Running of the Bulldogs

I went to the annual Drake Relays last weekend and ran the 10K road race. I can say, I ran like a Bulldog*. Or more accurately, I panted like a Bulldog.


The inaugural Drake Relays was held in 1910. So this was the 106th year of this event. It was a 5-day meet with competition in track and fields.

Over the years, hundreds of Olympic medalist have competed in the Drake Relays, like Bruce Jenner (yes, that’s him or now her?), Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, and Jesse Owens to name a few.

By the way, if you don’t know, Bruce Jenner is a former track and field athlete, and won a gold medal in Decathlon in 1976 summer olympics. So he (or she) was already famous before the Kardashian’s fame and way before the sex change.

Bulldogs stadium or also known as the Blue Stadium

Drake Stadium, home of the Bulldogs

Back to the Drake Relays, due to good sponsorships, it is also one of the richest athletic event in the US. For example, the winner of the half marathon was awarded $70,000 prize money, while the winner of the 10K was given $40,000. But I would never get that. Maybe if they have a prize for the slowest?

Even though these events attract elite athletes, it was also open for wannabe athletes like me, especially the road races. After all, if anybody can get an athlete’s foot, then anybody can be an athlete, right?


For the past five consecutive years I have participated in the Des Moines Marathon (I ran the half-marathon, 21K) which is held every fall. But this was my first time to join the Drake Relays. And also the first time to run the 10K.


As I came a little early, I had time to take some pictures. Then when it was time to line up, I had to find my place in the starting line.


Oh, that’s the elite runners group, with the 5-minute-per-mile pace. That’s not running, that’s flying. I don’t belong there!

I had to find my place at the back. Way, way at back of the line, with the more than 10-minute-per-mile pace.


Then I found this line. Oh, that’s not it too. That’s the line for the portable toilet!


Finally, it was time to start. The half-marathoners were given a head start, while we, 10K runners were released 30 minutes later.

There they go!


The first half of the course was a piece of cake. No, I am not gloating. It was due to the fact that it was mostly downhill. And of course, I took photos while I ran, so I can blog about it.

Here’s a photo of the course going downhill with some of Des Moines skyline in the distance.


Here’s one as we pass by a sculpture park.


But like the reverse of the law of gravity, what goes down, will go up.  So on the final half of the course, it was mostly uphill. That’s what took my breath away. Especially the dreaded and infamous “Bulldog Hill.”

The Bulldog Hill may have chased my breath away, but never my will.


We had plenty of cheerers along the way. We even had a marching band inspiring us to push forward on the steepest climb of the course.


After the hills, finally the stadium was in sight. I gave my final push.

When we enter the Bulldog Stadium, there was a crowd of people to witness as we finish. It does not matter if you were the first finisher or among the last, they cheer you on just the same.


I really like the feeling as I sprinted to the finish line in those lined tracks inside the stadium. For a time, I felt like a real runner. This maybe the closest feeling I can get to being an Olympian.

Maybe I can be famous too like a Kardashian? Naaah!


(*Bulldogs is the athletic team of Drake University)

(**all photos taken with an iPhone) 

Faster, Higher, Stronger…..Lesser

The London 2012 Summer Olympics is well underway. Like the 3-4 billion people around the world that watch it, I am enthused to follow these games.

People have different favorite events to watch, like swimming, gymnastics, track and field, cycling, basketball, soccer, or synchronised swimming. Synchronised swimming? Yes, that is a sport. And a popular event to watch too!

One of my favorite events of the summer games is beach volleyball where “Faster, Higher, Stronger and Lesser” is the olympic motto. Lesser? The players’ uniforms that is! It’s hard to deny the fact that some may be watching this sport just because of what the athletes are wearing.

Beach volleyball is a recent addition to the olympic games. It became an official event only in 1996 which was held in Atlanta. While most are waiting to see an amazing skillful play, or a great forceful spike, or an awesome diving save, some may be waiting for a disastrous wardrobe malfunction.

Kidding and ogling aside, I do like volleyball. I played volleyball in high school.  Of course I prefer basketball, but we had no choice at that time. The “higher” authorities in our academy deemed that basketball was the root of evil and the cause of many fights among students, so in an epic act, they sawed down our school’s basketball posts. I was a sophomore then. Thus, volleyball became the prescribed team sports in our high school. I learned that a few years after we graduated, they erected back the basketball goals.

Because I was lanky and almost a stick figure when I was in high school, my physique may be better fit for volleyball than the more rugged and full contact game of basketball. I learned to toss, spike, and dive for the ball. My more than 2 feet-vertical leap also came in handy in volleyball. I became skilled in the sports that I even made it to our school’s team that competed with other schools.

I have not played volleyball for many years, and I don’t know if I still have the skills. My vertical jump is probably reduced to 2 inches too! I am now just content in watching it.

When they showed the women’s beach volley game yesterday between the US and Czech Republic, it was at night and the temperature was a bit cold where the event was held. So instead of the usual bikini uniforms, the players wore something more. Much more. I know many were disappointed.

USA team

But I still watched and finished it. Just for the love of the game.

(*photo from here)