Six MSU Army ROTC Cadets standing in front of the AGSR transportation bus holding the game ball and ready to begin the race


Michigan rivals come together to run 64 miles in honor of former MSU student

By Kellan Buddy

Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 5:48 AM EDT|Updated: 3 hours ago

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - While Spartan and Wolverine fans gear up for the big rivalry game this week, members of the Michigan and Michigan State Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) met for a special pregame tradition.

Alex’s Great State Race occurs before every football game between the Spartans and the Wolverines. It’s one of the fiercest rivalries in sports. However, when it comes to the Great State Race, both schools come together for something bigger than bragging rights for a year.

Each year, ROTC cadets representing Michigan and Michigan State come together for the 64-mile run to honor Alex Powell, a former Michigan State University (MSU) student who died of cancer in 2011.

The race started Friday morning in Ann Arbor.

Alex’s Great State Race helps raise funds for MSU’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) and the University of Michigan’s Student Accessibilities and Accommodation Services.

“I just am so proud of our department and MSU’s RCPD for working to provide access for students, making sure that students with disabilities have what they need to have the same experience that you of them and at MSU that everyone else does, and this race just really I feel like it’s such a great Community Building event and really highlights that work and celebrates it,” said Anya Cobler from the University of Michigan’s Student Accessibilities and Accommodation Services.

It will be a while before we make it to East Lansing, but the cadets said crossing the finish line is one of the more memorable moments they experience during their time at school.

Adaptive sports participants will join the race—a new tradition that started in 2022.

Runners are scheduled to arrive in East Lansing by Friday afternoon. They are also bringing the game ball to the stadium ahead of Saturday’s game.

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