wasn’t long before the chart showed the Seniors far in the lead. Some began to doubt their eyes, for the number of Seniors who are in training near the close of their college career is limited rather exclusively to those who were on the track team. But before long the source of the Seniors’ surprising strength was apparent. It was gasoline! That is, they had ridden in friendly automobiles to save breath.

“The race the year before had been close, in fact the class of 1915 won it by only ten yards. Predictions were that this race would be close also. The sophomores forged ahead in the second mile and had acquired almost a quarter of a mile lead in the first half of that distance. But this was not to endure, for several runners of ‘16’s best quality pulled up, up up, until at the 19th relay both Sophomore and Freshman were even. Then Greek met Greek, and a true tug of war ensued. Up and down the hills and over the never-ending level stretches they fought, followed by frenzied, wildly cheering adherents in dust-covered machines. Finally Ehlert, Herbert and Shimansky, three picked men from 1915, were pitted against Volk, Schuele and Atwood of 1916. Each ran the race of his life to give his class the lead on the home stretch. Finally the last runners were reached. Parrish, the sophomore vice-president, substitute runner for President Rosenberger, was given a lead by Shimansky. Taylor, Freshman president, came flying along behind, bending every effort to make up the intervening space. But the strain was too much and he suddenly collapsed, having run only about half a mile. Baird, captain of the Freshmen team, was riding along side in an automobile. Upon seeing Taylor fall he jumped out and took up the race, and being comparatively fresh he soon gained on Parrish, then passed him and crossed the tape ten seconds before the latter. Great was the joy among the Freshmen, but on the protest of the Sophomores a consultation of judges was held. When the facts had been rehearsed, victory was awarded the 1915 team, since Taylor did not finish his mile, but allowed another to run the last half, which was obviously unfair. It was the ’15’s turn to rejoice. The mishap was unfortunate, but wherever victory went, both teams deserved credit for their remarkable physical endurance and fighting spirit which kept the result always in doubt. The official distance was given as 22.8 miles; the time of the winning team 2 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds.

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Runner dashes through the crowd of spectators

Both Junior and Senior presidents followed later in turn, the latter carrying Mayor Sullivan’s message, which read as follows:

“The relay race of today affords the people of Hudson an opportunity to send you this message of appreciation of the interest which your University continues to manifest in this village, the birth-place of your University. We are glad to assure you upon this occasion that the old Western Reserve College grounds at Hudson are being modernized and will continue to be an educational institution which we hope will be a source of pride and usefulness to Western Reserve University as it is sure to be to the people of this village. I extend to you the best wishes of the people for the success of Western Reserve University and the continued usefulness of this annual race.”

Learn more about the history of the Hudson Relay. View images from past Hudson Relays in Digital Case.

Posted by hxy2 at April 24, 2013 01:34 PM

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