The first Drake Relays was dreamt up by John Griffith, the athletic director, football coach, and track coach at Drake. He wanted athletes to become interested in track earlier in the season so he invited colleges and high schools to the first ‘Drake Relay carnival’.
The first years poor results did not discourage Griffith, who began making plans for a 1911 ‘meet of champions’. He focused on relay races to get more runners involved. He also organized a dinner for visiting coaches and officials.
The second year, Griffith got the attendance he’d hoped for; 250 athletes.
Drake Relays was and still is the home of many firsts and historic moments.
Today, Drake Relays still plays host to world-class athletes and up and coming high school stars. The event has become so popular, Drake University considers Relays its homecoming, though an official homecoming is still held in the fall. Over the years more events such as street painting and a Beautiful Bulldog competition were added to the Relays festivities. People come from all over. For tradition. For reunions. For the love of the competitive spirit. Whatever the reason spectators come, Relays is still going strong 103 years later.