Grand Blue Mile race officials announced preliminary fields for the 2019 USA Track & Field 1 Mile Road Championships set for Tuesday, April 23, in Des Moines. A world-class group of elite milers will headline the event along with approximately 3,500 participants from across the nation who will compete among the recreational and amateur competitive divisions.
“We’re excited to continue the tradition of welcoming high-profile, high-caliber athletes to Grand Blue Mile in partnership with the Drake Relays,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “As Grand Blue Mile marks its tenth anniversary, being entrusted to host a fifth national championship in 10 years provides even more reason to celebrate the tremendous impact this special event has throughout central Iowa and beyond.”
This year’s race features a top prize of $5,000 each for the men’s and women’s champions with the potential to earn an additional $2,500 for setting a new course record — currently 4.00.0 (2017) and 4:32.7 (2014), respectively. Overall, $30,000 in prize money will be contested across the men’s and women’s championship divisions.
In the men’s division, returning to defend his title is Riley Masters. He will be joined by:
- Harun Abda
- Julius Bor
- Mikey Brannigan
- Joe Coffey
- Jake Edwards
- David Elliott
- Nick Harris
- Daniel Herrera
- Tripp Hurt
- Lawi Lalang
- Brandon Lasater
- Will Leer
- Mile Marsella
- Kyle Medina
- Kyle Merber
- Chad Noelle
- Jay Welp
In the women’s division, returning to defend her title is Emily Lipari. She will be joined by Heather Kampf, three-time Grand Blue Mile champion, and:
- Grace Barnett
- Savannah Camacho-Colon
- Hannah Fields
- Therese Haiss
- Nikki Hiltz
- Marisa Howard
- Rebecca Mehra
- Shannon Osika
- Megan Rolland
- Ashley Stinson
- Maddie Van Beek
- Alexina Wilson
Additional entries to the Men’s and Women’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championships fields will be finalized next week.
Mascot Madness Charity Challenge returns
Iowa’s most popular mascots are back to compete against each other in the Mascot Madness Charity Challenge. Mascots will run the backstretch of the Grand Blue Mile race course in a friendly competition. The winning mascot from each division will be awarded a $1,000 prize for their school or organization’s charitable foundation.
Confirmed mascots in the “fast” division include:
- Viktor (Grandview University)
- Rosie the Reader (Des Moines Public Library)
- Wanda the Wallaby (Blank Park Zoo)
- Sam the Ram (Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired)
Confirmed mascots in the “furriest” division include:
- Champ (Iowa Games)
- TC (University of Northern Iowa)
- Cubbie Bear (Iowa Cubs)
- Spike (Drake University)
- Cy (Iowa State University)
- Herky (University of Iowa)
Youth and adult registration for the Grand Blue Mile is $20 and $25, respectively, with proceeds supporting school-based wellness programs in association with Iowa Kidstrong and the historic Drake Relays.
Grand Blue Mile (GBM) officials from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Drake Relays announced the USA Track & Field one-mile road championships will be returning in 2019 as part of the annual Grand Blue Mile. The addition of the prestigious USATF 1 Mile Road Championships elevates the elite-level competition of Grand Blue Mile and is expected to attract Olympians and world championship participants from across the country to vie for a national title and share of the $30,000 prize purse. GBM also hosted the 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018 USATF 1 Mile Road Championships.
“As Grand Blue Mile celebrates our tenth anniversary, we are honored and privileged to welcome back the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “Being entrusted to host a fifth national championship in 10 years provides even more reason to celebrate the tremendous impact this special event has throughout central Iowa and beyond.”
Early entrants for the 2019 USATF 1 Mile Road Championships at GBM include:
- Riley Masters – 2018 Men’s USATF 1 Mile Road Champion
- Mikey Brannigan – 1500 meter Paralympic gold medalist
- Emily Lipari – 2018 Women’s USATF 1 Mile Road Champion
- Heather Kampf – 2014, 2015 and 2016 Grand Blue Mile Champion
“Grand Blue Mile has gained notoriety and prestige with America’s most decorated milers,” said Blake Boldon, director of the Drake Relays. “Now marking the event’s tenth anniversary, we’re proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Wellmark to extend the Drake Relays experience to thousands of participants and spectators alike.”
In 2018, more than 40 track and field stars competed for the national title and share of the USA prize purse at GBM. Riley Masters won the men’s championship with a time of 4:03.12. The women’s championship was captured by Emily Lipari with a time of 4:32.87.
Set the Pace Challenge encourages communities to get moving
GBM officials also announced the continued partnership with the Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) for the return of the Set the Pace Challenge. This challenge encourages Iowans to develop sustainable, healthy habits throughout 2019 — starting with participating in GBM on April 23.
As part of the challenge, the community with the highest percentage of its residents participating in GBM — measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against its total population — will be awarded $10,000 to use on a project that promotes safe and accessible places in which to be active, such as a park, playground or trail.
“We are excited for another year of the Set the Pace Challenge,” said Jami Haberl, HSI executive director. “The award provides a great incentive for communities to rally together around. The benefits are two-fold: They’ll be participating in a fun, physical activity and making an effort to better their community.”
The 2018 Set the Pace challenge community winner, Lohrville, used their award to complete a trail. To watch the video and learn more about the project, click here.
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 GrandBlueMile.com.
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 grandbluemile.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 515-271-1957.
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.