A New Way to Mini

As we continue to celebrate the Month of May in a new way, many of our 500 Festival staff members and interns have gotten into the spirit by participating in the virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. The 500 Festival team has been running and walking right alongside all of our incredible Indy Mini participants from all across the state! Check out some of their Indy Mini stories below: 

Adrianne, Program & Event Manager 

I hiked (read: walked) my Indy Mini on May 2. I had the date down as the Mini anyway and it felt right to do the Mini on the first Saturday of May. My mom, Anita Johnson, joined me for the race. She had signed up for this year’s race and deferred to 2021, but she was tempted with our celebration ice cream. I am SO PROUD of her for pushing through! We ventured to Bloomington and did our race on the Pate Hollow Trail that is part of Hoosier National Forest and just up the road from Paynetown SRA. We did one full lap, then cut across for a half lap and one lap around the parking lot to reach our 13.1-mile goal!   

My Indy Mini experience both hard and relaxing at the same time. I knew if I was going to do this, I didn’t want to do it in a city. I needed a nature fix in the midst of stay-at-home. We were exhausted to be honest. We didn’t feel celebratory until we got to Bruster’s Ice Cream for our finish line treat.  

I have only experienced one Indy Mini as a staff member, but I can say it is almost nothing like being a participant. I share the excitement of kicking off the race, but from day two of the Mini Marathon Expo through the end of Post-Race Party, we are up just about 34 of 36 hours (roughly) so it all blurs together. There’s a lot of adrenalin, smiles, and congratulating. I am always so excited for all of the participants! 

This was my fourth Indy Mini in five years. The other three years I walked the race as a volunteer. I always take ibuprofen a half hour before I start my race. Grapes make for a great, healthy energy boost. Listen to your body. It’s okay to slow your pace, you know you’re going to win this year! 

Maggie, Digital Marketing Manager 

I completed my virtual Indy Mini in downtown Indianapolis. I started along the canal but it started to fill with more people (shout out to a positive of a virtual race- you can sleep in and complete it when you’re ready!). To be able to still complete my race safely and adhere to social distancing practices, I moved through IUPUI’s campus and past Eskenazi and Riley Hospitals. While traveling through downtown, it was encouraging to notice others completing their virtual races from afar. It definitely motivated to push through, especially running the last 45 minutes alone! 

My “finish line” was the parking lot of my apartment building but I was still ecstatic to get there. In-person races provide such an encouraging and motivational atmosphere that I really had to dig deep to keep going. When I ran past Riley, I gave a wave to the building because my sister works there. Each bib, 500 Festival apparel, or checkered flag I saw made me so excited and pushed me further. It’s very mental running alone but am so proud of all of our participants for rising up to the challenge. 

As a staff member, you get to witness all of the excitement and motivation of race participants. It was definitely weird not spending the days leading up to the first weekend in May at the Expo or starting bright and early in Military Park race morning. Being able to complete the virtual Indy Mini was still special, and it was important to join our community in this challenge. Seeing everyone completing their race and encourage others on social media has been just as great as seeing those faces cross the finish line. Knowing how hard our team worked to make the virtual experience feel as much like a race for our participants then seeing them use those resources was very rewarding. 

To recreate the Indy Mini experience, I participated in all of the Expo “virtual’ yoga sessions with YogaSix and the Hot Room, which I highly recommend everyone do before a long run! I customized and printed my own Indy Mini bib as well. My niece and nephews created signs to cheer me on, which my sister texted to me. My niece has JDM so they weren’t able to support in-person but the message from my sister was just as motivating! I used the Indy Mini finish line PNG Alexa, our graphic designer, created, so I had an “official” finish line photo after I got some water and changed shoes. Later, I recreated runners’ services equipped with a 500 Festival Volunteer, my dog Ellie, where I picked up my banana, Clif bar, and chocolate milk. 

Post-race, I couldn’t put my work phone down, I was just so inspired by all of the participants sharing their race with us on social media! Afterward, I made Pad Thai as my celebratory meal. Highly recommend. 

To other virtual Indy Mini participants, don’t give up. I know it’s cliché and easy advice, but it really is mental. You might not have a crowd cheering you on or a band playing to push you through mile 12 but you just need to shut your brain off and get it done. Also, have fun with it! A virtual race doesn’t have to be about getting a PR. Take in your route and get creative recreating Indy Mini elements for your race. 

