“It is the difference of opinion,” Mark Twain once quipped, “that makes horse races.” The day that they laid our greatest American sage six feet under, a track meet was born. In 1908 John L. Griffith, (former athletic director, Morningside College- How about that Jay Welp!) perceived the need for a competitive track and field meet between Omaha and Chicago. The Penn Relays (established 1893) the only such event being contested at the time.
The Drake Relays were established in 1910. Griffith had planned things to a T, the one thing he couldn’t control got the inaugural edition off to a chilly start. After a near balmy week of 70s leading into the weekend’s carnival, Saturday brought an “unprecedented blizzard”. Eighty two of the original 250 athletes ran 11 different relays. Drake, Simpson, Des Moines, and Highland Park were the 4 colleges represented. Five of the eleven races featured Sunday School teams, literary societies, and class teams. The crowd consisted of 100 Drake students.
A lot has happened in the last 108 years. The annual festival is April 25-28 and expect more history to be made.
The 2018 USA 1 Mile Road National Championships have kicked things off in Des Moines for the last several years. Perfect marriage between road and track!
The last time Linda and I attended Drake our USA 1 Mile Road Champs were held on a very chilly evening indeed. My favorite pic during the race introductions, Elkhorn’s own Alice Schmidt getting ready to fly!
The men’s race featured winner Garret Heath (#4) and #1 Leo Manzano.