By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
(29-Nov) -- The Drake Relays got an unexpected boost yesterday from Iowa-based supermarket chain Hy-Vee which pledged more than half a million dollars in sponsorship for the April, 2013, meeting. Meet director Brian Brown already put some of that cash to work, snaring 16 current Olympic medalists, including the entire podium from the men's 110 and 400-meter hurdle finals. Hy-Vee officials said the meet would have a whopping $500,000 in prize money.
The announcement took at least several industry insiders Race Results Weekly contacted today completely by surprise. The Drake Relays had become the third wheel of USA track meets held on the final weekend in April, overshadowed by the better-funded Penn Relays in Philadelphia and the top distance marks set at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto. But $50,000 prize money purses in each of the running events and $25,000 in field events are likely to change those perceptions dramatically.
"The Drake Relays is one of the crown jewels of track and field, an event that has transcended athletic competition to become a true community celebration," explained Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO and president of Hy-Vee, Inc., in a statement. "Hy-Vee is thrilled to partner with Drake as the university builds on a proud tradition and ushers in an exciting new era for the Relays."
Part of the Hy-Vee sponsorship package includes $120,000 in prize money for a suite of road races which will be held in conjunction with the meet. Those include the Wellmark Grand Blue Mile, 10-kilometer race, half marathon, and a new 6-kilometer race staged in conjunction with Character Counts in Iowa, a charity which helps Iowans practice and recognize good character.
Hy-Vee's money is also buying 90 minutes in prime time on ESPN2.
"Our relationship with Hy-Vee will further the legacy of the Drake Relays as never imagined before," said meet director Brown in a statement. "The athletes and fans will be truly inspired by the level of competition at the Blue Oval for the 104th running of America’s Athletic Classic. I have never been this excited about the athletes that you will see compete at the Drake Relays this year."
Brown announced the following events would be contested with these marquis athletes:
Men's 400m: Luguelin Santos (DOM), Silver Medalist; Lalonde Gordon (TRI), Bronze Medalist; Oscar Pistorius, finalist.
Men's 110mH: Aries Merritt (USA) Gold Medalist; Jason Richardson (USA) Silver Medalist; Hansle Parchment (JAM) Bronze Medalist.
Men's 400mH: Felix Sanchez (DOM), Gold Medalist; Michael Tinsley (USA), Silver Medalist; Javier Culson (PUR), Bronze Medalist.
Men's PV: Renaud Lavillenie (FRA), Gold Medalist; Bjorn Otto (GER), Silver Medalist
Men's TJ: Will Claye (USA), Silver Medalist
Women's 110mH: Dawn Harper (USA), Silver Medalist; Kelly Wells (USA), Bronze Medalist
Women's PV: Jenn Suhr (USA), Gold Medalist; Becky Holliday (USA), Olympic Finalist
Women's LJ: Brittney Reese (USA), Gold Medalist; Janay DeLoach (USA), Bronze Medalist
The The 104th Drake Relays is scheduled for April 24-27 at Drake Stadium. More information is available at this link: