My favorite competition in all of college was the Drake Relays. I’m a high-anxiety individual, and I basically operated in a state of near-dread throughout the entire track season. Most of this pressure was self-induced, but I couldn’t help it. I so badly wanted to qualify first for the West Regional meet, then wanted to make sure I scored points at PAC-12s and could put myself in a position to make it to NCAAs.
None of these objectives can be accomplished in the middle distances at the Drake Relays, and that’s exactly what made it so fantastic. The Drake Relays forced me to remember that relays are fun, and that I actually like what I’m doing. I’ve never felt a stronger sense of team than when I’m running on a relay, and it is really comforting to lean on a teammate when nerves kick in. Drake allowed my teammates and I to disconnect from form charts and TFRRS, and just to compete for the sake of competition. We were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief and Icy Hot, slap on some questionable temporary tattoos, and go race for one another.
The Drake relays are great, too, because all of Des Moines joins in the party. The relays are complete with discounted cab services and a tipsy student body. The atmosphere and attendance are amazing, which is somewhat of a rarity for a track and field event.
I remember huddling in the downpour with my teammates and watching the professional events at Drake. Drake Relays always hosted a badass 1500m field, and this was the first time I got to see some of my role models compete in-person. I really looked up to these women, and it was inspiring to watch them compete. This year, the 2-mile is being contested in place of the 1500m. I’ve gained entry to this event, and I could not be more thankful or nostalgic.