A 24-mile bike race is back in the hands of the fraternity whose 1951 event inspired it.
The fifth annual McKinley Mile will be on March 31. Early registration for the event is due March 2 and late registration is due March 16.
This is the first year Lambda Chi Alpha is planning and running the McKinley Mile since it stopped hosting the Bike-a-Thon in 2004. One of the biggest changes they have made to the event is having the bikers go north on McKinley Avenue, coordinator Thomas Jacoby said. This way, the bikers will only be making right turns and it is therefore safer. They have also moved the start line to north of the Shafer Tower.
"I think that the biggest thing is, a lot of it is I know as a campus, Ball State wants to try to get away from the idea of, ‘We're a suitcase school and everyone goes home every weekend,'" Jacoby said. "And this is just one of those big events that we like to have to be able to say, ‘Hey, we do stuff.'"
All of the proceeds will benefit Cardinal Greenway, a biking, walking and running path. It is 60 miles long and it runs from Marion through Muncie to Richmond. This is the first year the proceeds will benefit the path.
There will be four categories of bikers that will all compete at once in the Cardinal Relay: pro, student, alumni and community. Awards will be given to the winners of each category.
The course for the Cardinal Relay will be 20 laps across the square of McKinley, Neely, New York and Riverside avenues. Teams will consist of four bikers and an alternate.
In addition to the Cardinal Relay, there will be a race that is less than a mile long. The Benny Dash is meant for riders who do not wish to compete. The participant with the best costume as well as the winner will receive awards.
The Benny Dash course will be from the Shafer Tower to Riverside Avenue and back. Bikers will compete individually.
Students who do not have a bike can rent one from the Student Wellness and Recreation Center.
During the races, McKinley, Neely, New York and Riverside avenues will be closed from 12 p.m. until the end of the race.
There will also be a street fair, which will include a cornhole tournament, music, food, inflatables and rides. Everything is free for students. Tables will be set up from various sponsors as well.
"Our main goal is to let the students know that this event, you don't have to ride in it," committee member Justin Friend said. "You can come and have fun. It's still a fun event even if you don't want to ride."
Last year, 12 teams competed in the McKinley Mile. Jacoby said their goal is to have at least 20 teams for this year.
"With trying to incorporate the street fair and other activities for onlookers, I think we're also going to increase the amount of spectators at the event," Chris Buck, president of Lambda Chi Alpha, said. "That's another personal goal, is to try to push that number up so it does look like a large scale event, and it is a large scale event."
Lambda Chi Alpha is attempting to attract more competitors as well as spectators by having alumni participate. The McKinley Mile is similar to a past event, Bike-a-Thon.
Alumni will recognize Bike-a-Thon, and it will give them a reason to come back to campus and see what is going on at Ball State now, Jacoby said.
The fraternity is also trying to involve more of the community by going out to local cycling clubs.
"A goal of this, I know it's a goal of a lot of organizations, is to try to branch that gap between the Muncie community and Ball State," Buck said. "And so, it's something that we're trying to combat and trying to unite Ball State and the Muncie community through this event."
By making the McKinley Mile a philanthropic event, Buck is hoping that more students will want to participate.
"Students are constantly saying that they want more and fun things to do and they're always pushing for more traditions, and this is a great tradition," he said. "It's in its fifth year now and it's a lot of fun for students, but also, they have an opportunity to give back to Ball State and the Muncie community."
Students wishing to participate must have a GPA of 2.0 or better and be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours. For more information, contact Jacoby by email at McKinleyMile@gmail.com. Applications are available online under the Student Life page on Ball State's website.