STORY BY BETH LEVALLEY
Anyone can tell that a lot of work goes into the Drake Relays, but most of the time, the small details are the ones that go underappreciated.
Over 500 volunteers, staff members and officials help each year to ensure all the details are executed properly. With around 40,500 people attending the Relays each year, those smaller tasks add up fast.
Carolyn Hill, the assistant Drake Relays director, also provides sports information for Drake athletics.
She said the Relays have over 250 volunteers who work a variety of positions, including basket carriers, hospitality tent workers, runners, field event volunteers and awards tent workers.
The field event volunteers do mostly manual field work, which means raking the pit, replacing the high jump bar and various other tasks, said Hill.
Drake student organizations can volunteer at the concession stand and the organization is allowed to keep part of the profit from the concessions.
To coordinate those volunteer and staff members, Drake Relays provides clothing and lunch for those who help.
“We give out upwards of 3,500 pieces,” Hill said. “We also have pens that are given to sponsors and supporters.”
Drake orders 1,000 button pins for officials, sponsors and promotions each year.
To increase efficiency, Drake uses 14 golf carts to travel around the stadium and campus.
Hill mentioned that extra security was needed for the Relays, including Drake Public Safety (DPS), the Des Moines Police and a local security company.
Director of DPS Scott Law said during Relays week the DPS increases their hours to two 12-hour shifts, and they increase coverage by about one-third overall.
“Campus and patrol are our primary concerns,” Law said. “We also want to ensure that the actual Relays event is safe for everyone there.”
Drake also hires anywhere from three to 12 Des Moines Police Department officers to assist with Relays week. They assist during Relays campus events, stadium events and events off campus, like the concert.
“Our biggest reason for increasing security is the increased population during Relays week,” Law said. “On a given day, there are about 5,000 people on campus.
During Relays week, this number quadruples, and we see anywhere from 15 to 20,000 people.”
Drake Public Safety gets more calls during Relays week, ranging from topics such as lost keys to medical emergencies from being in the sun too long, Law said. They work to maintain a safeatmosphere for all Relays events.
While DPS attempts to manage the large crowds, the Relays office tries to increase attendance.
According to Ryan Harris, Drake athletics manager of ticket sales and donor management, they are right on track with the past two years’ overall attendance.
The largest overall attendance recorded was in 2013 with 45,838 people in the stands over the course of the four sessions.