World's Best To Compete In Downtown Lawrence In Kansas Relays Events

April 16, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. – As if the opportunity to see the world’s top three, three of the top five and five of the top 10 shot putters in the world compete at the Kansas Relays in Lawrence this week wasn’t enough, the event is free and will be held in a unique venue – downtown Lawrence.

Eighth Street between Massachusetts and New Hampshire Streets will be turned into a “playground” for some of the best shot putters in the world for Wednesday night’s competition. The event is free to the public and is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Another free event – the long jump – will be held downtown Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Approximately 125 cubic yards – 18 dump-truck loads – of crushed limestone will be laid out on Eighth Street to create a shot put pit for some of the most entertaining competitors in the sport of track and field.

“The throwers are very excited about it,” said KU Relays meet director Milan Donley. “Our whole motivation is to try to have an hour and one-half event that would attract the non-track people to come see an event. We think the shot put is that. It is exciting to watch.

“The throwers are animated and entertaining,” Donley added. “We think it is exciting to have people throw 16-pound balls more than 70 feet. That is a long way.”

“It creates a reason for people to come downtown to see things that have never happened before,” said Bob Sanner, Sports Marketing Director for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is history in the making so to speak.”

The city of Lawrence workers will start setting up the event a little after 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to Sanner. The city will then clean up after the event.

“By 11 o’clock that night, no one will even know we were there,” Sanner said.

Sanner said the limestone will be recycled and used by the city in some of its upcoming projects.

Donley compared moving the shot put event away from the Relays to the separation of bull riding from the rodeo. The bull riders broke off from the rodeo and have been very successful. Donley said the shot put has a lot of excitement to it.

“What a great opportunity to showcase world class competition in an event which is free to the public,” Donley sad.

“The shot put is something that most people don’t get a chance to see because it is contested outside of the stadium (at meets), but they can come downtown and be just a few feet away from the competitors and see them in action,” Sanner said.

Bios on the shot put competitors can be found here.

The shot put is not the only downtown event. Thursday night will feature the long jump. That event will also take place on Eighth Street, but on the west side of Mass Street between Mass, and Vermont.

An added twist has been made to the long jump. There is not expected to be a foul line as jumps will be measured from the point of take off.

“This could lead to some spectacular jumps because the competitors won’t have to worry about their steps at the foul line,” Sanner said. “This could lead to people really exploding and taking off.”

A runway will be laid out and the landing area will be composed of very fine sand, which will be like sand found in bunkers on golf courses.

The Relays will take place Wednesday, April 20 through Saturday, April 23. Ticket information, event schedules and features are available on the Kansas Relays Home Page.