Registration for the 11th annual Grand Blue Mile on April 21 opens Feb. 11 with a $10, two-day flash sale, officials from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Drake Relays jointly announced. This deeply discounted price is available for all ages through Feb. 12. Join thousands of runners, joggers and walkers in downtown Des Moines for America’s second-largest one-mile community race.
“Since its inception, Grand Blue Mile has had a tremendous and demonstrable impact on the health of our communities,” said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark’s senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. “The event has encouraged more than 40,000 Iowans to get moving and embrace simple, healthy habits, because it serves as a springboard for families, friends and neighbors to come together, set a goal and share the thrill of crossing their own finish line.”
“Grand Blue Mile enters its 11th year positioned as the second-largest community road mile race in the nation,” 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. We’ve held fast to that promise and look forward to hosting a record number of finishers again in 2020.”
The $10 flash sales ends promptly at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 12, 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.
Grand Blue Mile to reduce carbon footprint
New this year, Wellmark and the Drake Relays are working together to emphasize sustainability and reduce the event’s environmental impact. Grand Blue Mile is seeking to become the first event in Iowa to be certified by the Council for Responsible Sport (CRS) — the international authority for environmentally conscious participatory and spectator sports. CRS-certified events, including the NCAA Final Four, MLB All-Star Game and USATF Olympic Track & Field Trials, among others, are some of the world’s foremost examples of responsible sport in action.
“As part of the certification process, we’re working diligently to assess all aspects of Grand Blue Mile and identify opportunities for improvement,” said Boldon. “Going forward, participants can expect to see a reduction in single-use plastics and printed materials, with an eye toward water conservation as well. These simple measures, combined with additional new and innovative ideas, will result in an even better Grand Blue Mile experience for all our participants.”
“Wellmark has a proud history of being a good steward of our natural resources,” said Verlengia. “Having served the state for more than 80 years, we recognize our responsibility to think sustainably and embrace the opportunity to shape the next decade of Grand Blue Mile through this certification. We’re excited to create a benchmark for reporting our performance improvements year over year, and hope this effort creates a model for other events to aspire to as we aim to raise our collective consciousness.”
More than 4,000 runners took part in the 10th Annual Grand Blue Mile on April 23 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 30 elite milers from across the country traveled to Des Moines to vie for a national title and a share of the championship prize purse.
- 2019 Men’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championship
Tripp Hurt finished on top in the men’s championship, with a time of 4:04.21. Brandon Lasater and Nick Harris finished in second and third place, in 4:04.42 and 4:04.44, respectively.
- 2019 Women’s USATF 1 Mile Road Championship
Nikki Hiltz set a new course record with a time of 4:30.09. Heather Kampf and Hannah Fields finished in second and third place, in 4:31.95 and 4:32.61, respectively.
A total of $30,000 in prize money was up for grabs in the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships, with each men’s and women’s champion receiving $5,000*. The prize breakdown:
* An additional $2,500 is awarded in both the men’s and women’s championships for establishing a new course record.
Mascot Madness Charity Challenge
Spike with Drake University and Maniac from the Des Moines Menace were the winners of the annual Mascot Madness Charity Challenge and each took home the $1,000 prize for their charitable foundation. Spike edged out Herky with the University of Iowa and Cy with Iowa State University in the “furriest” division who finished second and third place, respectively. Maniac bested Viktor from Grand View University and Alpha from the Iowa Wolves in the “fast” division who finished second and third, respectively.
The 11th Annual Grand Blue Mile is scheduled to take place on April 21, 2020.
Complete race results from this and previous Grand Blue Mile events are posted at: grandbluemile.com/results.
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.