The Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) and officials from Grand Blue Mile (GBM) are partnering to encourage Iowa communities to “Set the Pace” again in 2018. The Set the Pace challenge encourages Iowans to develop sustainable, healthy habits throughout 2018 — starting with participating in GBM, the popular one-mile walk/run through Downtown Des Moines on April 24.
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.
“Bringing the Set the Pace challenge back to the 2018 GBM was an easy decision after seeing the inspiring amount of community participation last year,” said GBM Director Chris Verlengia. “Promoting community health is something we’re very passionate about, and we’re eager to partner with HSI again to continue that commitment.”
The 2017 Set the Pace challenge winner, Urbandale, used their award to add new trail enhancements, including a play pod to Walnut Creek Regional Park.
“Receiving this award was such an honor to the City, and we’re proud of all the Urbandale residents who participated in the challenge,” said Jan Herke, Urbandale parks and recreation director. “We’re very grateful this partnership has helped us fund a project that will continue to benefit our community for years to come.”
To watch a video and learn more about the project, click here.
“We are excited for another year of the Set the Pace Challenge,” said Jami Haberl, HSI executive director. “The Grand Blue Mile has something for everyone, and we’re encouraging all Iowans to follow Urbandale’s example and move more by engaging in 150 minutes of moderate activity a week.”
Youth and adult registration for the Grand Blue Mile is now open, with all proceeds supporting school-based wellness programs in association with Iowa Kidstrong and the historic Drake Relays.
Be part of the 109th Drake Relays by joining the thousands of runners and walkers in downtown Des Moines for the Midwest’s premier one-mile race.
“Grand Blue Mile was created to encourage sustainable healthy habits and empower positive change,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s senior brand marketing manager. “The mile is an attainable goal for Iowans at all fitness levels. Whether participants walk, run or jog, the important thing is they are getting up and being active, which is an excellent start to improving the overall health of our state.”
Returning to the Grand Blue Mile is the USA Track & Field Men’s and Women’s 1 Mile Road Championships. The addition of these prestigious events is expected to attract several Olympians and numerous elite athletes from across the country to vie for a national title and their share of the $30,000 prize purse. The Grand Blue Mile also hosted the 2013, 2014 and 2017 USATF 1 Mile Road Championships.
“Now in its ninth year, the Grand Blue Mile’s national profile continues to grow and attract America’s most decorated milers,” said Blake Boldon, Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays. “The entire Drake athletics department is proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Wellmark to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to central Iowans.”
Also back by popular demand is the Mascot Madness Charity Challenge — pitting Iowa’s most beloved mascots against each other in a friendly competition as they sprint to Grand Blue Mile glory. Divided into two divisions — the fast and the furriest — the winning mascots will be awarded a $1,000 prize each for their school/organization’s charitable foundation.
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.
Online registration for the 9th Annual Grand Blue Mile opens with a special two-day flash sale beginning Tuesday, Feb. 6. 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 a technical running shirt and professional timing.
The Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) and officials from Grand Blue Mile announced their Set the Pace challenge $10,000 award winner: Urbandale. The challenge encouraged Iowans to develop sustainable, healthy habits throughout 2017, starting with participating in this year’s Grand Blue Mile.
Urbandale 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. 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.
“We are very excited to receive this award,” said Jan Herke, Urbandale Parks and Recreation director. “We look forward to working with the Healthiest State Initiative and Grand Blue Mile officials on selecting a project that will benefit our community for years to come.”
In all, more than 25 communities and thousands of individual participants accepted the challenge — a statistic event-sponsor Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield finds especially heartening. “Grand Blue Mile has always been unique in that it meets every participant exactly where they are in their individual wellness journey,” said Wellmark Sponsorship Manager Chris Verlengia. “The record engagement we witnessed for the 2017 Grand Blue Mile provides the perfect platform to further strengthen our collective efforts to ensure a future of better health for all Iowans.”
HSI Executive Director Jami Haberl wants to keep the momentum going. “We’re excited to work with Urbandale as they determine which project will have a long-lasting impact in their community and look forward to replicating their success across the state,” said Haberl. “We’re encouraging all Iowans to follow Urbandale’s example and move more by engaging in 30 minutes of moderate activity a day.”
More than 2,500 runners took part in the 8th Annual Grand Blue Mile on April 25 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.
USATF 1 Mile Road Championships
More than 35 elite milers from across the country traveled to Des Moines to vie for a national title and a share of the championship prize purse. A total of $27,500 was awarded among the top USATF 1 Mile Road Championship participants, with each men’s and women’s champion receiving $5,000.
2017 Men’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championship
Clayton Murphy finished on top out of the 19 men’s competitors, setting a new record with a finish time of 3:59.96 en route to a $2,500 bonus for his sub-4-minute run. Riley Masters and Pat Casey finished in second and third place, with 4:00.30 and 4:00.88 respective finish times.
2017 Women’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championship
Katie Mackey finished first in the group of 16 women runners, with a finish time of 4:37.00. Amanda Eccleston and Shannon Rowbury finished in second and third place, with 4:37.36 and 4:37.54 respective finish times.
Mascot Madness Charity Challenge
The Maniac from the Des Moines Menace and Herky from the University of Iowa were the winners of the annual Mascot Madness Charity Challenge and each took home a $1,000 prize for their charitable foundation. The Maniac edged out Billy Barnstormer and Rosie Reader with the Des Moines Public Library in the “fastest” division who finished second and third place, respectively. Herky bested Cy from Iowa State University and TC with the University of Northern Iowa in the “furriest” division who finished second and third, respectively.
The 9th Annual Grand Blue Mile is scheduled for April 24, in conjunction with the 2018 Men’s and Women’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championships.
Additional results from the 8th Annual Grand Blue Mile are available at OnlineRaceResults.com.