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Registration for 10th Annual Grand Blue Mile opens to record demand

It took less than 48 hours from Feb. 12 – 13 for more than 2,300 runners, walkers and joggers from 16 states to register for the 2019 Grand Blue Mile, marking the event’s 10th anniversary.

“We’re incredibly humbled by the record-setting response we’ve received through the first phase of registration,” said Blake Boldon, Director of the Drake Relays. “It’s affirming and energizing to see thousands of participants from across the country recognize how special this event is and quickly move to reserve their place at the starting line.”

Charitable donations to Iowa Kidstrong — the nonprofit beneficiary of Grand Blue Mile — have also been pouring in to support the organization’s signature youth fitness programs. A combined $3,200 from hundreds of individual donors is already banked for 2019, pushing the total raised for Iowa Kidstrong to more than $70,000 over the life of the event.

“The historical generosity of our participants is well documented, and these additional donations only underscore that fact,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark Blue Cross® and Blue Shield®’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “Keeping the Grand Blue Mile affordable and accessible has enabled us to do tremendous good in the way of encouraging healthy habits for current and future generations of Iowans.”

Registration for the 10th Annual Grand Blue Mile continues through April 23 at

Registration for 10th Annual Grand Blue Mile opens with $10 flash sale

Registration for the 10th annual Grand Blue Mile on April 23 opened today with a $10, two-day flash sale. This deeply discounted price is available for all ages now through Feb. 13. Join thousands of runners and walkers in downtown Des Moines for America’s third largest one-mile race.

“Since its founding in 2010, Grand Blue Mile has had a tremendous impact on central Iowa communities,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark Blue Cross® and Blue Shield®’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “We’ve hosted approximately 34,000 participants of all fitness levels and encouraged Iowans to build healthy habits to empower positive change. Grand Blue Mile has also awarded nearly $70,000 to Iowa Kidstrong, an organization that promotes healthy and active lifestyles among central Iowa youth.”

Registration is now open at The $10 flash sales ends at 11:59 p.m., on Feb. 13, after which, regularly priced registration is $15 for youth and $20 for adults. As part of Wellmark’s commitment to improving the health of Iowans, all proceeds benefit Iowa Kidstrong school fitness programs and the historic Drake Relays.

“We’re excited to celebrate this important milestone in Grand Blue Mile history and look forward to seeing a record number of finishers in 2019,” said Blake Boldon, Director of the Drake Relays. “From the beginning of our partnership, Wellmark and the Drake Relays committed to making this event accessible to Iowans of all abilities and we’re proud to continue that tradition into our 10th running.”

Join the Relays Wellness Challenge

New for 2019 is the Relays Wellness Challenge. This is an employer-based team competition to promote a healthier Iowa. Points will be awarded based on participation in the Drake Road Races on April 20 and Grand Blue Mile. Participating companies will compete in three categories: small (5 to 50 full-time employees), medium (51 to 500 full-time employees), and large (more than 500 full-time employees).

Points will be awarded based on participation and completion of events. Employees of enrolled companies will also receive one point for volunteering at either event or at the Relays Health & Fitness packet pick-up expo on April 19. Finishers will receive: two points for the mile, two points for the 5K, three points for the 10K and four points for the half-marathon. The winning team in each division will be formally recognized in a Business Record advertisement celebrating the achievement and receive a traveling trophy for display.

To date, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Drake University, Des Moines University, EMC Insurance Companies, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Hy-Vee, Meredith Corporation, and YMCA of Greater Des Moines have all pledged to support the inaugural challenge, with many more employers primed to enroll in the coming weeks.

To enroll your organization at no cost, email or call 515-271-1957.

Registration for the 2019 Grand Blue Mile opens Feb. 12 with $10, two-day flash sale

Online registration for the 10th Annual Grand Blue Mile opens with a special two-day flash sale beginning Tuesday, Feb. 12. During the sale, participants can reserve their spot at the starting line for just $10 each — a 50% savings over regular registration. This significant discount is available for two days only, and includes all the benefits of race registration, including an event shirt and professional timing.

