Looking Ahead to the Drake Relays


DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake Relays run next week and organizers are busy finalizing plans.

Athletes and spectators are ready to get back to the “blue oval” especially after not having the event last year.

Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays Blake Boldon says they’re working hard to bring back events in a safe way.

“2020 was a heartbreaking year for so many reasons, and to see high school seniors particularly that missed that opportunity,” Boldon said. “So to be able to restore that for Iowa high schoolers and the college athletes truly is really significant and exciting. [We’re] really happy to be able to host any spectators at all and continue that family tradition of people being able to come out and watch the Drake Relays.”

Expect some changes at the blue oval this year. Boldon said capacity will be at 20-percent, there will be a mask mandate, and spectators will be socially distanced and sitting in pods.

Boldon says the biggest change is that high school events will be held separately in a one-day format on Thursday. Friday and Saturday will include the college and university events.

“One of the great things about the Drake Relays for more than a century has been that Iowa high school student-athletes can compete on the same track and on the same day as those best universities and colleges in the NCAA but then also Olympic champions,” Boldon said. “So unfortunately they will not do that this year, but we are thrilled to be the only large college and professional meet to also welcome high schoolers in 2021.”

Tickets for 2019 ticket holders go on sale Tuesday, April 13. Ticket holders who donated or deferred their 2020 tickets received notice last week. Organizers hope to know by the end of this week what capacity remains for the general public.

“The challenge that we’ll face with the Drake Relays is that we have thousands of loyal supporters that have had tickets for decades. And that’s how we’ve been able to sell out 15,000 seats for more than 52 years in a row because there are so many people who are really committed and have had tickets since maybe their parents or even grandparents got the same seats many decades ago,” Boldon explained. “So we’re first accommodating those people as best as possible and then we hope to have some limited availability on sale to the general public, but we’re first also accommodating those who’ve only had tickets in 2019 and before.”

Boldon said to stay tuned as more details are finalized in the days ahead. Those updates include tickets, how to watch if you’re not allowed inside the stadium, athletes that will be coming, and what the schedule will look like.

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