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Little 500 tradition pedals ahead at IU Bloomington on April 11-12

Every April since 1951, the Little 500 at Indiana University has marked the beginning of spring and the coming end of another academic year. This year is no different. The men's and women's bicycle races are scheduled for April 11-12 on the Bloomington campus.

The women's Little 500 will begin at 4 p.m. Friday, April 11, and the men's race will start at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 12. Both races will take place in Bill Armstrong Stadium, located off Fee Lane, just north of its intersection with 17th Street.

The races are patterned after the Indianapolis 500 with up to 33 teams lining up for the start in 11 rows of three. Starting positions are determined by qualifying times, with the fastest team nabbing the pole. As many as four riders can compete on a team. When one rider on a team is tired, he or she exchanges the bicycle with a teammate. The women's race is 25 miles -- 100 laps on a quarter-mile cinder track. The men's race is 50 miles -- 200 laps on the same track.

Any full-time undergraduate student at IU Bloomington can ride in the Little 500, and most riders have never competed in any other cycling race.

Both bicycle races will be preceded by a running relay event, the Little Fifty, beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 10. Twenty-five teams of four runners each, in both men's and women's races, compete in a 50-lap relay. Any IU Bloomington undergraduate student who is a non-varsity runner may compete. The race sprang from a desire to involve more students and increase participation in overall Little 500 activities.

The Little 500 bicycle race began as a way to raise scholarship money for working students. To date, the event has raised more than $1.4 million for that cause. The race also has been the subject of an Academy Award-winning film, Breaking Away, and numerous news reports and sports broadcasts. Its history also is told in a documentary, Free Wheels, which is available on DVD.

Once again, both Little 500 races will be presented live nationally in high-definition television by HDNet.

ESPN columnist Jim Caple placed the Little 500 at 26th on his list of "101 things all sports fans must experience before they die," ahead of the Indianapolis 500 and the Kentucky Derby. "The Little 500 has just about everything you could want in a college weekend. Exciting races between true student-athletes competing for little more than the thrill of sport," he wrote last July.

Since 1988, IU women have competed in the same two-wheeled Little 500 bike race as the men and have thoroughly established themselves as part of the larger Little 500 tradition. Teter edged out Delta Gamma for the pole during qualifications on March 22. Last year's winner, Kappa Delta, qualified third.

In the 58th running of the men's race, Sigma Alpha Mu has the pole. The Cutters, which won their eighth Little 500 last year, qualified 13th.

All-event tickets, which provide access into all Little 500 races, are $25 for adults and $10 for children aged 12 and under. They are available at all Ticketmaster locations -- including the IU Auditorium Box Office and TIS Bookstore and online at Single-event adult tickets are $5 for Little Fifty, $15 for the women's race and $20 for the men's race. Single-event tickets will be sold only at the gate of each event. Go to for more information.

Other entertainment options will be available in addition to the official Little 500 events:

  • The Indiana Memorial Union Board and Spirit of '68 Promotions are bringing Grammy Award nominated pop sensation Feist as the 2008 Little 500 concert. She will play at the IU Auditorium on April 11 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are on sale at the IU Auditorium Box Office, Ticketmaster locations and online at and Student tickets are $25 with an IU Bloomington ID and $28 for the general public.
  • The IU Soul Revue will present its annual spring concert on April 12 at 8 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children and IU students with advance purchase (limit 2 per IU I.D.). Tickets are available at the Sunrise Box Office, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.