Bob, CEO:

I ran my virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K in my neighborhood in Carmel on May 2, my wife Brandee had been training for her first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and ran her virtual Indy Mini through our neighborhood on May 9 (in 2 hr. 10 min.!)

I loved running in the USS Indiana 5k shirt, a race we helped organize around the commissioning ceremony for the submarine in 2018. Brandee enjoyed my biking around to set up pit stations and our boys enjoyed setting up the runner services area and chalk brickyard finish line.

I wanted to run on the original Mini day. It was symbolic and bitter sweet to be able to run on a day we have always been hard at work. I really missed not having that in a normal cadence and got excited about getting back on the calendar for next year.

For me, my virtual 5K was just some time on my own after lots of calls and in-home time. Lots of reflection. For Brandee, she had been training for months and had some anxiety about running on her own but really nailed it. We had pit stations set up for her, neighborhood friends came out to cheer her on and the boys decorated signs, balloons and finish line. It was a big ‘event’ for the whole family.

To celebrate my virtual 5K, I sat on the deck and took some time to continue the decompression and reflection with water and a banana. For Brandee taking on the Indy Mini, she did some stretching, an Epsom salt batch and some well-earned couch time for the rest of the weekend.

For all virtual Indy Mini participants, make it an event, involve friends and family.  You’d be surprised how much fun others will have with the experience as they support you.

Sabrina, VP Marketing and Communications 

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and completed our virtual race on Saturday, May 2 at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. We had a great time! It was so much fun seeing other virtual participants wearing their custom bibs and custom shirts at Fort Ben! 

It was a little strange and bittersweet participating on what would have been Indy Mini Saturday, but we made the best of it. The last time my husband and I completed the #IndyMini was 6 years ago (I’ve been on the 500 Festival staff every May since). It was fun to participate with my husband once again but I definitely missed working at my normal #IndyMini race day spot at the finish line greeting all of our awesome participants! It made me even more excited for the 2021 race! 

The biggest enhancement was having my 3-year-old son participate with us! Since we participated virtually, we were able to put him in his tricycle and he rode along with us (and we could push him when he got tired). We even celebrated with another virtual 5K the next day! We had such a great time on Saturday, May 2 we decided to do another 5K on the Monon the next day for round 2! 

To virtual Indy Mini participants, use this year’s virtual race to customize your experience. This is your chance to include others that might not typically be able to participate with you. For us, that meant getting to include our 3-year-old into our race since he could ride along in his stroller or trike (these items aren’t allowed at the in-person Indy Mini event for the safety of others).   

Helen, Marketing Coordinator:  

I was originally planning to complete my Indy Mini on the third weekend in May. When May 2 came around the corner, I was so encouraged and motivated from seeing all the participants complete their race that day that I ended up taking on my race on May 2! My route was a huge lap around Geist Reservoir in Fishers, Indiana, which wove through various neighborhoods and nature trails. 

I loved the virtual race experience! My friends and family surprised me by cheering me along my route. It gave me so much motivation to keep going and stay with my pace. I started struggling more towards the end of my race, so crossing the finish line was so rewarding! 

There is so much preparation and a lot of late night / early morning set-ups that go into the production of the Indy Mini. Being able to watch thousands of participants cross the finish line and celebrate their hard work with their loved ones and supporters is so rewarding as a staff member. On the other hand, I have found that there is so much hard work and dedication that participants put into their training schedules! It makes completing the Indy Mini a whole new rewarding experience being a participant. 

My family knew I was heading out to run my virtual race and halfway through my run, I received a photo of a decorated finish line where the end of my race would be. Some family and friends also had a water station for me about halfway through the race, and it was a life saver. It was such a fun surprise to have friends and family join in and help cheer me on! The Virtual Indy Mini Facebook group served as a wonderful support system as well.   

I celebrated my race by drinking a lot of water and taking a nice long nap! My advice for other virtual Indy Mini participants is to have your friends and family get involved either by participating alongside or providing a water stop along the way. It will help you feel motivated and supported on your race.    

Ryan, Event & Program Intern: 

I ran my race through my hometown of Zionsville, IN. I was able to create a nice route that went all through the downtown area. My first Indy Mini was a lot of fun. Obviously was a bit different of a “Indy Mini experience” than I had expected. It was still a lot of fun to be able to complete my first Mini-Marathon. To try and recreate the in-person race experience, I listened to some music during my race. That way I could at least try to recreate the course entertainment! 

