This year’s Big Blue Madness started as it does every year… with madness.
At 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, those wishing to obtain their Big Blue Madness tickets lined up along Avenue of Champions, tents in hand, to race across the road and claim their spots in line. Once their spot was claimed, they began setting up tents to camp out before tickets are given out on Friday, Sept. 27.
The tickets are free, making them a hot commodity for University of Kentucky basketball enthusiasts. Big Blue Madness is an annual event that allows basketball fans to come in and watch the first open UK Basketball practice of the year for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Mike Brumfield, 71, said he and his wife have been participating in the event for over 15 years, this year included. Brumfield did not get the first spot, but he said they were able to obtain a decent spot, being eighth in line from the box office.
“The nightmare is over,” he said.
This was 61-year-old Ann Kemp’s second time participating in the Big Blue Madness camaraderie and her birthday. Though Kemp had to be up for the early hours, she said she thought this was a fun way to start the day, especially since there was no rain, unlike last year.
While in the past many have camped out for days, the group of UK freshmen that claimed this year’s first spot arrived only 30 minutes prior to the 5 a.m. race to the front.
Andy Anderson, freshman marketing major and part of the group to claim the first spot in line, said their strategy was to stay as far left of the crowd as possible. Once 5 a.m. began to approach, they would squeeze in closer to the rest of the crowd.
“Right when they said go, we were just going to bull rush it and dive right over the fence,” Anderson said.
There was an announcement that marked 15 seconds until 5 a.m., and fans got ready to run.
Anderson and his group of friends hurtled over a wall that blocks off part of the front lawn of Memorial Colosseum and began setting up their tent. Anderson said a couple of them got hurt falling or trying to get over the concrete fence, but not severely.
Anderson had heard about Big Blue Madness through an older member of his fraternity, and he and his friends decided they wanted to participate as it is their first year on campus. Though there were a few skinned knees and scrapes, Anderson said he would do it all again next year.
“I mean, if you ain’t first you’re last,” Anderson said, quoting the popular Will Ferrell-starring movie, "Talladega Nights."
According to EMS officials on the scene, their services had not been needed during the race. One EMS official remarked that this was one of the calmest years he had seen so far.
Tickets for the event will be available on Friday, Sept. 27, and Big Blue Madness will take place on Friday, Oct. 11.