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Grand Blue Mile to Host USATF 1-Mile Road Championships

Once again, Des Moines will host the USA Track & Field (USATF) 1-Mile Road Championships presented by Toyota, with some of the world’s most elite runners competing for a national title and prize money of $15,000. This year’s USATF 1-Mile Road Championships will be held on Wednesday, April 21, in conjunction with the 111th Drake Relays presented by Xtream powered by Mediacom and the virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield®.

“While it’s not every day that the world’s best athletes come to town, we are proud that this championship will be held in Des Moines for the fifth consecutive year,” said Blake Boldon, the Franklin ‘Pitch’ Johnson Director of the Drake Relays. “The USATF 1-Mile Road Championships are truly a premier event, and we are fortunate to again serve as host. With the Summer Olympics on the horizon, these athletes are in peak condition and will be more motivated than ever to compete at the highest level.”

Des Moines is the host city for the USATF 1-Mile Road Championships through at least 2023. Last year’s event took place on August 29, 2020, during the Blue Oval Showcase at Drake University. The Blue Oval Showcase was the first major track and field event contested in the United States since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic; the invitation-only competition was closed to the general public and held under strict health and safety protocols. Sam Prakel won the men’s road mile with a time of 3:58.30, the second-fastest time in the event’s history; Emily Lapari won the women’s division, finishing in 4:29.30, the fastest road mile ever run by a woman in the state of Iowa.  In preparation for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in June, both Prakel and Lapari will defend their USATF 1-Mile titles on the Blue Oval.  Both Sam and Emily plan to stay in Des Moines for the 1500 meters at the Drake Relays presented by Xtream on Saturday, April 24.

This year’s USATF 1-Mile Road Championships will start on the campus of Drake University, at Painted Street, and will finish on the Blue Oval inside Drake Stadium. This invitation-only event will be a companion to the virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark; professional milers will compete at Drake while amateur runners from Des Moines and across the nation will complete a one-mile run or walk on their own.

“Staying active and well has never been more important, and so we are especially excited to have elite runners personifying healthy habits as part of this year’s virtual Grand Blue Mile,” said Chris Verlengia, senior brand marketing manager for Wellmark and co-race director of the Grand Blue Mile. “We encourage everyone to be part of this historic event. Participants of all ages and abilities can complete the mile when, where and how they choose.”

Registration for the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark is now open at For just $10 each, participants receive a 2021 Grand Blue Mile event shirt and race bib shipped directly to their door.