It is well worth all of the training to reach the finish line! Stay positive and keep reaching for your goals. 

Claire, Program & Event Coordinator:  

I will be completing my 13.1 miles in Columbus, IN on Sunday, May 24. I am looking forward to accomplishing my goal of completing a half-marathon! I set this goal last summer (smile) My friends and I bought matching outfits for the race and our family and friends are going to set up a few water stations along the course for us! Of course, I am buying 6 pack of Michelob ULTRA’s to celebrate at the finish line! Our parents are going to throw us a little post-race party at the end! 

Cole, Registration, Ticketing, & Customer Service Coordinator:  

I plan on completing the Mini June 6th in Fenton, MO. I am super excited to cross the finish line knowing that I conquered my first 13.1. I plan on setting up pit stations in locations I will be running and drawing the finish line! I will have my own runner services with bananas, cookies, and milk just like the iconic OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. 

Pat, VP Strategic Partnerships:  

I walked my Indy Mini on May 22 in downtown Indy. It was a 500 Festival events tribute with a route downtown that included the OneAmerica Mini-Marathon course and start/finish lines, Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ day, IPL 500 Festival Parade, 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, 500 Festival Miler series, presented by OrthoIndy, 500 Festival Off The Grid, presented by KeyBank, and the 500 Festival office! I was excited to do my first Indy Mini and see downtown…. I missed it! We recreated the Mini-Marathon experience with the pieces of walking the actual start/finish and we had mini USA and checkered flags that we carried with us. We celebrated with American Dairy Chocolate Milk and then a Michelob ULTRA after. 

Jen Lowe, Senior Vice President of Administration

Since we couldn’t be at the IPL 500 Festival parade on the beautiful morning of May 23, we decided to complete our virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K  Bibs customized and put on and a quick picture in front of the checkered flags and we were ready to go!  It wasn’t a fitness walk as we couldn’t go without Charlie, so we had a nice, long one hour and nine minute 5K.

Sticking to Tradition

For Nicole, both the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Indianapolis 500 are more than just races, they’re tradition. While the physical traditions had to change this month, Nicole found ways to keep the spirit and memories alive with a creative take on her virtual Indy Mini. Read her story below and share yours with us on social media using #IndyMini!

My love for the Indy 500 race and my love for running come together for one awesome event the first weekend in May every year: The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Every year, except this year.

I grew up in Indy. The Indy 500 has been a part of my life since I was old enough to go the track in a stroller with my parents.  I grew up going to the Indy 500, qualifications, and practices with my dad and siblings.  A.J. Foyt was a household name in my family growing up.  Checkered flags decorated my home in the month of May and listening to “Bump Day” on the old AM radio is a vivid memory.   

As I grew up, the 500 continued to be a part of my life and I decided to run the Indy Mini for the first time when I was in high school.  I knew I wanted to run on the nostalgic Indy 500 race track and touch the famous brick starting line.  I loved it, but life got in the way and I didn’t run it again until after I was married with two children.  Since then, the Indy Mini has been a staple in my life.   At age 11, my daughter ran the whole 13.1 miles with me.  Over the past several years I have had many close friends join me for the run.  Some years I like to take it all in by myself and be nostalgic and sentimental with every mile.  

My passion for the 500 and love for the Speedway racetrack keeps me coming back year after year to see my running shoes pass over the famous Yard of Bricks or to stop and give them a quick kiss.  When I’m running on the track, I glance up into the empty stands and I remember the good times with my dad as a child, his patience with me when I was begging to wait for another autograph, the hot days watching the pit crews and pit action, races sitting under an umbrella waiting for the rain to stop so the track can dry and the race can begin, teenage years in Gasoline Alley (where my parents told me not to go), and now the place where I sit with my aging dad and young son.  Throughout my life I have tried to pass the love of the 500 onto all of my children, but only my son took the bait.  He has joined my dad and me to the race ever since he was five years old.  This year will be his 12th consecutive race with my dad and me.  

