Traditions: Army-Navy game ball run
The marathon run that helps deliver the game ball for Army/Navy will be part of this week's pageantry in Philadelphia.
As we wrap up our season-long look at some of the top traditions in college football, we look at one of the most tradition-rich rivalry games in the nation. Army-Navy is not the oldest rivalry in the nation, and there are rivalries that annually are played to larger crowds, with bigger stakes and more intense animosity between fan bases.
But few rivalries can match the pageantry that accompanies the annual battle between the Cadets of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.
They'll meet Saturday in Philadelphia for the 114th time in a game televised nationally by CBS. Navy has won 11 consecutive games against Army to take a 57–49–7 lead in the all-time series.
Army-Navy dates to 1890, and some of the game's traditions go back almost that far. One tradition that is relatively new -- it began in 1982 and has occurred continuously since 1994 -- is the annual marathon run of the game to the stadium. After Friday night pep rallies, running relay teams overnight from West Point and Annapolis make the trek to Philadelphia, game ball in hand. The Navy team will cover 135 miles to Philadelphia, the Army runners typically cover 150 to 160, with each relay runner typically covering anywhere from 10 to 15 miles each along the way.
Winter weather in the Northeast can often make the journey cold or even icy, but that's no match for the drive and determination of U.S. servicemen and women whose mission it is to bring the game ball into the stadium on Saturday afternoon.
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