DES MOINES, Iowa – Des Moines will play host to nearly 8,000 track and field athletes this week as they gather to compete in the 2013 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee. The 104th edition of America’s Athletic Classic will feature world’s finest elite, collegiate and high school competitors in 111 events over the course of six days of competition.
Highlighting the action inside Drake Stadium will be 13 London Games Rematches that will pit 2012 Olympic medalists and finalists against each in a rematch of last summer’s Olympic competition. In addition to bragging rights, those world-class athletes are also competing for a $50,000 purse in running events and a $25,000 purse in field events, both among the biggest purses offered in the world. Seven of those London Games Rematches will be staged on Friday night as part of Hy-Vee Night at the Relays.
Already one of the world’s premier sporting events, the addition of 19 medalists from the London Olympics has drawn increased interest from local, regional, national and international media with more than 300 media credentials already issued for the Relays. The Relays will also be featured prominently on the ESPN family of networks with a tape-delayed broadcast on Saturday evening from 7-8:30 p.m., CDT. Friday’s events will be shown live on ESPN3 starting at 6:30 p.m. CDT.
Of those athletes entered to compete this week, 1,053 are from the men’s University/College division and 966 are in the women’s University/College section. The high school divisions are comprised of 622 boys and 588 girls from the state of Iowa with middle and grade schoolers accounting for 485. There are also 90 post-collegiate/unattached men and 77 post-collegiate/unattached women in the field. Approximately 4,000 athletes are also registered for the Hy-Vee Road Races at the Drake Relays.
Competition starts Tuesday, April 23 with the annual running of the Wellmark Grand Blue Mile in downtown Des Moines at 6 p.m. with various divisions of competitors running until the final race starts at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the recreational divisions, the world’s top milers will also compete for the 2013 USA Track & Field 1-Mile Road Championships to make the field one of the best to race through the streets of Des Moines in the history of the event.
Relays week continues to ramp up on Wednesday with the always popular Pole Vault in the Mall presented by Hy-Vee. More than a dozen of the world’s top men’s and women’s vaulters will compete inside Jordan Creek Town Center. The men’s field features both the gold and silver medalists from the 2012 Olympics and three total competitors that have cleared the 6-meter (19 feet) mark, something that only eight men have accomplished in the last decade. The vaulters hit the runway at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday with select athletes also being available for an autograph session at Scheels, inside Jordan Creek Town Center, from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Wednesday also sees the action get underway inside Drake Stadium with the first day of the heptathlon and decathlon beginning at noon. The multi-events continue on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. before action starts on the Blue Oval with the 13th annual Distance Carnival and select high school field events. Also on Thursday, Olympian and Drake Relays standout Jeremy Wariner and Iowa Director of Track & Field Larry Wieczorek will be inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Sheslow Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.
The Relays begin in full force on Friday with events running from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday will also mark the start of competition for the Hy-Vee Cup, awarded to each university/college division team that accumulates the most points in the five relay events – the 4x100, 4x400, 4x800, sprint medley and distance medley – scheduled to be staged.
After 5 p.m. on Friday, the Relays take on an added dimension with Hy-Vee Night at the Relays. Four London Games Rematches are scheduled to be contested on the track, including a complete gold, silver and bronze rematch in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. Three London Games Rematches in the field events will also be staged throughout the evening that also features high school, collegiate and youth relay events. What promises to be a fantastic evening of track and field will be capped by a fireworks display at Drake Stadium. 2012 Olympic medalists scheduled to compete during Hy-Vee Night at the Relays include Aries Merritt (110mH – Gold), Jason Richardson (110mH – Silver), Hansle Parchment (110mH – Bronze), Michael Tinsley (400mH – Silver), Javier Culson (400mH – Bronze), Maryam Jamal (1,500m – Bronze), Lugelin Santos (400m – Silver), Lalonde Gordon (400m – Bronze), Jenn Suhr (Pole Vault – Gold), Yarisley Silva (Pole Vault – Silver), Brittney Reese (Long Jump – Gold) and Janay DeLoach (Long Jump – Bronze).
Less than 12 hours after the final firework goes off Friday night, the athletic fireworks begin again on the Blue Oval with another full day of competition that includes six London Games Rematches throughout the morning and afternoon. Saturday will also feature Des Moines native, Olympian and crowd-favorite Lolo Jones stepping into the blocks for the women’s 100-meter hurdles London Rematch at 2:46 p.m. She’ll race against silver medalist Dawn Harper and bronze medalist Kellie Wells. Other 2012 Olympic medalists scheduled for Saturday competitions include Zuzana Hejnova (400mH – Bronze), Christian Taylor (Triple Jump – Gold), Renaud Lavillenie (Pole Vault – Gold), Bjorn Otto (Pole Vault – Silver) and Reese Hoffa (Shot Put – Silver).
The Relays don’t end on Saturday this year as the Hy-Vee Road Races take the spotlight on Sunday morning with a 6-kilometer, 10-kilometer and half marathon all set to hit the streets of Des Moines. The 10k and half marathon has attracted more than 50 or the world’s top road runners and recreational racers to compete for the $120,000 in available prize money. All three races will finish inside Drake Stadium to give all competitors the rare opportunity to run on the Blue Oval. Sunday’s road race festivities will also include a post-race concert by acclaimed singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson to accompany the awards and closing ceremonies.
Single session and multi-session ticket packages are available for the 2013 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee at www.DrakeRelays.org or by calling the Drake athletic ticket office at 515-271-DOGS.