The in-person Indy Mini was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  I knew there were worse things happening in the world, but for me, the cancelling of this historic event was extremely disappointing.  I knew I wouldn’t break my tradition of running it every year but I didn’t want to just run more miles by myself.  I had just completed my virtual Boston Marathon and just felt like running another 13.1 virtually was anticlimactic for me.  I’m used to feeling so many emotions during this race, that I wanted to make it a special event.   I needed to feel something again.  

I asked more than 13 special people in my life to each run a mile with me and luckily, exactly 13 said, “Yes.”  Perfect.  

 

I ran one-mile laps in my neighborhood and picked up (and dropped off) a new loved one with each mile.  With quarantine, I have been missing my running buddies greatly and it felt amazing to run with them again and get individual time with each of them.  It was also special for me to get my family members out with me because they usually won’t run with me.  My father, who taught me to love the 500, was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and it has been a very rough year with his struggles.   He did part of mile 13 with me.  My mom has kept up with his health issues and has been a true champion.  She did mile 12.   It was so wonderful and emotional to see each new person with every mile.   It was the easiest race I’ve ever done because my family and friends were with me.  Instead of looking up into the huge Speedway stands this year, I had a little cheering section of my children, niece and nephew, husband, and my parents on my front lawn.   It wasn’t my traditional Indy Mini that I crave every year, but it was a new special race for me, which is exactly what I wanted and needed. 

That May Feeling

The Month of May in Indianapolis is like no other. To Beth Boles, the Month of May is everything. A racing fan at heart, Beth has never missed a day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, attending 52 Indy 500 races. She is also a 500 Festival Princess Program Alumna, mother of IndyCar driver Conor Daly, and wife of IMS President Doug Boles. Needless to say, May holds a special place in the heart of the Boles family.  

To celebrate her favorite time of year, Beth also has a special love for 500 Festival events. In fact, she has participated in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon for over 7 years! Year after year, Beth eagerly anticipates the thrilling atmosphere of the Indy Mini to kick off the Month of May celebrations in Indianapolis. She and her niece, who travels from St. Louis, typically get in the racing spirit by wearing matching checkered flag tutus as they conquer 13.1 miles. However, Beth’s Indy Mini looked slightly different this year. With the move to the virtual race, Beth was still determined to keep the tradition of taking on her 13.1 miles during the Month of May. Despite missing the atmosphere of the in-person event, Beth had perhaps one of her best Indy Minis yet. She found that she was able to train more, given the free time she has now been allotted. As a race fan, as well as a high school girl’s lacrosse coach, Beth’s spring schedule is typically jam-packed. However, with cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her schedule has significantly reduced. Beth has been grateful for the time to get outside and be active, which she says is beneficial for her mental and physical health. Beth even had the unique opportunity to train with a few laps around IMS when her husband Doug went to the track.  

On a sunny Saturday in May, Beth set out to take on her virtual Indy Mini. Doug had planned to run alongside Beth, however, he is now planning on conquering his virtual Indy Mini at a later date. To her surprise, Beth completed her virtual Indy Mini in one of her best times yet. She celebrated her victory by taking photos, enjoying her traditional post-race bagel, and going to Starbucks with her son for a green tea matcha. However, to Beth, nothing compares to that May feeling. She believes there is nothing greater than the atmosphere of the Indy Mini. From the people, to the entertainment, to the volunteers, the thrill and excitement of the Indy Mini is incomparable. Beth and her family also love participating in the IPL 500 Festival Parade each year.  

August cannot come soon enough for the Boles family. In the future, the Month of May feeling will never again be taken for granted. Beth believes race fans will come together again, and when they do, they will appreciate the sport more than ever. Race fans will celebrate together in the freedom to get out to the track and enjoy each other’s company, the live events, and all of the festivities that make the Month of May what is it.  

Jamicka Edwards

Prior to 2015, Jamicka Edwards did not consider herself a runner. She thought the word “marathon” was crazy. Fast forward to today, Jamicka has now completed a whopping 25 half marathons and has even conquered 4 full marathons. Though they were not always easy, she never ceased to push herself and have a blast while doing so.  

On her 40th birthday in 2019, Jamicka ran the first of the 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy. She was so impressed by the organization of the race and the overall participant experience, that she decided to take on the full 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K, and the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.  

