DES MOINES, Iowa — No Relays? No problem.
Later this month, Drake Stadium will play host to a brand new professional track and field event.
Drake Relays director Blake Boldon announced Monday that Drake would be hosting the Blue Oval Classic, a one-time event that will bring professional track and field athletes to the Jim Duncan Track on Aug. 29.
Boldon said the return of track and field to the Blue Oval will be handled based on safety guidelines put in place by campus, local and state health officials, as well as guidelines from both national and international governing bodies in the world of track and field.
"For months, our staff has been in constant communication and collaboration with local leadership and USA Track & Field to create an event that returns the sport of track and field to competition safely," Boldon said in a statement.
The competition will feature roughly 100 athletes and eight or nine events, including the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships. The events being featured are ones that have been deemed "low-risk" by USA Track and Field, and every race will use every other lane to minimize personal contact.
The event, however, is closed to the public.
Only competitors and officials are allowed on the actual competition surface, and a limited number of event staff and credentialed athlete support staff will be allowed in the stadium's seating area.
For those allowed inside, social distancing guidelines will be in place, along with requiring masks when appropriate, according to Boldon.
Boldon said athletes will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms when they get to central Iowa. Those competing in the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships will have to show proof of a negative test before they come to Des Moines, and will be tested again after they get here.
The announcement comes after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020 Drake Relays to be postponed until next year.
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Boldon said while this doesn't compare to the main event, he's still happy to be able to bring track and field back to Iowa.
"While we were disappointed to postpone the 111th Drake Relays presented by Xtream, it was certainly the right decision," Boldon said.
"With the health and well-being of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, and our community of paramount concern, we're excited to be the first significant professional track & field competition to be staged on American soil since March."