cover of book

The Drake Relays: America's Athletic Classic
by David Peterson
University of Iowa Press, 2014
Paper: 978-1-60938-229-2 | eISBN: 978-1-60938-256-8
Library of Congress Classification GV691.D73P48 2014
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.420977758

The Drake Relays are one of the iconic events of track and field in the United States. World and Olympic champions test their speed and stamina on the famed Blue Oval in Des Moines, Iowa, every April, and by spring 2013 they had set fourteen world records and fifty-one American records. But unlike most other top meets, this one also features college athletes from all over the country and high school athletes from across Iowa, giving them the experience of a lifetime—competing on the same track with the elite in their sport. This mix brings many enthusiastic spectators to the stadium and makes for an unusually close bond between fans and athletes—it’s as if everyone’s family is there cheering.

Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer David Peterson has been covering the Drake Relays for nearly forty years, but his love affair with the meet started earlier, when he ran on three winning relay teams there for Kansas State University. Now, drawing upon an unmatched personal archive, he offers the pictures of a lifetime spent on the Blue Oval. He captures on camera athletes of all levels in triumph and defeat, in mid-stride or leap, embracing their fans, their moms and dads, and their kids. In addition to the stars of the past, such as Carl Lewis, Suzy Favor Hamilton, and Herschel Walker, and those of the ’00s, like Lolo Jones and Jeremy Wariner, we see teenagers who may be the stars of the future, as well as the many athletes who will never be famous but nonetheless show themselves—and their sport—at their best.

A beautiful celebration of the Drake Relays and the diverse sports that make up “track and field,” this book will evoke memories and inspire runners, throwers, and jumpers everywhere.

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