Having just recently moved to the Indianapolis area, Jamicka began learning the city and its different parts through the lens of a runner. She also began to see familiar faces at each race, and made several good friends throughout the Miler Series. As a participant, Jamicka was thrilled with the hospitality, courses, and more of each race. When May arrived, despite the rain, Jamicka conquered her 16.2 miles. She thought to herself, “I’ll do this race again one day,” so when the opportunity was presented to represent the race as a 2020 Indy Mini Ambassador, Jamicka couldn’t resist. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 500 Festival 10-Miler, presented by OrthoIndy, the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K, and the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon were moved to virtual races. In April, the virtual 10 Miler was a “wake-up call” for Jamicka. She hadn’t been running as much as she did in 2019, and she was disappointed with her results. She was so proud, however, that she did not allow herself to quit. Though it was a tough race, she kept smiling and reminded herself of the smiles of the other virtual participants running with her from all over the world.  

The day Jamicka completed her Virtual One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon was completely spontaneous and unplanned. She woke up to a text from her a friend in another state saying he completed 9 miles, with Jamicka motivating him. This gave Jamicka a whirlwind of confidence and that was the moment she decided she would conquer her 13.1 miles that day. Her Indy Mini took place on the Monon trail, given the paved and mostly flat route. Halfway through, at mile 7, she called her oldest son to give him an update and to hear some words of encouragement. She began to feel a little pain but prayed and pushed through. She walked when she needed and ran when she had the energy to. As the sun began to set, she began to approach her car but her energy was depleting. Jamicka received an encouraging text from her son, which pushed her even harder. She crossed her finish line just as the sky began to darken. Though it wasn’t her best time, Jamicka was beyond proud of her accomplishment. Putting in the work may be exhausting at times, but the work is worth it.  

Jamicka continues to run virtual races, with others joining her at times. Though they are in different locations, she says they still have just as much fun in spirit with one another. They even do check-ins with each other at both the start and finish lines. Jamicka is a runner at heart and is not letting anything steal her joy for running and the amazing friends she has made through the sport.  

Jamicka is thrilled to run the 2021 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon alongside other passionate runners and friends. Until then, she hopes all participants can find a new joy through running virtually with family and friends across the world. You can still make unforgettable memories, just as she is!  

Indy Mini, Anywhere!

While we miss seeing all of our amazing participants, spectators, and volunteers, we have had so much fun cheering on all of our virtual Indy Mini participants! What do you love most about the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon course? Check out how these virtual Indy Mini participants recreated their own Indy Mini courses, right in their hometowns! 

Create your own start/finish line!

@amberhartsough
@jwkandjsk
@lauren_obermeier

Wear checkered flag gear!

@run_kitti_run
@seskelton9

Create fun signs!

@aimee_deveau
@allytbrett

Create your own pit stations!

@sandy_zielinski_health_coach
@allytbrett

Kiss your own Yard of Bricks!

@keeke_allen
@jmb.323
@krbyrge

Recreate the lap around IMS!

@kybyrge
@krbyrge

Create your own, unique medal!

@dmshively1
@longroadtorunning

Celebrate!

@itsreallyryan_
@mrs_kendalls_art_classroom
@tiffpatterson08
@morgan.grainger

Have you recreated your own Indy Mini course? Share your photos with us by posting on social media using #IndyMini and tagging the 500 Festival on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! You can also experience the Indy Mini from home by checking out this video for a virtual trip along the Indy Mini course! Don’t forget to include your bib in one of your photos and make your post public to be entered into our social media contest.  

Overcoming Challenges and Conquering Miles

For many of us, this time of social distancing has presented many unexpected changes in our lives. For educator and passionate runner, Andrew Bartolacci, this time has brought a mixture of both challenges and blessings.  

Andrew has loved the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and everything about the Month of May since moving to Indianapolis in 2014. In fact, he has participated in the Indy Mini every year he has lived in Indy. He even served as an Indy Mini Ambassador in 2019. “There is something so special about it,” Andrew said. “Even running in the cold rain last year, while miserable, was wonderful at the same time.”  

When the 2020 Indy Mini became a virtual race, Andrew was bummed but understood why the decision was made. However, he knew that he was still going to run because that’s what he does, he runs.  

