The much-anticipated 84th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays begin Wednesday and the exciting relationship between Austin and the Relays has people buzzing.
The Texas Relays, known for being the second-largest invitational in the nation, is held annually at Mike A. Myers Stadium on campus. With competitions for high school, college and professional athletes, the Texas Relays have been known to bring in crowds similar in size to those brought in by South By Southwest.
The Texas Relays are expected to bring more than 3,000 athletes and roughly 70,000 spectators to the city this week, according to the Texas athletics department.
“This is why people come to Texas,” said Texas sprinter Marquise Goodwin. “Lots of people come out to support us. Lots of fans and your teammates out there, everybody is just so supportive. Fun times and great memories to remember.”
Over the next four days, the University will host the passion- and fun-filled environment of the Texas Relays. Because the meet does not have a large impact on the overall team standings this season, the relaxation of the talented athletes is sure to feed into the crowd that makes it so special.
“It is a very intimate crowd,” said women’s head coach Beverly Kearney. “[It’s] a very knowledgeable crowd, it’s people who have been here for generations throughout the Texas Relays. It adds historical presence and has a statement of who you are and what you have done.”
Every year, Texas Relays attracts professional athletes from all over the country. This year, Olympians and U.S. track stars Tyson Gay and Jeremy Wariner are set to compete in the 4×400-meter relay race Saturday.
“My favorite part of the Texas Relays is watching the pros run,” said senior high jumper Jamal Wilson. “They bring a lot of excitement to the track meet, and I think that’s the reason why a lot of people come because there are going to be a lot of special faces.”
Other athletes such as former Longhorn and current Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles will also attend, along with vocal artists Eddie Levert, MC Light and Grammy-award winner LeToya Luckett, according to Kearney.
Texas Relays have brought in more than just athletes, artists and cultures from across the nation. They have also brought in floods of competition, from high school to collegiate and professional athletes.
“The facilities here are tier one, basically,” Wilson said. “When you come here, you expect the best. When you have the best facilities, you have to plan on bringing your best performance.”
It’s a unique blend matched by only one peer the annual Penn Relays held in Philadelphia.
“One of my favorite parts [of the Texas Relays] is the dreams I have watched come true,” said Texas men’s head coach Bubba Thornton. “From some of the really young kids to some of the collegiate [athletes], maybe being a champion for the first or a personal best, it is a lifetime memory.”
The Texas Relays, the largest in the South, marks the real beginning of the outdoor season for some.
“I tell my team the Texas Relays is like the most amazing competition ever,” Kearney said. “It really sets the tone for the rest of your season. As they say, this is when the party gets started.”