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2021 Wellmark Set the Pace Challenge winners announced

Officials from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Drake Relays presented by Xtream powered by Mediacom announced their 2021 Wellmark Set the Pace Challenge $10,000 award winners: Stanton, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The challenge encourages Iowans and South Dakotans to develop sustainable, healthy habits, highlighted by participation in the annual Grand Blue Mile.

Expanding trails in Stanton

“We are so thankful and excited to be the recipients of the Wellmark Set the Pace Challenge $10,000 award,” said Jenny Gettler, Stanton Trail Committee Chair. “We look forward to putting this award toward continuing our trail expansion project and creating a safe and fun way to promote healthy lifestyles in the Stanton community.

Stanton had the highest percentage of its residents participating in the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark — measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against the community’s total population.

“We had a record number of communities — more than 150 Iowa ZIP codes — represented this year as part of the Wellmark Set the Pace Challenge,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “Since this year’s event was fully virtual, we saw interest in the challenge spread far beyond greater Des Moines, to communities of all sizes. We’re heartened by the way Stanton and so many others rallied their residents to make a positive, long-lasting impact on the health of future generations.”

“The return of the Set the Pace Challenge was met with great excitement, as seen by the incredible number of communities that engaged in our virtual race,” said Blake Boldon, Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays. “It was great to see thousands of Iowans come together to run their very own Grand Blue Mile and we’re looking forward to setting a new record for community participation in 2022.”

Supporting parks & recreation in Sioux Falls

“Thank you to all the participants for representing Sioux Falls and to Wellmark for this opportunity to build upon our incredible park system,” said Don Kearney, Sioux Falls parks and recreation director. “We are proud and excited to use this award to bring even more benefits to our vibrant and active community.”

Sioux Falls had the highest percentage of its residents participating in the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark — measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against the community’s total population.

“Wellmark has always been passionate about improving the health and well-being of South Dakotans,” said Lori Clausen, president, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota. “That’s why the Grand Blue Mile was created, to encourage sustainable healthy habits and empower positive change. And the all-virtual format of this year’s event afforded us a unique opportunity to share the Grand Blue Mile experience with participants across South Dakota in a meaningful way.”

The 13th Annual Grand Blue Mile presented by Wellmark is scheduled for April 26, 2022.

Grand Blue Mile race week extended through April 30

As race packets continue to be delivered to virtual Grand Blue Mile participants in more than 30 states, we’ve noted some of our 1,800 registrants are still anxiously awaiting their packets. While you’re welcome to complete your mile at your convenience, even before your packet arrives — we know you’re excited to receive your event shirt, race bib and fun extras — we’re doing everything possible to expedite delivery with our mail service provider, USPS.

To allow participants even more time to receive their packets, complete their mile and submit their results, we’re extending the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile race week through April 30.

Please find additional information and answers to packet-related questions below.

When should I expect to receive my Grand Blue Mile packet?
If you registered on or before April 9 — the deadline to receive your packet during event week — your packet is on the way or may have already arrived! If you registered after April 9, your packet was shipped more recently or is currently being fulfilled. All 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile packets are being shipped and delivered via USPS.

How can I get updates on the status of my Grand Blue Mile packet?
With hundreds of virtual Grand Blue Mile packets being shipped concurrently, USPS may not have scanned each individual packet into their system prior to shipping, so you may see the status of your packet listed as “Pre-Shipment” or “Shipping label created — USPS awaiting item” when checking tracking information/history. Despite this status, we have confirmed USPS is in receipt of packets for pre-April 9 registrants and beginning to deliver as scheduled. Because of this, it’s likely your packet will be delivered before the shipping status is updated on USPS’ tracking site.

Can I participate in the virtual Grand Blue Mile before my packet arrives?
Yes! You can complete your mile whenever and however you choose, even before your packet arrives. Use the step-by-step instructions found in the Grand Blue Mile FAQ to submit your results to the virtual leaderboard at your convenience. This includes all communities currently participating in the Set the Pace Challenge.

Does the virtual Grand Blue Mile still end April 25?
No. While registration for the 2021 virtual Grand Blue Mile ends April 25, race week has been extended through April 30 to provide participants even more time to receive their packets, complete their mile and submit their results.

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.

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