Juggling the hats of being a teacher, coach, and father, Andrew was originally training for the Indy Mini on his treadmill. To spend time with his family after long days of teaching/coaching, Andrew would wake up at 4 a.m. and head to the gym. However, with the gyms and schools closing, Andrew was able to run outside during the day. With the rolling roads, the wind, and the sun, Andrew’s passion for running was reignited. He was also given the opportunity to spend more time running with his son, Bo, pushing him in the jogging stroller. In fact, ever since Bo was born, running has been their source of father-son bonding. Bo has been Andrew’s training buddy for the last 4 Indy Minis. The two have gone as far as 30 miles together, putting close to over 2,000 miles on the jogging stroller. As Bo is getting older, he is beginning to wave at other pedestrians and notices things along their routes, understanding a little bit more about what Andrew does.

  

Though this unique time has granted Andrew the time to enjoy running with his son, it has also presented challenges. As a physical education teacher for Indianapolis Public Schools, not being there in-person with his students has been tough. He sets up Zoom meetings with his students to continue their learning, but Andrew knows that some of his students are facing challenges themselves. Some may not have access to electronics or the internet at home. For some students, school may be the safest place for them or where they feel their best. Andrew loves to create one-on-one relationships with his students, but has found that challenging with 15+ students in one video call. In effort to uplift his students, Andrew has created a Youtube page to give students and parents some easy, physical activities they can do at home. For each age group K-8, he has created a muscle/bone worksheet, how to find your heart rate, workouts using household items, obstacle courses, an alphabet race, and so much more! Keeping kids active is more important now than ever. “Getting up and moving can completely change your mood and outlook on what’s going on,” Andrew said. “Sunlight feels good and does good for the body. It is so much more rewarding to be active whether inside or outside. Even just going outside and walking can make all the difference in your mood.” 

Bo training for the Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Rookie Run

Despite the challenges presented during this time, Andrew has found ways to keep his students and himself moving. He conquered his virtual Indy Mini on May 3 and had an amazing time with Bo by his side. He has always wanted to share and celebrate a race with his son, so the virtual Indy Mini was the perfect opportunity. To Andrew’s surprise, near the end of their route, Bo jumped out of the stroller and began running. With a smile, he told Andrew he had to chase him. Despite that being the last thing he wanted to do, Andrew happily chased him. It was an experience that Andrew will cherish forever. After his virtual race, Andrew celebrated with his usual glass of bourbon and relaxing outside.  

To other virtual Indy Mini participants, Andrew encourages you to just have fun. Whether it’s creating your own pit stations, recreating the yard of bricks, or wearing a bib, don’t worry about a PR, just have fun!

  

Races May Change but Traditions Remain

Roger Dietz ran his first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon 37 years ago. As a freshman at Ball State University, Roger was wrapping up a distance running class when the Indy Mini sparked his interest. The graduate assistant of the course asked the class if anyone was interested in participating. A big fan of the Indy 500, Roger was hooked on the thought of running a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He decided to attend the race as a spectator to see what the hype was all about. After seeing the incredible atmosphere of support and camaraderie, he knew he had to be a part of it. 

Roger Dietz- Indy Mini 2004

The Indy Mini was one of the most exciting and exhilarating races he’d ever run and could not wait to be a part of it again. Running the Indy Mini has given Roger a sense of accomplishment. He loves being around so many people with the same goal of conquering and finishing the race. Roger’s brother and wife have both joined him for several races. In fact, Roger had once told his wife that God willing, he would love to run until he has completed 50 Indy Minis. 2020 will be his 38th consecutive Indy Mini. 

Throughout the years, Roger has seen many changes to the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. When he first started participating in 1982, the race was held on the Friday before the Indianapolis 500. The start line began on New York and Meridian and the finish line was crossed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There were even a few years when runners could start on two different streets. All participants started at the same time and timing began with gun time and finished when you crossed the finish line at the Speedway. Roger has loved seeing the race grow and the number of participants increase each year to become one of the nation’s largest half marathons. 

Indy Mini 1984

However, the Indy traditions we all love have remained the same. Roger values the continued tradition of running a lap around the Speedway each and every year. The energetic atmosphere and immense support of the spectators has never diminished. And the most delicious celebration, cookies, have always been a sweet tradition.  

Perhaps one of the biggest changes Roger has witnessed has been the move to the virtual Indy Mini this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Though the race will certainly be different, his training and preparations look fairly familiar. Since he normally trains on his own, Roger is used to running solo. However, he has seen more time on the treadmill. In fact, he will be completing his Indy Mini from a treadmill. To create the same race day feeling, he plans to watch a few broadcasted marathons and to envision himself on the courses. While he won’t hear the cheering crowds as he crosses the finish line, Roger still plans to celebrate with a few Michelob Ultras outside on his deck.  

