Entertainment for Bix 7 is in good hands | Local News

Managing 110 portable toilets and 10 Elvis impersonators, the job description is everywhere.

As a musician and runner, Chris Nelson can keep up.

He leads the entertainment committee for this year’s Quad-City Times Bix 7, stepping in after the death last year of chairman Rick McGrath. Also an assistant race director, McGrath died in December from complications related to COVID-19.

“The end of May is when I really started to dive into all of this,” Nelson said. “Replacing Rick McGrath is a huge undertaking. I’m learning as I go. He’s done a lot – he’s done it.”

Part of the job is juggling two dozen entertainment acts, ranging from cheerleaders and drum lines to pipers, bands and the local ukulele club.

As music director of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Davenport and organist at Augustana College in Rock Island, Nelson knows music. Thanks to Bix Race Director Michelle Juehring, he also knows about running.

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The two worked together at church and often ran together, although Nelson didn’t take it seriously until just a few years ago.

“I always swore I would never run a marathon, and I’m running three this year,” he said. “I like running, I get lost in running. When I turned 40, I decided to start changing things.”

Those changes were largely the result of a health scare, which inspired Nelson to “get out of my element,” he said.

“Now it’s time to share what I take away from it,” he said. “Since everything with my health, I wanted to enjoy my life. I try not to get upset about things.

“It makes you look at your life and make sure you’re enjoying it. It’s important to have a good time and be with your friends and community – enjoy a beer together after a race.”

Contributing to the animation of the Bix course meets two objectives: sharing the love of music and the love of running.

“I found a community in running and I want other people to benefit from it,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity to pass on a passion.”

New leadership can produce change, and Nelson said race organizers had a few things in mind, including the choice of singers for the national anthem. Longtime Bix performer Jack Carey retired, and Nelson’s committee held auditions to choose a replacement.

They chose three singers, rather than just one, to sing on the start line, the sprints and the after party.

“I do a lot of runs, mostly 5Ks, and you hear a lot of voices when you do that,” Nelson said of the local singing group. “I think it’s fair to offer a fairly prestigious opportunity to sing in front of thousands of people to several people, rather than just one.”

“You always want to leave your mark,” he said. “Two years is the 50th edition of the Bix, so we’re thinking about ways to do great things. For now, I’m learning.

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