Drake Road Races - Back On Track
Updated: Jan 19
The Drake Road Races kick-off the Drake Relays. Let’s run back in history and look at how these events have grown together, embracing the sport, and how the community has embraced them right back.
The history lesson begins with the Drake Relays. The inaugural event was held in 1910 and the first meet drew 100 spectators and 82 athletes, all from Des Moines-area colleges and high schools. Second-year attendance grew to 500 spectators and 250 athletes. The Relays saw its first world record in1914, just four-years after its inaugural event, and by 1922, the event expanded to two days, drawing 10,000 fans, and becoming the first major track and field event broadcast on radio. For the 1926 Relays, Drake Stadium was built on the site of the prior host, Haskins Field. The event is off and running, but not quite to the finish line…in 1961, women's events were added and starting with the 1966 Relays, there was a streak of 48 consecutive Saturdays with a sellout crowd. In 1969, a $175,000 tartan track was installed; events would go all-metric in 1976 and in 1978, the track was rebuilt as a 400-meter oval. Resurfaced the summer of 1989 in Drake blue school colors, the Jim Duncan Track is frequently (and often) referred to as the “Blue Oval”. Hundreds of Olympic gold medalists have competed at Drake Stadium and hundreds of Drake Relays competitors have gone on to compete in the Olympics.
The first Drake Road Race was held in 1969 and was comprised of twenty-two men who started at the Iowa State Capital. Event participation has skyrocketed since 1969 and the event has seen strong registration coming out of the pandemic. The addition of the Grand Blue Mile, a one-mile road race highlighting the talents of elite athletes, is sponsored by Wellmark bringing more community togetherness and awareness to the Drake Road Races and Drake Relays. These events serve as a second homecoming for Drake University along other community events such as student street painting, a downtown Des Moines block party, all serving as a community building block.
We’ve made it to the finish, inside Drake Stadium on the historic Blue Oval. It's no surprise that the EnMotive team takes pride in being part of this historical event. The start line for the Drake Road Races is located on Forest Avenue at the footsteps of historic Drake Stadium. All race distances finish inside the stadium on the iconic Blue Oval. As you enter the stadium you will be welcomed in by the current voice of America's Athletic Classic, Mike Jay. The finish is on the world famous track that has hosted Olympians, world record holders and now the Road Race participants!
It's historic, it's classic and it's back on track in 2023!