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    It’s that time of year again, when Louisville crowds assemble to watch speedy animals compete for the coveted garland of…fruity cereal-o’s?

    This coming Thursday, April 12, Spalding University will celebrate the 40th anniversary Running of the Rodents. This year’s theme, “Viva Rat Vegas,” will introduce eight rodents with names such as Lady Luck, Burlesque and LibeRATce. At 10:15 a.m., prior to the race, a public parade of Vegas-attired Spalding luminaries (including students, staff and faculty who moonlight as rat trainers) will ride floats and decorated vehicles along the parade route of Third and Fourth Streets. Afterward, the animals will run on a .024-furlong racetrack (about 16 feet) at Spalding Downs, otherwise known as the Spalding University Center Building Ballroom, 824 South Fourth Street. WAVE 3’s Dawne Gee will emcee.

    Although gambling is not encouraged (clearly a sign that this isn’t the real Vegas, nor the real Churchill Downs), spectators can enjoy games such as the annual Rat Hat contest, as well as kids’ activities. A cash-only lunch is available after the festivities in the University Center Ballroom, 824 South Fourth Street. (Please leave your vermin at the track.) Finally, the student body will select a King and Queen Rat, and a Rat Ball will take place that evening.

    Spalding University’s annual rat race, which has taken place since 1973 and gained fame in 1987 as a Trivial Pursuit question, serves as both a stress reducer and a unique method of teaching students about animal care as well as behavior modification techniques. It is known as “The Most Exciting Two Seconds in Sports.”

    The event is free and open to the public, and parking is free in all Spalding University lots. For more information, contact Liz Nethery at

    Illustration: Flickr/vectorportal

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