Running to the Cotton Bowl: Navy ROTC units from Norman, Austin travel on foot to the big game every year

Great State
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NORMAN, Okla. — It’s a tradition that began right around the same time some of these midshipmen were learning to walk.

Each October, a group of Navy ROTC students at OU, including this year Davis McDermott and Callahan Kelly, gather their legs beneath them and run to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

“It’s 168 miles, sir,” replies McDermott.

Of course, there are lots of people who turn out for the send-off.

The band, cheerleaders, other ROTC branches, university officials, and one very busy football coach who appreciates these kinds of traditions enough to leave his stadium office and hand off a game ball to the 42 officers in training were on hand to see them get to the Red River Showdown the hard way.

“It’s a great tradition,” insists OU Head Football Coach Lincoln Riley. “A lot of fun. Fun to do every year. You know, it’s OU/ Texas week when we’re doing this.”

The long run is more fun than the quick step death march, so senior midshipman Savannah Pipkin didn’t mind carrying a small camera for the first few miles.

“Over 168 miles, how many will you get in?” asks the visitor.

“Usually the goal is 10 miles,” says Pipkin. “But there’s always a competition. You always want to run more miles than your friends. We’ll see how it goes today.”

Another Navy ROTC unit based at the University of Texas also makes the run to Dallas.

They carry a game ball too, but who cares about them.

What these runners try to remember as they head south is the camaraderie and teamwork they develop along the way, the fun experiences they’ll all talk about for years to come, and saving just enough breath to celebrate a victory Saturday afternoon.

‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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