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Drake Relays: Back on Track in 2022

2022 Drake Relays

This article includes an interview with Drake Relays Assistant Director Emily McKibben:

The Drake Relays is a time to shine for many athletes in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The competition, held at the famous Blue Oval at Drake Stadium, is celebrating its 112th year of university, college, high school and elite track and field athletes this year. We discussed the upcoming schedule of events with Emily McKibben, assistant director of the Drake Relays.

Q+A Drake Stadium

When are the Drake Relays this year?

Relays Week Schedule:

  • Saturday, April 23 – Health & Fitness Expo presented by Catch Des Moines
  • Sunday, April 24 – Drake Road Races
  • Monday, April 25 – Beautiful Bulldog Contest
  • Tuesday, April 26 – Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield & USATF 1-mile Championships
  • Wednesday, April 27 – Saturday, April 30 – 112th Drake Relays presented by Xtream powered by Mediacom

What’s your connection to the Drake Relays? How does it feel to be back in DSM after four years?

I ran track in high school and fell in love with the sport, competing on the Blue Oval is every Iowa high school athlete’s dream! Working sports was my dream — bringing the two passions together does not feel like a job. I started my career in sports admin/event management as an intern in the Drake Relays office in 2017. The internship was through the Waukee School-to-Work program. I oversaw the middle school, elementary and master’s events. After graduation, I left Des Moines to pursue a degree in Sports Management at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. While in Phoenix, I assisted GCU Athletics and interned with the Phoenix Suns. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in late 2019, I moved to Florida where I was an events coordinator at IMG Academy overseeing all track and field and soccer operations. A year later, I returned to Des Moines and the Drake Relays office as the Assistant Director of Relays Operations.

What kind of turnout are you hoping to expect this year?

After no event in 2020 and a modified event in 2021, we are excited to return to the Drake Relays’ conventional format with full stadium capacity. We expect to see pre-pandemic sold-out crowds — 54 consecutive sellouts prior to 2020. Drake Stadium Crowd

What is the theme? What does that theme mean to the Relays team?

The theme for 2022 is BACK ON TRACK! The theme has been a statement in the Relays office since the first of events registration officially opened in October. Registration numbers for the Drake Road Races and Grand Blue Mile prove we are BACK ON TRACK. Likewise, the confirmed University and College teams and Elite Invitational fields prove the Drake Relays are BACK ON TRACK.

Is all programming open for the public to attend?

Yes, all programming is available for the public.

Is there an easy way for attendees to plan their visit to the Relays online?

All event information may be found at drakerelays.org.

How do you purchase tickets?

Tickets for the Drake Relays can be purchased at draketix.com/drakerelays.

Will there be food on-site?

Many food vendors will line Forest Ave on Friday and Saturday. Officials Reception

What kind of impact does the Relays have on the Drake University community?

The Drake Relays have grown to become a week-long celebration and serves as Drake University’s de facto Homecoming. It is the largest student-run festival in the state of Iowa.

Why would you tell the public to attend this event?

The Drake Relays are historical in the sport of track and field. Beginning in 1910 in a blizzard with less than 200 attendees, the Drake Relays have grown to be a week-long celebration of events. The four-day track and field meet is the pinnacle with 40,000+ spectators and 5,000+ athletes ranging from elementary school students to Olympians. There is excitement for everyone at the Drake Relays and we focus on the goal of ensuring on the way home from the meet, everyone has something positive to talk about!

Find out more about the Drake Relays at drakerelays.org.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.

Emily McKibben

Emily McKibben

Emily McKibben has joined the staff of the Drake Relays presented by Xtream powered by Mediacom in September 2021 as an assistant director overseeing meet operations. McKibben, a Des Moines metro native, returned to the Capital City after serving as an events coordinator at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where she worked exclusively with IMG's track & field, soccer and team training operations. In addition to being from Des Moines, the Waukee High School graduate began her career in athletic administration as an intern on the Drake Relays staff with an emphasis on planning, logistics, operations and execution during the 2016-17 Drake Relays cycle. Immediately following her graduation from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., McKibben joined the Phoenix Suns' global partnership solutions team.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.