Thursday April 5, 2012Gators Set to Host 68th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays
The Florida track and field teams take to their home track this weekend to host the 68th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays, at the Percy Beard Track at James G. Pressly Stadium. The event takes place this Friday-Saturday, April 6-7, beginning at 9 a.m. both days.
Gates open at 8 a.m. ET on both Friday and Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and $1 for UF students with a valid UF student ID per day. Live results for the meet may be found at www.deltatiming.com. Complete coverage of the Pepsi Florida Relays can be found at www.gatorzone.com/trackfield/floridarelays.
FLORIDA RELAYS HISTORY
The Florida Relays first began 73 years ago in 1939, thanks to the vision and creativeness of the Gators' legendary head track and field coach Percy Beard. Since that first meet, the Pepsi Florida Relays have grown in epic proportions from the small regional competitions on April Fools’ Day that featured 209 competitors, to one of the nation's premier track and field meets.
Florida, Alabama, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, the University of Havana and Palm Beach Junior College composed the university division of the inaugural Florida Relays, while Daytona Beach, Lake City, Live Oak, Miami Senior, Ocala, Palm Beach, Riverside Military Academy, Jacksonville Lee and St. Petersburg competed in the nine-team high school division.
The Florida Relays were established after the Southern Relays, held at Georgia Tech, were discontinued in the 1930s. Coach Beard was forced to create a new meet or travel hundreds of miles north to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays. Beard's coaching peers throughout the southeast were receptive to the idea and the Florida Relays were born.
Since its inception, the Florida Relays has grown in both stature and size. Previously regarded nationally as the first major event of the collegiate outdoor track and field season, the Relays once swelled from a one-day inaugural event featuring slightly more than 200 athletes to a four-day extravaganza that attracted more than 3,000 athletes from the high school, collegiate and international ranks.
In 2007, a new era of the Florida Relays began as the meet was shifted on the track and field calendar to the first weekend in April and the competition took place during the course of two days instead of four.
The Relays have been held every year since 1939 except during World War II (1942-46) and in 2006 when construction to facilities surrounding Percy Beard Track prevented the meet from being contested. The first 15 meets were held on the cinder track at Graham Field, south of Florida Field. In 1959, UF's track and field complex was moved to its present location.
The 1959 Florida Relays was a historical meet, as the University of Florida unveiled the first all-weather track surface in the world. The Asphalt grasstex surface was another of Coach Percy Beard's many track innovations. That surface remained in place until a nine-lane Chevron 400 rubberized surface was installed and a Rekortan surface was put in place during the summer of 1991.
Starting with the 2012 Florida Relays, athletes have the benefit running on a completely renovated track. More than $725,000 was poured into a new Mondo surface, which included renovating the additional 30 feet of track space at the southwest corner of the stadium, installed in 2007.
With 20 Gator sporting events occurring on campus this weekend, fans of the Orange and Blue will have multiple parking opportunities to support their teams.
In addition to the annual Orange & Blue Debut, there will be plenty of other Gator teams in action over the weekend. The baseball team hosts a three-game series against LSU (Thursday-Saturday), softball hosts Ole Miss (Friday-Sunday), women’s tennis hosts Arkansas (Friday) and LSU (Sunday) and the annual Pepsi Florida Relays will be held at Percy Beard Track (Friday-Saturday). In off-season action, the Florida volleyball team will host their spring tournament against UCF and USF in the Southwest Recreation Center on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
On both Friday and Saturday, event parking is available in the O’Connell Center Garage, the Levin Law School and Fraternity Row on a first-come, first-serve basis for all events.
There is also a free parking shuttle that will deliver fans to all of the action going on around campus Friday and Saturday. With the No. 1 Gator baseball team's series against No. 7 LSU at 7 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday in McKethan Stadium and the track & field teams hosting the Pepsi Florida Relays both days, fans are strongly encouraged to use the parking shuttles to reach their destination.
Shuttle service from the commuter lot on Gale Lemerand Drive begins at 3 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. The buses will stop at the right-field gate in front of the Lemerand Center for access to the baseball game and the Pepsi Florida Relays. The shuttles will run for 30 minutes following the conclusion of the event which is completed last and the return pick-up point will be in the same location.
Fans coming to campus for the Pepsi Florida Relays and the Gator baseball’s matchup with LSU on Saturday are encouraged to come onto campus via Radio Road off SW 34th Street to avoid traffic associated with the Orange and Blue Debut, presented by Sunniland, in and around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Please see the map for shuttle route.
For all of the latest information on Florida track and field, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/trackfield or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida track and field on Twitter at @GZTrackField or www.twitter.com/GZTrackField. You can also find the Gators on Facebook.