Weekend Festivities Kick Off Drake Relays Events

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Drake Relays kicked off this weekend with beautiful bulldogs and street painting.

Street painting is a Drake Relays tradition that starting in the 1970s, where organizations and clubs paint a square along this sidewalk in the middle of campus, the painting must follow a central theme. This year’s student-developed theme is “life in the fast lane” each student organization can sign up to paint a square that represents their club and the student relays' theme.

And every year the students end up becoming a canvas of their own when the street painting turns into a paint fight.

“The fight’s always a good time, you’ve got to get out here and mess it up for everybody that’s doing this thing, so they have to start their whole painted square all over,” one Drake University student said.

This is the 109th year of Drake Relays and on Sunday there was the Beautiful Bulldog contest, this year’s winner is Bow-Z. She is a two-year-old English bulldog from Pella. She and her owners wore traditional Dutch costumes that represent the culture of Pella.

Bow-Z competed against 40 other bulldogs with more than 2,000 spectators on Sunday. The winner of the contest is the Drake Relay’s mascot for an entire year. One goal of the contest is to educate the public about animal shelters around the state. Bow-Z was in the Animal Lifeline of Iowa shelter just last year.

“What we love about her story is that last year she was an adoptable bulldog on the track and now she’s a winner of the beautiful bulldog contest with her forever home,” Director of the Beautiful Bulldog contest Niki Smith said.

This year Forest Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from 27th to 29th street from 2 P.M. Thursday to 5 P.M. Saturday. Forest Avenue will host food vendors and attractions outside of Drake Stadium.

“The Drake Relays features thrilling competition by some of the most impressive high school, collegiate, and elite athletes in the state of Iowa, the nation, and the world—but it is also much more than a track and field meet,” said Drake University President Marty Martin. “This year’s decision to close Forest Avenue to vehicular traffic will enhance the Relays' community atmosphere, create a more seamless integration between Drake Stadium and Drake’s campus, and increase public safety.”

Here are some of the events this week:

TUESDAY, APRIL 24
6–8 PM Grand Blue Mile
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25
2–4 PM Weaver Medal of Honor
6–9 PM Vault at CapSquare
THURSDAY, APRIL 26
4:30–9 PM Relays Distance Carnival
5:15–6:30 PM Alumni Awards Ceremony
FRIDAY, APRIL 27
8 AM–3:45 PM Track & Field Events
3:30–5:30 PM New Building Tours
5–9 PM All-Alumni Tent Party
5–7 PM 
CBPA Alumni Gathering
5–9:10 PM Hy-Vee Night
6:30–8:30 PM Track/Cross Country Reunion
SATURDAY, APRIL 28
8–10 AM Fleet Feet Sports Social Run
8:30 AM–4:30 PM Track & Field Events
10:30 AM–12:30 PM Young Alumni Brunch
2–4 PM LGBTQ+ Reception
4–8 PM Greek Reunion
5–7 PM SJMC Alumni Reception

Click here for a schedule of all the relays this week.