Lohrville wins Grand Blue Mile-Healthiest State Initiative ‘Set the Pace’ Challenge

The Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) and officials from Grand Blue Mile announced their 2018 Set the Pace challenge $10,000 award winner: Lohrville. The annual challenge encourages Iowans to develop sustainable, healthy habits, highlighted by participation in the Grand Blue Mile.

The $10,000 award will be used on a project that promotes safe and accessible places in which to be active, such as a park, playground or trail. Lohrville had the highest percentage of its residents participating in Grand Blue Mile — measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against the community’s total population.

“I am excited that our small community was able to set the pace with such a great response – this award gives a great opportunity to support our active population!” said Lohrville Mayor, Donny Hobbs. “Once the word spread that we had a chance to win the $10,000, the excitement grew. Thank you to Wellmark and Healthiest State Initiative for this award.”

In all, 35 communities — a 10 percent increase from 2017 — and thousands of individual participants accepted this year’s challenge. Event sponsor Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® finds that statistic especially heartening. “Grand Blue Mile continues to meet every participant exactly where they are in their individual wellness journey,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile official. “The record engagement we witnessed for the 2018 Set the Pace challenge provides the perfect platform to further strengthen our collective efforts to ensure a future of better health for all Iowans.”

“We’re excited to work with Lohrville as they identify a project to support physical activity in their community,” said Jami Haberl, HSI Executive Director. “We encourage all Iowans to follow Lohrville’s path to invest in the health of their community. That includes doing their part to make “5-2-1-0” healthy choices: 5 of more fruits and vegetables a day, 2 hours or less screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks – drink more water.”

Grand Blue Mile announces 2018 USATF 1 Mile Road Championships results

More than 3,500 runners took part in the 9th Annual Grand Blue Mile on April 24 in Downtown Des Moines’ Western Gateway. This year’s event included the prestigious Men’s & Women’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championships along with the Grand Blue Mile’s recreational and competitive divisions and the Mascot Madness Charity Challenge.

Spectators also witnessed 96-year-old Mike Fremont set the American road mile record. His time was 13:55.82. He will now attempt to break the World Record for the 95-plus age category in the men’s masters 800 meters at the 109th Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee on Friday, April 27, at approximately 10:21 a.m. The current record, 6:02.94, was set by Herb Kirk in 1991.

USATF 1 Mile Road Championships
More than 40 elite milers from across the country traveled to Des Moines to vie for a national title and a share of the championship prize purse.

  • 2018 Men’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championship
    Riley Masters finished on top out of the 20 men’s competitors, with a time of 4:03.12. Eric Avila and Nick Harris finished in second and third place, in 4:03.90 and 4:04.31, respectively.
  • 2018 Women’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championship
    Emily Lipari finished first in the group of 15 professional milers, with a time of 4:32.87. Brenda Martinez and Rachel Schneider finished in second and third place, in 4:33.07 and 4:33.77, respectively.

A total of $30,000 in prize money was up for grabs among the top USATF 1 Mile Road Championship participants, with each men’s and women’s champion receiving $5,000*. The prize breakdown:

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
$5,000 $2,500 $1,500 $1,250 $1,000 $500 $300 $200 $150 $100

* An additional $2,500 is awarded in both the men’s and women’s championships for establishing a new course record.

Mascot Madness Charity Challenge
Maniac with the Des Moines Menace and Cy from Iowa State University were the winners of the annual Mascot Madness Charity Challenge and each took home the $1,000 prize for their charitable foundation. The Maniac edged out Billy with Iowa Barnstormers and Viktor with Grandview University in the “fastest” division who finished second and third place, respectively. Cy bested Spike from Drake University and Herky from the University of Iowa in the “furriest” division who finished second and third, respectively.

The 10th Annual Grand Blue Mile is scheduled to take place on April 23, 2019.


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