The 31st Lemming Race[1] at Central College

One of the enjoyable events of Homecoming2 at Central College in Pella, Iowa, is the Lemming Race.  This completely frivolous3 event for undergraduate4 students was started by Central College students, Larry Happel, Class of 1977, and his friend, Jack Grubaugh, who was elected by students as Grand Lemming5 of the first year’s festivities6.  We knew these students well, and both had a good sense of humor7.  Happel is now Associate Director of Sports Information at Central8, and Grubaugh, who was my advisee as a Biology major9, has a PhD10 in Biology and does research with fish and clams11 of the Mississippi River habitats12.


Lemmings are small rodents13 found in the far Northern Hemisphere14, and as part of their natural means of population control15, the lemmings faithfully16 follow the leader of the group, and the leader and followers will run and jump off a high cliff17, falling to their death in the ocean water below. 


The annual Lemming Race at Central College commemorates18 this event, and initially19 students raced about 100 yards from the area near Geisler Library20, down Peace Mall21 to the pond22 in the center of campus, where the pairs of runners, one leg of each bound to the other by a rope, ran and jumped into the water to the accompaniment23 of laughter by the crowd of students and alumni spectators24 gathered near the pond.


There were initially student teams of males and females, all dressed outrageously25 in swim suits or colorful old clothing. Now, the legs are no longer tied, and even some faculty26 may join many students as they race with the “lemmings” and add to the hilarity27 as they splash into the pond28, throwing water on each other and on the spectators near the pond. 


There are about as many cameras as spectators, taking photos of the event, and all are laughing and shouting as the runners flail29 about in the water.  Many of the contestants30 and the crowd wear special Lemming Day shirts31 on the day of the race, and all welcome it as a means of “letting off steam32 in a harmless tradition33 unique34 to Central College Homecoming week end.


Grand Lemming this year was David Trotter, a senior Environmental Science major35, who defeated ten other students for the honor of leading the Lemming Race and the associated celebrations of Lemming Day.  David threw caution to the wind, dressed in a costume called “early ‘90s Epic Rocky Balboa36,” and said, “If I had the power, I’d dismiss classes all day on the day of the Lemming Race.” The Grand Lemming also thanked Central College President, David Roe, and others who permit this unique event to be a part of Homecoming.



1. Lemming Race: a competitive event in which students dress in unusual costumes, run to the campus pond and jump into the water (旅鼠竞赛,是一项比赛,比赛中学生们穿着奇怪的服装,向校园里的池塘跑去,并跳入水中).

2. Homecoming: 毕业生返校

3. frivolous: 轻松搞笑的

4. undergraduate:本科生

5. Grand Lemming: or King of the Lemmings, name for the leader, who rules over the celebrations on Lemming Races (大旅鼠,又称“旅鼠王”,是旅鼠竞赛庆祝活动的领导).

6. sense of humor: 幽默感

7. Associate Director of Sports Information at Central:中央学院体育信息部副主任

8. my advisee as a Biology major:我指导过的生物专业的学生

9. festivities: celebrations or colorful activities; joyful events (庆祝活动).

10. PhD: 博士学位

11. clams: 蛤蜊

12. Mississippi River habitats: 密西西比河的栖息地

13. rodents: 啮齿目动物,如兔、鼠等

14. Northern Hemisphere:北半球

15. population control:人口控制

16. faithfully: with strict adherence to (忠心耿耿地)

17. cliff: 悬崖,峭壁

18. commemorates: does something in memory or in honor of a person or thing.; to serve as a memorial (纪念).

19. initially: at first, at the beginning, etc. (最初)

20. Geisler Library: a large building west of the Central campus area which houses the books and periodicals held by Central College (中央学院的图书馆,位于该校区的西部).

21. Peace Mall: the name of the pedestrian walkway through the Central College campus (穿过中央学院校区的一条步行通道). Once was a street, but was closed to traffic to become part of the interior campus.

22. pond: 池塘

23. accompaniment: 伴随发生的事

24. spectators: people watching an event of some sort (观众).

25. outrageously: unusually different (惊人地不同).

26. faculty: (全体)教员

27. hilarity: 欢闹,狂欢

28. splash into the pond:扑通跳入池塘里

29. flail: movement of the arms and legs in an uncoordinated activity; uncontrolled movement (手臂和腿脚像连枷一样挥动).

30. contestants: people involved in a contest; in this case the Lemming Race (参加旅鼠竞赛的人).

31. Lemming Day shirts: shirts that have been designed specifically to be worn at the Lemming Day activities (专门为旅鼠竞赛日设计穿的衬衣).

32. letting off steam: 释放能量

33. tradition: 传统(做法)

34. unique: singular; not found elsewhere (独一无二的).

35. environmental science major: a course of study dealing with the physical and biological aspects of the surround world.

36. “threw caution to the wind” idiom. without restraint; having no care for the moment.

37. in a costume called early 90s Epic Rocky Balboa”;in the style common to the movie hero, Rocky Balboa popular in the early 1990s (穿着90年代早期的电影“洛基:勇者无惧”风格的服装).

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