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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 grandbluemile.com. For just $10 each, participants receive a 2021 Grand Blue Mile event shirt and race bib shipped directly to their door.

Wellmark Set the Pace Challenge returns in 2021

Officials from Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® announced the return of the Wellmark Set the Pace Challenge. The challenge encourages Iowans and South Dakotans to develop sustainable, healthy habits throughout 2021 — starting with participating in the virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark that runs April 17 through 25.

As part of the challenge, one community in Iowa and one community in South Dakota with the highest percentage of its residents participating in the virtual Grand Blue Mile — 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, inclusive and accessible places in which to be active, such as a park, playground or trail.

“At a time when improving our personal and collective well-being is so important, we’re hopeful the return of this challenge can serve as a springboard for Iowans and South Dakotans to prioritize their fitness,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “Wellmark is passionate about promoting community health and this award provides a great incentive for residents to rally around in making a positive difference for Iowa and South Dakota. The benefits are two-fold: participants will be engaging in a fun, physical activity, all while making a concerted effort to better their communities.”

Previous Iowa winners of Wellmark’s Set the Pace Challenge include Urbandale, Lohrville and Odebolt. These communities successfully rallied their residents to take the top prize — each investing the award in projects that improved their built environment and encouraged physical activity. Additional information and resources, including past project videos and a digital toolkit for communities are available here.

Register today

Registration for the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark is now open. For just $10 each, participants receive a 2021 Grand Blue Mile event shirt and race bib shipped directly to their door. As part of Wellmark’s commitment to improving the health of our next generation, all proceeds benefit Iowa Kidstrong youth fitness programs and support student participation in the annual Drake Relays.

Registration for the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile now open

Registration begins today for the 2021 Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield®. Officials from Wellmark and the Drake Relays announced this year’s event will be held virtually from April 17–25 to coincide with the 111th Drake Relays presented by Xtream powered by Mediacom®.

“Just as we have each year over the past decade, we’re excited to celebrate another Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark — but in a modified, virtual format that ensures the safety and well-being of all participants,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “This special event has always been about encouraging Iowans to get moving and embrace simple, healthy habits and Wellmark remains committed to that goal, now more than ever. In fact, we’re identifying opportunities to engage participants and communities far beyond the metro with an aim to reach as many Iowans as possible, and we’re looking forward to sharing more about those efforts soon.”

“From the beginning of our partnership, Wellmark and the Drake Relays presented by Xtream resolved to make this event accessible to all ages and abilities,” said Blake Boldon, Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays. “We’ve held fast to that promise and this year, as the event goes virtual, we’re uniquely positioned to provide the Grand Blue Mile experience to an even larger audience. While the race is virtual, the running is real. Our mantra for 2021 is ‘Your Race. Your Pace. Your Place’ — that will prove especially true for our participants across the nation, including America’s best athletes, fitness enthusiasts, walkers and families alike.”

Registration for the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark is now open at grandbluemile.com. For just $10 each, participants receive a 2021 Grand Blue Mile event shirt and race bib shipped directly to their door. As part of Wellmark’s commitment to improving the health of Iowans, all proceeds benefit Iowa Kidstrong youth fitness programs and support student participation in the annual Drake Relays.

2020 Grand Blue Mile goes virtual

To ensure the health and well-being of all participants, officials from the Drake Relays announced the move to an all-virtual Grand Blue Mile for 2020. The news follows the postponement of the in-person event earlier this year.

The virtual event kicks off Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 7. All previously registered participants will receive an email confirming the status of their registration and outlining the multiple options available to them as part of the format change.

​​​​​​​Additional information, including a comprehensive FAQ, is available at GrandBlueMile.com.

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