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Opinion

Opinion

Welcome Relays

Staging a couple of spotlight events in downtown Lawrence helps build enthusiasm for the Kansas Relays tradition.

April 18, 2012

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Kansas Relays, welcome back to downtown Lawrence.

The track and field event, starting today and running through Saturday, features two competitions in downtown Lawrence. The shot put kicks off the Relays at 6 p.m. today on East Eighth Street between Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets. At 6 p.m. Thursday, the women’s long jump will be staged on West Eighth Street between Massachusetts and Vermont streets. The remainder of the events are at Memorial Stadium.

The Kansas Relays, which attracts high school athletes to Olympians, is marking its 85th year. It brings national attention to Lawrence among track and field fans who are gearing up for the London Olympics this summer.

The event is a special opportunity for local residents to see athletes who may be competing in the London games.

Last year, for the first time, the shot put competition was moved to downtown Lawrence. The shot put pit was nestled in the intersection of Eighth and New Hampshire streets and attendees witnessed some of the world’s best athletes demonstrating their skill. This year’s field will include seven shot putters who are ranked among the top 20 in the world.

The competition attracted an estimated 2,500 people to downtown who might not have previously gone to a Kansas Relays event. Those fans also spent money, benefiting the city and local businesses. It was so successful that officials decided to again hold two events downtown this year.

Even if you aren’t an avid track and field fan, it’s fun to see events like the shot put and long jump up close and personal. Another related attraction that also will benefit the community will be the creation of an 80-foot long, 2-foot wide and 10-inch deep plate of nachos at Memorial Stadium. Between noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Salty Iguana and Centerplate will be trying to set a world record of their own for the largest plate of nachos. People with a Kansas Relays ticket and a canned food donation (or a cash donation to the LINK meals program) can dig in to the nachos.

So, welcome back, Kansas Relays. It’s been a great relationship for many years that’s simply getting better over time.

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