The 112th Freshman Cake Race at the Institute

Racers cross the finish line in exhaustion and victory as they go on to claim their treats. While the original event provided whole cakes baked by faculty’s wives, current runners receive cupcakes. // Photo by Alexey Tatarinov Student Publications

The Institute, best known for its innovative engineering programs, is also home to one of the oldest and most cherished traditions in college sport history: the Freshman Cake Race. Celebrating its 112th anniversary, this race has undergone significant transformations over the years, reflecting evolving attitudes towards inclusivity and diversity on campus.

The Ramblin’ Reck Club on campus oversees the Homecoming events relating to time-old Tech tradition that occur during the Friday and Saturday before the annual Homecoming football game. Their main three events that they spearhead are the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade, the Mini 500 and the Freshman Cake Race.

The Homecoming Chair, selected internally within the Ramblin’ Reck Club, plays a pivotal role in organizing the event, handling back-end logistics, communication with the police and other essential aspects. This year’s Ramblin’ Reck Club Homecoming Chair was Bethany McMorris, fifth-year CS, and the Freshman Cake Race Sub- Chairs for this year were Matthew Kistner, third-year CS, and Tyler Gavaletz, third-year CS.

Bill Monahan and Elite Race Timing were responsible for the precise timing of the race, ensuring a fair and accurate outcome. Monahan has been helping emcee and manage race times for the Cake Race for the past decade. The race bibs have sensors that allow for an accurate chip timing system to track the race’s winners. A large portion of the setup involved engaging with the first-year students and encouraging them to embrace this time-honored tradition. To accomplish this goal, the Ramblin’ Reck Club made sure to hit the ground running by advertising the Cake Race on campus to first-years so they could partake in the tradition.

“We aimed to make the event accessible to all who wished to participate. Our efforts were successful, with the largest turnout for first-year transfer, graduate, PhD and master’s students ever in the history of the Cake Race,” Kistner said.

Traditionally, the race was only open to men until the 1960s when women were allowed to participate, marking an early shift towards inclusivity. This year, the Ramblin’ Reck Club has taken another significant step by introducing three categories for participants: male, female and open. The open category ensures that everyone, regardless of gender identity, can join in on this fun tradition.

The registration data underscores the success of Ramblin’ Reck Club’s inclusive approach, with 549 male sign-ups, 506 female sign-ups and 223 sign-ups in the open category, showing a balance among all categories.

“I was proud that we were able to follow through on our main priorities for this year’s Cake Race to provide an open and inclusive environment, embracing Tech’s diverse population,” Kistner said. The most challenging aspect of organizing the Cake Race, according to Kistner, was managing the distribution of cupcakes to all participants. The tradition follows that after the freshmen run up the notorious Freshman Hill on campus, each finisher is awarded with the “sweetest” prize in modern racing, a cupcake.

McMorris, Kistner and Gavaletz made it a priority to accommodate a range of dietary needs and were grateful for the support of local bakery sponsor, 2B Whole Gluten Free Bakery. They were able to successfully administer cupcakes to all 1,278 participants of the race. This year’s record high number of student participation included a student from every residence hall on campus.

“The most rewarding part of helping pull off this year’s Cake Race was witnessing the enthusiasm and energy of the participants, many of whom lined up at 6:15 a.m. to be part of this tradition. Being able to contribute to the Cake Race is an experience I will cherish,” Kistner said.

As the tradition stands, the winners of the Cake Race are allowed on the field during the Homecoming Game. This year, the winners presented the “T” to President Cabrera, kicking off the Homecoming half-time show, a tradition that dates back several years. The Freshman Cake Race stands as a testament to the power of tradition, inclusivity and unity at Tech. With its 112 year history, it remains a distinctive tradition that highlights Tech’s diverse and vibrant spirit.