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Celebrating The Blue Oval


The 105th Drake Relays goes on in Des Moines from April 24-26, featuring tack-and-field greats like Aries Merritt (pictured). See the complete schedule at

The 105th Drake Relays goes on in Des Moines from April 24-26, featuring tack-and-field greats like Aries Merritt (pictured). See the complete schedule at

One of Des Moines’ longest-running annual traditions is back this weekend at the tender age of 105 years old. Yet that’s not slowing things down. It’s relay time in Dawgtown, and people from around the world are toeing the line just waiting for the starting gun to fire.

“As of right now, there’s 18 Olympic medalists from the 2012 Olympics scheduled to compete and 17 that medaled at the 2013 World Championships,” said Ty Patton, assistant athletic director for Athletic Communications at Drake University. 

While every person has a favorite event, attendees would be wise to pay attention to this year’s men’s 400-meter hurdles. Six of the top-10 ranked hurdlers in the world, including Drake Relays defending champion Michael Tinsley, headline the field. Though he took the silver at the 2012 Olympics, Tinsley will have the chance for a rematch against respective gold and bronze medalists Felix Sanchez and Javier Culson. Johnny Dutch, fourth-ranked in the hurdles, and Bershawn Jackson, currently ranked seventh in the world, help complete this star-studded lineup.

The women’s field looks equally impressive. Dalilah Muhammad, the reigning silver-medalist at the 2013 World Championships, is currently ranked third in the world. Lashinda Demus finished just behind her in Moscow but has a silver medal from the 2012 Olympics to her credit and a No. 6 world ranking. Georganne Moline, ranked No. 4 in the event, is also scheduled to compete.

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We won’t be without our local athlete celebrities, either.

“Lolo Jones will be participating in the shuttle hurdle relay as well,” Patton said. “Also of local note, Katie Flood will be returning to Des Moines to compete at the Relays for the first time since high school.”

With 124 total high school events — not including the three Hy-Vee Road Races, High Jump at Hy-Vee, Grand Blue Mile, Pole Vault at Jordan Town Centre, heptathlon and decathlon events — and 92 collegiate and World Championship Rematch events, there is surely something for everyone. Those up for the challenging long days at the Blue Oval are rewarded with action-packed view of the athletes at an arm’s length — all part of the Relays’ charm. It’s an intimate setting where records are broken and made.

Drake Relays Director Bryan Brown reminds not let possible inclement weather spoil the mood, either.

“It’s a false perception that it always rains (during the Drake Relays),” he advised. “Our historian, Paul Morrison, has shared with us that, indeed, there has been more days of sunshine than there has been of rain. But we are creatures of habit who only remember when it’s rain — last year, though, it was beautiful.” CV                

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

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