Drake Relays News

Coach Gary Wilson

Memories of The Drake Relays: Coach Gary Wilson

Coach Gary Wilson-Minnesota ©Jim Kirby

Coach Gary Wilson-Minnesota
©Jim Kirby

Gary Wilson.  Longtime Head Coach of Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country at the University of Minnesota:

Every once in a while in our sport, a meet becomes much more than just track and field events. Instead it becomes a family gathering.

A place where athletes and fans and officials come together for a few days to make connections that they have enjoyed for years.

I have come to Drake since 1975 and still run into friends from that first year.

Drake is important not only to Iowa but also to the entire Midwest and nation.

It is so comfortable to be there year after year. It’s like coming home.

Grand Blue Mile 2016

Grand Blue Mile Now Part of USA 1 Mile Championships

Chad Noelle after his 2016 Grand Blue Mile victory.  His winning time was 4:12.11 ©Jim Kirby 2016

Chad Noelle after his 2016 Grand Blue Mile victory. His winning time was 4:12.11
©Jim Kirby 2016

Grand Blue Mile (GBM) officials from Wellmark and the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee announced the USA Track & Field 1 Mile Road Championships will be returning as part of the annual Grand Blue Mile in 2017 and 2018. The addition of the prestigious USA 1 Mile Road Championships further elevates the elite-level competition of Grand Blue Mile and is expected to attract several 2016 Olympians from across the country to vie for a national title and share of the $30,000 prize purse. The Grand Blue Mile also hosted the 2013 and 2014 USA 1 Mile Road Championships.

Courtesy of the Drake Relays, Click Here! Feature photo: Chad Noelle leads the pack in the 2016 Grand Blue Mile. His winning time was 4:12.11©Jim Kirby 2016

“We are honored to welcome back the USA 1 Mile Road Championships to the Midwest’s premier community street run,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark corporate sponsorship manager. “The Grand Blue Mile has gained notoriety over the past seven years as one of the best races in the nation because of its appeal to runners of all ages and abilities. Hosting these championships on the heels of USA Track & Field’s historic showing in Rio brings a national focus to the overall goal of Grand Blue Mile — encouraging healthy habits and empowering positive change.”

In 2014, more than 25 American track and field stars competed for the national title at GBM. Leo Manzano, 2012 Olympic 1500m silver medalist, won the men’s championship with a time of 4:05.71. The women’s championship was captured by Heather Kampf, who set a course record of 4:32.62. She followed that performance with consecutive GBM Invitational Championship titles in 2015 and 2016, becoming the event’s first competitor to successfully three-peat.

Coming off the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the 2017 GBM has the potential to see several medalists and finalists return to Des Moines. A few of the 2016 Olympians who have participated in past GBMs include:

·         Matthew Centrowitz – Gold medalist in the 1500m and 2015 GBM Invitational Champion
·         Bernard Lagat – 5th place finish in the 5000m
·         Nathan Brannen – 10th place finish in the 5000m
·         Shannon Rowbury – 4th place finish in the 1500m
·         Kate Grace – 8th place finish in the 800m and 2013 USA 1 Mile Champion (Grand Blue Mile)

“Now in its eighth running, the Grand Blue Mile continues to captivate the national track and field community, while providing an unparalleled Drake Relays experience for thousands of central Iowans,” said Blake Boldon, Drake Relays director. “We’re thankful to Wellmark for their visionary partnership in helping develop this special tradition.”

Last year’s GBM drew more than 4,200 registrants who participated among the elite, competitive, recreational run/walk, and corporate team categories. The one-mile course loops through the streets of downtown Des Moines, finishing in Des Moines Western Gateway. Registration for the 2017 Grand Blue Mile, which takes place on April 25, opens in February.

For more information on the Grand Blue Mile, visit www.GrandBlueMile.com.

Chad Noelle leads the pack in the 2016 Grand Blue Mile.  His winning time was 4:12.11
©Jim Kirby 2016

Registration is Now Open For the 2017 Drake Relays Grand Blue Mile and Road Races

Heather Kampf repeats as champion in the 2016 Grand Blue Mile in a time of 4:37.52 ©Jim Kirby 2016

Heather Kampf repeats as champion in the 2016 Grand Blue Mile in a time of 4:37.52
©Jim Kirby 2016

Registration for two of the premier road races in central Iowa is now open with a unique twist for runners competing in both the Wellmark Grand Blue Mile and the Drake Road Races. The opening of registration marks exactly 10 weeks until professional, competitive and recreational runners take to the streets of the Des Moines for the Grand Blue Mile April, 25.

Courtesy Drake Relays, for registration and other details Click Here! Feature photo: Chad Noelle leads the pack in the 2016 Grand Blue Mile. His winning time was 4:12.11 ©Jim Kirby 2016

Athletes competing in both events will also receive the first ‘Bulldog Double’ finisher medals to commemorate their accomplishment of finishing both the Grand Blue Mile and either the Drake Relays 5k or Half Marathon four days later. Those that complete the Grand Blue Mile and 5k will receive the ‘Spike’ Bulldog Double medal and those running the Grand Blue Mile and Half Marathon will earn the ‘Griff’ Bulldog Double medal.

All Drake Road Races participants receive a long sleeve technical shirt and finisher medal, while the Grand Blue Mile participants receive a short sleeve technical shirt. Registration for the Drake Road Races also includes one paid admission to the Thursday, April 27, Distance Carnival inside Drake Stadium and a discount ticket rate of $17 to Hy-Vee Night at the Drake Relays Friday, April 28.

The current early bird registration rate is available until March 6 is $15 for the Grand Blue Mile, $25 for the Drake Road Races 5k and $40 for the Drake Road Races Half Marathon.