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Drake Relays Competition Leads to A Life in DSM

Drake Relays and DSM

Originally from Madison, Wis., Ben Jaskowiak decided to attend Drake University’s business school and take advantage of all it had to offer, not only of being in Greater Des Moines (DSM) but that the area is so immersed in the insurance and financial industries as well. However, his involvement in the Drake Relays solidified his decision to stay in DSM.

Experiencing the Drake Relays

He joined the track and cross-country teams at Drake and grew to love being a part of the Drake Relays in his four years as a student-athlete. Jaskowiak ran the 10,000 meters at the Drake Relays during his junior year, but it was his freshman year in 2009 when the Relays celebrated 100 years, that got him hooked. Jaskowiak got to experience the festivities honoring Olympians such as Jesse Owens, Susie Favor Hamilton, Michael Johnson and others as Athletes of the Century. “To have my first Drake Relays be the 100th Anniversary was eye-opening. I had no idea about the history and caliber of athletes that competed in the Relays until that time.” He still finds it amazing just how much the community participates in the Drake Relays each year and how recognized the Blue Oval is within the track community.

For those who have yet to experience the Drake Relays, Jaskowiak insists that purchasing tickets is an awesome way to experience the talented athletes participating all in one place. The Drake Relays is the first big outdoor meet of the year on the professional track circuit, and you could see athletes at Drake Stadium prior to seeing them compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics later this summer. It's an up-close-and-personal experience right in your own backyard.

Since graduating from Drake, Jaskowiak has run the Grand Blue Mile every year and oftentimes takes part in the Relays Road Races as well. He also volunteers in some way every year to give back to the track program and community, too, joining more than 1,000 other volunteers supporting the week’s events. Seeing Drake Stadium completely packed, people sitting shoulder to shoulder, is something to behold in person and volunteering is a great way to do that. Involvement this year is especially exciting for Jaskowiak and his wife, who welcomed a daughter last August, as she gets to experience the Drake Relays in 2024 for the first time. “She only missed two Drake men’s basketball home games this year, and we’re excited to share Drake Relays memories together as a family.”

Greater Des Moines (DSM) Favorites

During his years in school, Jaskowiak watched as Downtown Des Moines (DSM) continued to change and increase the number of things to do, including the awesome bike trails you can ride from city to city around the region. “The trails are a great way to explore the city and surrounding area. It’s certainly a unique feature that doesn’t exist in every city that we’re lucky to have.” And when you’re not attending a Drake event or staying active on the trails, he suggests trying out Manhattan Deli on Ingersoll or El Bait Shop in Historic Court District (the sheer number of beers on tap is impressive!).

There are so many fun events specific to Downtown DSM. Attend annual events like the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market, World Food & Music Festival and Holiday Promenade or find live music happening each week through the "Live Music This Week in DSM” blog series.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options. Find event information and follow @downtownDSMUSA on Facebook and Instagram for other news, tips and events happening downtown.

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.