Indy Mini 1991

Roger has been fortunate to participate in the Indy Mini 38 times, yet there were 3 moments where he wasn’t sure it would be possible. After battling car accidents, a fractured heel, and overcoming a seizure and a Meningioma Tumor, Roger still found a way to conquer 13.1 miles year after year.  

“It doesn’t matter what life throws at you,” Roger said. “If you have the desire and the goal to accomplish something, you can achieve it.”  

What Motivates You? Devon Shares Her #WhyIMini Story

What’s your #WhyIMini motivation? For Devon Scott, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is a way to remember her father and inspire herself year after year. Devon’s father passed away in August 2013 after battling a rare cancer.  They used to take regular walks together, which they considered as their special time together. The two of them would have long talks and share stories, laughter, and tears. After his passing, Devon continued to remain active by working out with her sister at the YMCA. One day at the gym, she and her sister came across a sign advertising the YMCA Indy Mini training group. Devon immediately felt drawn to the idea of crossing the Indy Mini finish line. Her father would always ask, “Well why can’t you do that?” With her father’s words in mind, she decided to take on the challenge. Since her father could no longer walk near the end of his battle, this was her way to walk for him when he wasn’t able to.  

The training group benefitted Devon in many ways. She learned how to breathe properly, listen to her body, how to stay motivated, and held her accountable to continue the journey toward 13.1 miles. Through the commitment of the group, she was strengthened by knowing that they were not going to give up on her or let her give up on herself.  

For Devon, the day of the Indy Mini was amazing and emotional at one time. In memory of her father, she wore his photo on the back of her shirt. Throughout the course, Devon was encouraged and supported by many other participants. From the supportive spectators, to the course entertainment, to the wonderful volunteers, and many more, Devon was in awe of how this was more than a race; it was a community spectacle. Despite getting separated from her group, Devon was able to persevere and push herself all the way to the finish line.  

After completing her first Indy Mini, Devon became hooked on that finish line feeling. She has now completed 5 Indy Minis! Running has become a source of therapy and a time of self-reflection for Devon. After training with a group to complete her first half, she applied what she learned to her solo training each year since. Training by herself is challenging in that she must hold herself accountable. However, now that the Indy Mini has become a virtual race, Devon has found it extremely helpful that she has experience training and running by herself. In fact, she has learned to love running by herself so she can run comfortably at her own pace without restricting anyone else.  

While completing her Virtual 2020 One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, Devon will miss running through downtown Indianapolis. However, she is still pumped to wake up and get moving just as she normally would on race day. Preferring to run on sidewalks, Devon has found it helpful to map her mileage throughout neighborhood with many cul-de-sacs.  

To other Indy Mini participants, Devon encourages you to find what motivates you and stick to it. Given the current circumstances, it can be easy to lose motivation. Devon wears her father’s jacket around her waist every time she trains and races. Remember that only you can do it for yourself and you must push yourself to do it.  

To celebrate her Virtual #IndyMini victory, Devon plans to treat herself to her morning coffee and an Epson salt bath.  

Good luck during your Virtual Indy Mini! For virtual resources such as training tips and more, click HERE! 

#INdy Mini Together

The 2020 Virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K are new experiences for all of us. But with new experiences comes new, exciting opportunities! Although we will miss seeing your thousands of smiles, victory embraces, and that finish line feeling, we are #INdy Mini Together! Our 500 Festival staff and interns are thrilled at the opportunity to join you this year for the virtual races! As our staff and interns typically work on an operational front to ensure the best possible race for our participants, the virtual races are the perfect opportunity to experience all that you do during race day and the Month of May.

“I see first-hand what our participants are feeling and know that showing that we’re all in this together is important,” said Maggie LaMar, Digital Marketing Manager. “Plus, we never get to participate in this awesome race experience because we are working that full day. Now, I can finally say I’m doing it together with friends and family. (While social distancing of course!)” 

Maggie LaMar

The 500 Festival has been present in many aspects of several of our lives. However, this is a unique opportunity in which they are able to participate in a 500 Festival event as a current staff member.  

Adrianne Johnson, Youth Programming & Events Coordinator, has participated in the Indy Mini, volunteered with the Festival, and is even a Princess Program alumna.  

