The Quad-City Times Bix 7 runners, along with hundreds of volunteers, will gather Saturday by the thousands for the annual after-race party in the Quad-City Times parking lot.

There they'll consume thousands of pounds of food and water that Sharon Wachal, longtime chairperson of the post-race party, has organized.

Many years ago Wachal and her husband, along with then-race director Ed Froehlich and his wife, traveled to New Orleans and saw a race there. “They had a post-race party,” Wachal said. “We decided to implement it with the Bix 7.”

“They had big pots of gumbo. That’s all they gave away,” Wachal remembers.

They all thought it would be great to have food after the Bix 7, too.

Originally, Eagle provided the food. Now, for the past several years, Walmart has provided the food as a sponsor.

The food is loaded into a Walmart warehouse and brought to the parking lot in a truck.

“They have to get the truck parked before they put the stanchions up for the (Arconic Jr. Bix) on Friday because the streets are blocked off then.”

“We basically go from year to year with the same items,” Wachal said.

The Quad-City Times Bix 7 post-party

By the edible numbers:

• 1,000 crackers and cookies, including Oreos, Fig Newtons and Teddy Grahams

• 10,000 Frito-Lay potato chips

• 1,824 cereal bars

• 7,200 granola bars

• 4,800 Rice Krispie Treats

• 8,640 Austin Crackers

• 23,952 bottles of water

• 1,260 pounds of grapes (that’s more than the weight of a telephone pole!)

• $500 worth of little wrapped candies. “It’s the first thing the runners grab,” Wachal said.

• 10,944 Little Debbie snacks

• 3,656 pounds (the approximate weight of a Pacific Walrus) of popsicles from Whitey's, 18,000 popsicles in all

• 6,000 Michelob Ultra beers

• 10,000 cans of soda pop

Three years ago, Wachal said, Chick-fil-A called and asked whether they could come down and give away sandwiches.

Wachal figured maybe they could cut the sandwiches in smaller pieces, but the company wanted the runners and volunteers to experience an entire sandwich.

“Every runner gets a sandwich, and one goes to every volunteer,” Wachal said

For the third straight year, Chick fil-A will prepare thousands of sandwiches, she said. A truck will be parked at the YMCA Child Care building across from the Quad-City Times.

“They cook them in the truck, and they have two chutes.” Sandwiches slide into the chutes and workers pack them up into big containers that are taken across the street, where the sandwiches are handed out.

Meanwhile, about 300 volunteers are on hand to ensure all the food distribution goes smoothly.

“When it was difficult was when we started it,” Wachal said.

Volunteers also help set up at least 120 banquet-sized tables at the party and other locations, including the VIP tent.

Wachal said a lot of volunteers show up to help on the day of the race.

“The hardest part is the heat,” she said. “Being on the concrete all that time and the mass of humanity that’s crowded around you.”

Wachal spends the day walking from one area to another to ensure volunteers have everything they need.

Arconic Jr. Bix

Wachal's responsibilities really kick off the day before the Bix 7 with Arconic's Jr. Bix 7. On hand that day will be:

• 75 cases of granola bars (1,350 bars)

• 600 Austin Crackers

• Two pallets of water (1,152 in a pallet)

• 300 containers of 2 percent Prairie Farms milk (Prairie Farms brings the milk for both the Jr. Bix and the Bix 7)

• 3,600 containers of chocolate milk

• 1200 Kool-Aid Jammers

• 4,500 hot dogs and buns

• 500 cans of soda pop

• Whitey’s popsicles

When the post-race party is over and crowds have dispersed, leftover food and drink are taken to Quad-City homeless shelters, Wachal said.

The end of an era

This will be Wachal’s last year to coordinate the post-party food. Taking her place will be Annette Oberlander, who works for Wachal at Sharon’s Styling Studio, Davenport.

She has volunteered for the Bix 7 for 10 years, and has a favorite moment of the day.

“On race day, between 4:30 and 5 a.m., that’s such a beautiful moment,” she said. “It’s very peaceful.”

Oberlander says some volunteers have helped for three or even four decades. “Each year, the youth volunteers bring in more,” she said. “Rarely do I have somebody that says, ‘(Volunteering) is not for me.’ The majority of the people come back.”

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