ABC5 Sports Desk
DES MOINES, Iowa – Drake University announced today that Hy-Vee, Inc., will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Drake Relays in a partnership that promises to enhance and elevate the already sterling reputation of the Drake Relays.
"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," says Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO and president of Hy-Vee, Inc. "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 that exciting new era is more than half a million dollars in purse money for a field that currently features 16 medalists from the 2012 London Olympic Games and a world record holder already confirmed to compete at the Relays with more to potentially join the star-studded field at a later date. Those Olympians and professional athletes will compete in ‘London Rematches' for a $50,000 purse in the running events and a $25,000 purse in the field events. The purses are the largest for an event in the United States and $20,000 more than is offered by the Diamond League, the sport's top professional circuit.
"Our relationship with Hy-Vee will further the legacy of the Drake Relays as never imagined before," says Brian Brown, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays. "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."
The Relays and those athletes, including 2012 Olympic gold medalists Aries Merritt, Felix Sanchez, Renaud Lavillenie, Jenn Suhr, and Brittney Reese, will be featured on ESPN2 with 90 minutes of action being broadcast to nearly 100 million homes in prime time.
In addition to the enhanced level of professional competition inside Drake Stadium, the partnership with Hy-Vee will also invigorate the Relays' road races with $120,000 in prize money awarded to the top finishers in the Wellmark Grand Blue Mile, 10-kilometer race, half marathon, and a new 6-kilometer race staged in conjunction with Character Counts in Iowa. The 6-kilometer distance is representative of Character Counts in Iowa's Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. Character Counts in Iowa will receive a portion of the proceeds from the 6-kilometer race.
"The new Hy-Vee road races will take new prominence with a finish in the stadium on Sunday and prizes like we've never seen before," Brown said. "This will be a Drake Relays that you do not want to miss."
Those road races will continue the Drake Relays and Hy-Vee's long-time support and commitment to health and athletics and ensure that the Relays remain an integral part of the Des Moines community.
"There's no better partner than Hy-Vee to help take the Drake Relays to a place of extraordinary greatness and success," says Drake Director of Athletic Sandy Hatfield Clubb. "Our shared commitment to excellence and the health and vitality of our community makes this a perfect partnership."
Hy-Vee's sponsorship of the Drake Relays is one of many examples of the company's long-standing relationship with Drake University, which includes a $300,000 gift this past July to create the Hy-Vee Student Learning Commons in the Morgan E. Cline Atrium for Pharmacy and Science.
"We are extremely grateful to Hy-Vee for their generosity and commitment in helping to take the Drake Relays to the next level," says Drake University President David Maxwell. "The Relays have enjoyed the support and engagement of the Des Moines community; Hy-Vee has taken a giant step in making it a truly collaborative undertaking. We look forward to our strengthened partnership, which will ensure that the Relays continue to be one of the world's premier track and field events."
The 104th installment of what promises to be one of the greatest Drake Relays in its storied history is scheduled for April 24-27 at Drake Stadium.