Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Great Weekend of Relays!

    Another year of the Drake Relays has come and passed. This event, which has taken place annually for the past 103 years occurs on the last weekend of April when some of the world’s best athletes in track and field make their way to Des Moines to compete! This year certainly didn’t disappoint, there were some very exciting races! As a member of the track team, you can probably guess where I spent most of my time the past few days. One downside to the Relays is its timing: it occurs right before the last week of school, a time where I should probably be immersed in my studies, they got shoved to the wayside for the last few days. That means today and for the rest of the year, I’ll be studying hard and trying to finish out the school year strong! (It’s amazing how many parallels there are between running, faith, school, etc…). A few highlights of this year were:

•    The Weather! – the forecast looked pretty bad all week, but luckily the rain held off and never advanced into anything beyond a light drizzle. The meet was temporary suspended for a half hour or so on Friday night, but other than that, we were really blessed with the weather. It would have been nice to be a bit warmer, but I’m certainly not complaining with this years conditions compared to years’ past.
•    The Distance Carnival – takes place on Thursday night, it’s the night when everyone packs the stadium to watch athletes run the 5k (12.5 laps) and the 10k (25 laps)… not! In all honesty, it’s probably my one of my favorite events to watch for several reasons.
1.    As a distance runner myself, it’s impressive to watch a bunch of athletes push themselves for an extended period of time. Their efforts resonate with me.
2.    The Isisseretes are in the house! They’re a youth drumline and play throughout the night! They’re really good, and I don’t know what it is about the drums, but I just love it! In the fall, I was hoping to be able to run in the 10k this past Thursday, but I’m still not fit enough to compete with those guys. I know with that kind of competition and the drums, I’d for sure be on my way to a new personal best! Check out a video of them below!
•    Relays on the Road – A road race (8k or half-marathon) that takes place on the Saturday of relays, close to 1,000 people ran this year. I ran as well, and was hoping to dip under 26:00 (my old PB from cross country was 26:10) and I ended up running 25:38, which was good enough for 6th place. I was really pleased with my performance, and it should be a good enough time for me to run the 10k at our conference meet in Wichita, KA in the two weeks.
•    Salute to Our Troops Ceremony – This year a ceremony to honor and remember members of our ceremony kicked off the Saturday afternoon session. My coach was looking for volunteers to help carry a flag out onto the field for the “National Anthem” and “God Bless America”. I thought we’d only need a few people, but boy was I wrong! It turned out that this was no ordinary flag – it covers the entire field: end zone to end zone and sideline to sideline and weighs about 1,100 lbs! We ended up scrambling to get enough people to pull this off, we rounded up spectators, athletes, anyone we could find. The process itself was very interesting, and I learned a lot about the history of our flag from some of the Veterans who helped out as well. One thing I didn’t know is that it’s very disrespectful for any part of the flag to touch the ground. In order for this to be avoided, when it’s unveiled, people have to run under it to make sure this doesn’t happen. That was my job in the ceremony. It was something really cool to be a part of, when I was under the flag I couldn’t see anything outside, but the crowd loved it, and they even had fireworks! Check out some of the pictures I took below!
•    Catching up with old Friends – Relays is one of the best times to catch up with alumni and old friends. This year I got to see several former teammates who graduated last year (who I hadn’t seen until this weekend) and a friend from a Christian running camp I attended in CA the past two summers. The races always bring them back!

The Flag Unveiled! I'm somewhere under it in the lower right-hand corner

Unloading the flag from the truck

The line was about 80m long!

Underneath the flag during the National Anthem, making sure it doesn't touch the ground

With Boaz Lalang, winner of the Men's Invitational Mile, and a favorite to medal in the 800m this summer in London.

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