Prep Track and Field

Blake Boldon missing his busy routine during Drake Relays

Postponed track and field meet would have been this weekend

Drake Relays director Blake Boldon, posing at Drake Stadium in Des Moines in 2017, is hopeful a track and field meet wil
Drake Relays director Blake Boldon, posing at Drake Stadium in Des Moines in 2017, is hopeful a track and field meet will be held here in 2020. (The Gazette)

Blake Boldon went for a run Tuesday night in Des Moines and couldn’t help but notice the conditions.

“Tuesday night would have been perfect,” he said. “Sixty degrees, no wind ... perfect running weather.”

Tuesday would have been the night of the Drake Relay’s 11th “Grand Blue Mile.” Interest was high and the field was promising.

“We would have seen record performances,” Boldon said.

Alas, the coronavirus pandemic took that — and all sporting events — away this spring. Bolden, who would have been directing his fourth Drake Relays this weekend, is optimistic some kind of world-class track and field meet will be held at Drake Stadium in 2020.

The Drake Relays remain “postponed.” They have not been canceled. But Boldon admits he doesn’t know when or how — yet.

“We’re working to host a track and field meet, and the Grand Blue Mile and the road races,” he said Thursday. “We’re as prepared as possible ... as any track and field meet staff.”

But too many unknowns remain and Boldon admits a track and field meet in the near future isn’t top of mind for a lot of people suffering through this unprecedented time.

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“We understand that while our event is an institution ... it’s not larger than the challenge we are facing,” he said.

The Drake Relays are a unique sporting event in that it usually brings Iowa’s best high school runners, throwers and jumpers together with the some of the best collegiate and professional runners in the world.

Boldon said he and his staff meet weekly, planning a track and field meet that would, at least, be similar to that format. The high school and collegiate seasons have been canceled, however, so when a meet is held would dictate what shape it would take.

“All options are on the table,” he said. “It would be too early to speak to those specifics. ... (but) we have thought through every scenario.”

Boldon said he feels for those seniors — high school and college — who are missing their final seasons. He won a state title as a senior at Clarke High School and a Drake Relays title as a senior at Missouri State.

“It’s hard to comprehend,” he said. “My senior year in high school, I had a remarkable breakthrough ... a life-changing moment.

“It’s an experience I will never forget.”

Boldon said he misses his regular routine, even though that meant long hours, running around Drake Stadium and Des Moines, making sure all the events associated with the Drake Relays were running smoothly.

He was supposed to speaking at the Hall of Fame luncheon Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s always an incredibly special event,” he said. “My routine is not my normal routine.”

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But, he said, he has been able to stay busy, keeping the Drake Relays relevant even though there is no competition on the track or in the field.

The late Paul Morrison, known to many as “Mr. Drake,” once said the Drake Relays are “Des Moines’ window to the world.” Boldon expanded on that, noting the event is “Iowa’s window to the world.”

He’s trying to keep that window open by hosting chats and interviews with former directors and world-class athletes on Instagram and other social media platforms. He said “seven of the world’s best athletes” have agreed to share their Drake Relays memories with him on Instragram on Friday.

“It has been good to have meaningful work to do,” he said. “I think next week ... the coming weeks, it will become more normal.”

Normal, of course, always includes promoting and selling track and field and the Drake Relays.

“The Drake Relays will be here in the future,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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