Twenty-eight races. Twenty-eight years of coming up short.
But this year, Palm Beach Atlantic University’s 29th annual Great American Bug Race belonged to Professor of Biology Dr. Gary Goss and his speedy cockroach, Jack.
As this year’s overall first-place winner, Dr. Goss won the $100 prize and a place in PBA history. “It feels wonderful after 29 years to finally win this race,” he said afterward.
The only thing he did differently, he said, was giving his roach his own middle name. “Every year I try to give them creative names,” but apparently that didn’t work, he said.
The Great American Bug Race, sponsored by Abalon Pest Services, benefits the University's Science Club and is PBA’s longest-running tradition. It was one of the highlights of this year’s Homecoming Week.
Racers could bring their own bugs or purchase them for 50 cents. The race was run in heats, culminating in one final grand-prize run.
Alumni and family members who were on campus for Homecoming were eligible to participate. Hunter Colby, the 8-year-old son of alumna Jeana Colby, was the second-place winner in his category, which included faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, children and others.
Also competing in that category was Marty Woods, who perhaps traveled the longest distance to be there. Woods, a resident of Australia, had been on campus to speak to students about an upcoming mission trip in London and decided to join the bug race.
“I have never seen a cockroach race. I was thinking to myself, ‘Is this what you Americans do?’” Woods joked.
“Their favorite foods are scrambled eggs and chocolate cake,” he said.
Spectator Aris Rogers, a senior, said he has never attended a bug race, but he was attracted by the crowd and the screams of the squeamish.
“It was a fun event,” he said. “I can see why it has stuck around for so long.”