ONLINE EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE BY ADAM ROGAN
It’s just around the corner, less than two months away: the 2016 Drake Relays. And the hype is only beginning to build.
Drake Relays Director Brian Brown made an announcement to the press this afternoon in the Capital Square Atrium in downtown Des Moines, outlining some of the major early events for the 107th annual Drake Relays.
The principal announcement was that the pole vault event would be held on the evening of Wednesday, April 27 inside The Atrium at Capital Square on the 400 block of Locust Ave, continuing the tradition of hosting the event off-campus in a prominent location in Des Moines. Former hosts have been the Jordan Creek Mall and outdoors on Court Avenue.
The sponsors of the event will be the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Host Commission and the Des Moines Register, who already have offices within the Capital Square building.
The atrium nearly ten stories in height and indoors, with walkways stretching over and around where the pole vault will be held down below, providing a plethora of vantage points for fans to watch the event.
“(The Atrium at Capital Square has the) capacity to be able to … allow for our fans to get up close and personal with the event,” Brown said.
Brown followed by confirming three of the top competitors who will be featured in the event: Canadian Shawn Barber and Americans Sandi Morris and Demi Payne.
Barber is currently ranked second in the world for Men’s Pole Vault after two first place finishes in 2015 at the Pan American Games and the World Championships. He also recently joined the “6 meter club” for achieving a jump of 19-feet-8-inches at the Pole Vault Summit in January, setting the Canadian national record.
Morris and Payne are both ranked in the top-11 female pole vaulters in the world. Both of their personal bests are just below five meters.
Thus far, 29 Olympians have been confirmed for the Drake Relays, 17 of whom are former medalists (eight gold, five silver, four bronze), although no names have been announced as of yet besides the three vaulters. The next sets of athletes will be announced on March 15 and 17. Most of the remaining fields being fully confirmed throughout the week of March 21.
During the announcement, Brown stressed three motifs for the 2016 Drake Relays: consistency, capacity, and community. Through the consistent, high-level competition that the Relays has featured over the years, the capacity for the spectacle that brings the community together has increased, Brown said.
“We always try to provide something that the fans will be proud of,” Brown said.
Brown closed the event with an invitation to the Des Moines and Drake communities, imploring people to come out on April 27 for the pole vault and “a couple hours of world-class competition.”