The Drake Relays is an annual outdoor track and field event held in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, on the campus of Drake University. It has grown to become one of the largest and most important meets in United States, attracting top university and professional talent alike.
Barely 100 shivering spectators and nearly the same number of competitors were on hand for the first Drake Relays in 1910 - a stark contrast to the full stadium that now greets more than 8,000 participants competing during the two main days of the meet.
Drake Stadium will host the 100th running of the Drake Relays in April of 2009. Drake University and Drake's athletic department have many events planned to mark the occasion.
Not Just a Track Meet
The Drake Relays are a celebrated tradition not only by students and alumni, but by the surrounding Des Moines community. While Drake does have a traditional homecoming in the fall, the school's celebrates and treats the Relays as their actual homecoming. Alumni return to campus, and students and the community alike celebrate the pride and tradition the Track meet brings.
While the track meet is held for a single weekend near the end of April, celebrations and events begin on campus almost 3 weeks prior.
Eleven men have served as directors of the Drake Relays since the first event in 1910.
- John L. Griffith 1910-1918
Griffith was the founder of the Drake Relays. He remained director for 9 years and moved to the University of Illinois after World War I. He later became commissioner of the Big Ten Conference.
- M.B. Banks 1919-1921
Banks also served as coach to the Drake football and basketball teams.
- K.L. (Tug) Wilson 1922-1925
Wilson was a former Illinois and Olympic athlete. After his tenure as director, he went on to become athletic director at Northwestern University. Wilson was also a former Big Ten Conference commissioner.
- O.M. (Ossie) Solem 1926-1932
Longtime Drake coach succeeded Wilson, but left to become head football coach at the University of Iowa, and later at Syracuse University.
- F.P. (Pitch) Johnson 1933-1940
- M.E. (Bill) Easton 1941-1947
- Tom Deckard 1948-1955
- Bob Karnes 1956-1969
- Bob Erhart 1970-2000
- Mark Kostek 2001-2005
- Brian Brown 2006-
Brown participated in the relays himself, and currently holds the Drake Relays record in the high jump. Each year Brown attemps to have his record broken by recruiting some of the best high jumpers in the country, but none have been able to take down his record.
Notable Drake Relays participants