On the Spot with Brian Brown

Brian Brown, Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays

We gave Drake students, alumni and community members the opportunity to ask Brian Brown, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays, anything they wanted to know about “America’s Athletic Classic,” which celebrates its 103rd running April 26–28. Here’s what they wanted to know:

Jason Sigal, BN’10: What are some of the first steps in planning for the next year’s Drake Relays?

Brown: The first consideration is always this: vision. Our vision for the fan experience, through the ongoing events of Relays Week, is what defines the Drake Relays as a major community event rather than just another track meet. So I always ask myself, “What momentous occasion can our fans experience next year?” This line of thinking has resulted in popular traditions such as the Grand Blue Mile, Downtown Street Painting and Pole Vault in the Mall.

Rich Hoidahl, Relays attendee for 63 consecutive years: What is on your bucket list of things you’d like to accomplish as director of Drake Relays?

Check out video footage from multiple angles at last year’s Pole Vault in the Mall.

Brown: My goals for the Drake Relays fall into two categories: events and image. I have several community events that I’d love to host. We’ve been toying with the idea of a shot put event at Simon Estes Amphitheater near the Des Moines River and a long jump competition on the pedestrian walking bridge (a picturesque location, but accommodating spectators may present a challenge).

Regarding image, I’d love to strengthen the pride and appreciation that community members and competitors have for the Relays; to create a culture that identifies the Relays as a rite of passage, a place in time for athletes and fans, and the home meet for everyone who participates.

Mark Movic, BN’77: Are we going to get the Olympic Team Trials in 2016?

Brown: Actually, that’s another goal on my bucket list. But more than that, it’s a very real possibility. Drake is making significant efforts, including a commitment to ongoing capital projects, to ensure that we’re a strong contender for the Olympic Team Trials. Furthermore, there is a growing number of community leaders who are working to bring the trials to Des Moines — we’ll need that buy-in to make it happen.

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