Olympic hurdler Queen Harrison is among those expected to return to the blue oval in Des Moines this year. Photo by Dave Mable.

Drake Relays: First test for director Blake Boldon

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The Drake Relays have been a Des Moines tradition for more than 100 years and are now under the leadership of Relays Director Blake Bolden. Photo by Dave Mable

DES MOINES, Iowa – Blake Boldon, the first-year director of the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee, unveiled a series of enhancements for the upcoming Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee that will appeal to fans, athletes and the track & field community as a whole.

Boldon announced that the Capital Square Vault, one of the highlights of the 2016 Relays, will be returning in 2017 with host sponsors Catch Des Moines and the Des Moines Register. The event, staged in the atrium of Capital Square in downtown Des Moines April 26 at 5:45 p.m., continues the Relays’ tradition of taking events into the community and giving fans a more up close and personal experience with the competition and world class athletes.

Americans Sam Kendricks and Sandi Morris are two of those world-class athletes set to entertain the Capital Square Vault crowd as they launch themselves to dizzying heights inside Capital Square. Both Kendricks and Morris are the reigning U.S. Indoor Champions in the event and Olympic medalists after Morris claimed the silver medal in last summer’s Rio Olympic Games while Kendricks was the bronze medalist in the event.

Heather Kampf will return to defend her Grand Blue Mile victory. Photo by Dave Mable

Heather Kampf will return to defend her Grand Blue Mile victory. Photo by Dave Mable

Earlier in the week, the annual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark gives the Des Moines community the opportunity to cheer on and race on the same course as the top road mile competitors in the nation. The Grand Blue Mile will again serve as the U.S. Road Mile Championship with a $25,000 prize purse available for competitors. Heather Kampf, a three-time U.S. Road Mile champion and four-time Grand Blue Mile champion is set to defend her titles on the streets of Des Moines. Chad Noelle, the reigning men’s Grand Blue Mile champion is also returning the field after making his professional debut at the event last season.

Olympic hurdler Queen Harrison is among those expected to return to the blue oval in Des Moines this year. Photo by Dave Mable.

Olympic hurdler Queen Harrison is among those expected to return to the blue oval in Des Moines this year. Photo by Dave Mable.

Inside Drake Stadium, Boldon announced tweaks to the Relays schedule to better serve athletes and fans. The high school girls 3,000 meters and high school boys 3,200 meters have been moved to Thursday evening’s distance carnival at 6:10 and 6:25 p.m. The move reduces missed class time for high school athletes and provides a bigger stage for the top distance runners in the state of Iowa as part of the traditional Distance Carnival event on the Blue Oval.

To further serve high school competitors, Boldon announced an additional section of the high school 400-meter hurdles has been added to the schedule, doubling the number of opportunities for athletes to compete in the event.

All-session and multi-session ticket packages for the 2017 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee are currently available at DrakeTix.com, by visiting the Drake Athletic Ticket Office or calling 515-271-3647. Single-session tickets go on sale to the general public at March 23 at 9 a.m.