Drake Relays -25April04 - IAAF report


18,000 sellout crowd brave weather but are delivered good entertainment – Drake Relays
Sunday 25 April 2004
Des Moines, Iowa , (USA) - A day of rain, wind, and low temperatures (10-12 C) on Saturday (24 April) made a couple of thousand athletes miserable, but it didn’t stop many of them from producing quite good early season performances at the 95th Drake Relays in this Midwestern city of 200,000. And remarkably, most of a sellout crowd of 18,000 came and stayed through the afternoon.

Not to harp too much on the weather, but it really was awful. Two examples of its effects: Firstly, the University of Wyoming’s women’s 4x400 led Friday’s qualifying heats with an excellent 3:33.01 (on Friday). On Saturday the same team, one assumes with extra adrenaline, could produce no better than 3:39.11 in the final. And Secondly, one member of a winning men’s 4x100 team said, "We had trouble with our handoffs; the baton almost squirted out (of our hands) a few times.

Track favourite Felicien wins

Some of the best performances were turned in by hurdlers. Double world champion Perdita Felicien of Canada, who got into the habit of competing at Drake while attending the University of Illinois – where she still trains with coach Gary Winckler – won her 100m hurdles race in 13.00 into a 2.2m/s headwind. Responding to the crowd (she is a favourite here), and the weather, she said, “I don’t know if I’d be out here if I were a spectator.”

Four men were under 13.70 in the 110-metres Hurdles. Dawane Wallace won the invitation race in 13.47, beating Ron Bramlett (13.53) and Aubrey Herring (13.64), as all ran into a 2.1 m/s head wind. In the universities race, David Payne won in13.65 despite a 2.2 m/s head wind.

Paris 2003 silver medalist and native Iowan Joey Woody, now almost 31 but still going strong, won his seventh Drake 400 Hurdles in 49.18, easing (or tiring) on the run-in but still only a second behind his Paris time.

The 29-year-old Kenyan Bernard Lagat ignored a too-fast pace maker and kicked in 57.3 to win the Mile by 25 metres in 3:57.11 from fellow Kenyan Boaz Cheboiywo, second in 4:00.51.

Andrew Rock, so far the sensation of the American season, made another strong impression here, beating 44.60 man Mitch Potter by 10 metres in 45.79, and also running a strong relay leg in 45.3. Although Michael Johnson is no longer competing, this looks like a vintage year for American one-lap men.

Cantwell win over Hoffa

In the field events, world indoor shot put champion Christian Cantwell won his event here with a throw of 20.64, more than a metre better than indoor silver medalist Reese Hoffa. Cantwell said, “The conditions took away 1 1/2 to 2 metres.”

The vertical jumps were all moved indoors. The best performance was a 4.71 clearance by helmet-wearing Toby “The Cat in the Hat” Stevenson.

Jim Dunaway for the IAAF