Grace Hooley | Echo
Gripping the handle bars in the Spring of 1992 and 1993, graduate Kenn McFarland lunged himself onto the Taylathon bike. His heart pumped blood faster than he could think, and beads of sweat rolled down his face as he sped towards the next curve hoping to have another victory.
McFarland was a two-time defending Taylathon champion with his team during his junior and senior years. His sophomore year, his team placed second, but their determination to win payed off.
"I first saw Taylathon when I was a visiting high school student," McFarland said. "I thought it was so cool and that it would be something I would like to be involved in."
He, and his teammates, lived on the 1st floor of Bergwall Hall, and while he could not race his freshman year due to his track commitment, he quit track his sophomore year, giving him time for Taylathon.
Their team trained at 5:30 in the morning for a whole month before Taylathon. They also rode on the track before any of the other teams. It was well worth it.
"Our captain, Mark Leedy, had us focus on hand-offs in order to not get penalized," McFarland said. "We believed that if we could run a perfect race, we would have a chance to beat the better riders of the senior team."
Taylathon is one of McFarland's favorite memories of Taylor, and he still recalls having spaghetti dinners and watching "Breaking Away" to get their spirits ready for the race.
McFarland also remembers that during that time, the women's teams raced on tricycles, and Taylathon was held in the Spring. Those are both different, but one similar factor that remains is the entry parade.
"Winning was the most fun, but a close second was the team entry parade," McFarland said. "One year, we rode motorcycles down the sidewalk followed by a Ferrari."
Alex McFarland is a freshman in 1 West Wengatz Hall, and he's Kenn McFarland's son. He grew up hearing of his father's glorious Taylathon days.
While Alex McFarland won't be riding in Taylathon this year, he hopes to next year. While he is impressed with how his dad won two Taylathon races, Alex McFarland would be satisfied just to win Taylathon once.
"I greatly enjoyed hearing my dad's stories of Taylathon when I was a kid," Alex McFarland said. "He made it sound like a ton of fun and I remember hearing his awesome story of beating the senior class by 6 seconds his junior year! It seemed like a ton of fun for him and it has always interested me."
The Taylathon teammates who rode with Kenn McFarland consisted of Mark Leedy, Jeff Hamilton, Eric Harris, Jeff Woods, Scott Hanback, Dave Whorle, Greg Flick, and Rob Zimmerman.
A bond not easily broken, these men not only rode to victory together, but they created lasting friendships through this Taylor tradition. Taylathon means something to each of these men, but to Kenn McFarland it will always hold a special place of honor.
"Taylathon means grit, determination, and teamwork," Kenn McFarland said. "Victory!"