The Hambone Relay................................................................................................................................

 

Who’s got the Hambone?

Lucas Valley!

 

The Hambone race is perhaps the most important event of the Lightning season, and is always the last race of the last dual meet of the year against our rivals, the Water Devils. The event dates back more than 50 years, and came about through curious circumstances. 

 

As Lucas Valley swimmers and coaches arrived for an early morning practice in 1969, they discovered the Lucas Valley pool deck covered in garbage – the remains of a party from the night before, that had been plundered from the dumpster and scattered by raccoons. As they cleaned up, a hambone was found in the mess. The team decided to keep the hambone as a trophy for their upcoming meet against Marinwood. Coaches from both teams conferred, and decided the hambone would be the prize for a special relay at the meet’s conclusion. There had never been a relay like this before: 11 swimmers from each team made up of one boy and girl from each age group, followed by each team’s head coach. In later years, an assistant coach was added to the competition. The winner takes home the hambone until the following year’s relay.

 

In the early days, the hambone would be painted the winning team’s colors and proudly displayed in the community center’s trophy case. After a few years, the original hambone decomposed and would be replaced from time to time. Eventually, the painting tradition died out and the hambone would be stored in the winning team president’s freezer until the following year. In 1988, both teams met to broker a solution, and it was determined that Lucas Valley would pay for bronzing, with Marinwood furnishing a stand for the trophy so it could once again be displayed by each year’s winner. 

 

Swimming in the Hambone Relay is among the highest honors for a Lightning swimmer, and those who have competed in this unique race know their place in one of Lucas Valley’s most celebrated traditions.