Bed Races staple of Homecoming weekend

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Bed Races staple of Homecoming weekend

Teams race down lanes separated by cones from one end of 12th Street to the other. Marquette Wire stock photo.

Teams race down lanes separated by cones from one end of 12th Street to the other. Marquette Wire stock photo.

Teams race down lanes separated by cones from one end of 12th Street to the other. Marquette Wire stock photo.

Teams race down lanes separated by cones from one end of 12th Street to the other. Marquette Wire stock photo.

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In 1966, a small group in the United Kingdom called the Knaresborough Round Table sought to hold a unique charity event for its newly formed society — and no simple 5K or tug of war would do. After a lot of brainstorming, the idea of a bed race was born, according to the Knaresborough Bed Race website. Ever since then, the tradition has lived on in the Round Table’s hometown and has spread to many different regions and countries, including right here on Marquette’s campus.

The Marquette Bed Races have been a Homecoming tradition since 2016, when Homecoming found its way back onto Marquette’s calendar after a 23-year absence. Every Friday of Homecoming week, participants, spectators and commentators alike gather in front of the Al McGuire Center for one central purpose: to watch teams push full-size beds as fast as they can across the finish line.

Each bed race team is composed of five people: four people pushing the bed and one person in the bed, all wearing themed costumes unique to each team. While the original race consisted of 2.4 miles of sharp turns, steep hills and even a 20-yard river crossing, the Marquette version is merely a straight shot on 12th Street between Wisconsin and Wells.

The competition starts with coordinators placing each team in a bracket. The teams are then gradually eliminated until one team remains on top. There are awards for the top three team finishers and the best team costume.

Mady Marko, a senior in the College of Nursing, was a member of the winning bed race team in 2017. Last year, Marko was a part of University President Michael Lovell’s second-place team, which lost narrowly to the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

Each year, Lovell’s bed race team dons matching Marquette varsity letter sweaters.

Marko is a track and field athlete and was placed on Lovell’s team through her connections in athletics.

“I met him in an airport right after I committed to Marquette,” Marko said. “When I was on his team for bed races, I told him, and he remembered me.”

Marko said bed races helped her build a personal connection with Lovell.

“When I see him on campus, I’ll say hi,” she said.

The event is not exclusive to current Marquette students, either. Katie Korek, a 2018 graduate from the College of Arts & Sciences, participated last year on the United Performing Arts Fund team.

“Bed races were brought up in a meeting between members of our UPAF team and Marquette staff,” Korek said. “We have a lot of Marquette alumni in the office so we thought bed races would be a great way to promote our organization and have a fun bonding afternoon.”

The UPAF team wore costumes representing different sectors of the performing arts that the members work with. While they did not win, Korek said the team had a blast.

“It was an afternoon full of laughs and a great opportunity to bond as a team,” Korek said. “It was also great to be among the camaraderie of Marquette students, staff, alumni and supporters.”

Although a large number of people participate in the race, the event also boasts a large number of spectators. Maddie Hoss, a senior in the College of Business Administration, served as a Homecoming intern in 2017. Hoss said Bed Races is fun to just come and watch.

“It is just not something you see every day — it is a different kind of activity,” Hoss said. “You get the competition level that comes with having a race, but it is also just fun to watch people run down 12th in beds.”

The 2019 Homecoming Bed Races will take place Friday at 4 p.m. outside the Al McGuire Center.

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