Adrianne Johnson

“I love the Indy Mini,” said Johnson. “I did the race with my parents in middle school and volunteered with starting corrals in high school. I was a Princess in 2015 so I worked the Gatorade station outside of Turn 2, then walked the race in 2016, 2017, & 2018 as a Back of the Pack volunteer. I love doing at-home workouts, but training and completing the virtual Indy Mini will give me good reason to get out and move!” 

Joshua Reichart, Sr. Manager Partner Activation, has been a part of the 500 Festival team for 12 years.  

Josh Reichart

“I have worked for the 500 Festival since 2008 and started off as an intern,” said Reichart. “I have watched multiple individuals cross that finish line and see the stories, as well as the face of accomplishment. It is one way to experience the event from an operation and set up standpoint, but always wanted experience what those participants feel during the Month of May. I feel that that this is a perfect opportunity to get back into running and support those that are participating virtual in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K.” 

For some, this unique opportunity presents running as a new hobby or way to stay physically and mentally healthy.  

“I am participating because a part of me has always wanted to get into running, but I just have not found the time to do it,” said Casey Hayes, Event & Program Intern. “In the past I have lacked the motivation to get out and start running, but I have slowly but surely found joy and excitement in getting into the fun of running. You never truly know what you are physically capable of. Push yourself, leave doubt behind and reach for new heights!” 

Connor Ray, Event & Program Intern, has also taken on the challenge as this will be his first time participating in any type of running event.  

“We got this! One day at a time, one mile at a time,” Ray said.  

Cole Bailey, Registration, Ticketing & Customer Service Coordinator, is looking forward to pushing himself to conquer a distance which he has never ran.  

Cole Bailey

“I have never run a distance this far but I am thrilled for the challenge it’s going to bring,” Bailey said. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes you from the start line to the finish line. What matters most is that you finished the race! Make sure you have fun and stay positive.”

Others are no strangers to the sport of running. Ryan Cash, Event & Program Intern, ran collegiate cross country and track at Indiana State University.  

“I enjoy running and want to be able to support the Festival,” Cash said. Have fun while training and chase your goals!”  

Helen Khamis, Marketing Coordinator, Youth Programs and Events, is also a seasoned running veteran. Having grown up running cross country and track, she has always had her eye on completing a half marathon. The virtual Indy Mini seemed like the perfect opportunity for Helen to conquer her 13.1.  

Helen Khamis

“Working at the 500 Festival and being around the running environment again has reignited my interest and motivation to the running world,” Khamis said. “It is one thing to work the Indy Mini from an operational standpoint, but I have always wanted to experience the emotions and joy of completing a half marathon. Getting outside for a walk or run – at a safe distance from others, of course – can do wonders for our minds and bodies. It gives us a chance to clear our thoughts and take a moment to reset from the world. Find what motivates you and take it one step at a time.” 

In true Hoosier spirit, Patrick Merna, Vice President Strategic Partnerships, is continuing to celebrate the Month of May in Indianapolis during his Indy Mini.  

“Just planned our route and great downtown and 500 Festival ties with going buy locations for the routes with Parade, Memorial Service, the Mini Start/Finish Line and other city landmarks!” said Merna.  

Whenever and wherever you are conquering your miles from, know that we are right there with you. From our finish lines to yours, our support stretches infinite miles. We are truly #INdy Mini Together!  

Race Day Encouragement, Conquer Your 13.1 Miles!

After months of miles, training, and hard work, many of you are gearing up to run your Virtual 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon! We are so proud of all of our participants and so are our 2020 Indy Mini Ambassadors. Check out some words of encouragement our Indy Mini Ambassadors have for you as you conquer your 13.1 miles! 

Kevin Anspach: Thanks to all who are still conquering the 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K in the virtual world! The running landscape has changed, but our goals remain the same. We continue to train, we continue to improve our health, and we continue to conquer our goals! Good luck! 

Lynn Buikema: Running is a mental sport. Kick the Mini square in the face and let’s get it done! Struggling at mile 4? Take that chew, think of the belly dancers and push on. Hard to breathe coming at mile 6-ish? Think of Gold Mile, feel the history of coming into the Speedway and let the thankfulness wash over you. Feel like you should quit at mile 10? See the bakery in front of you, and feel 1 of those 35,000 pats your back and remind you, you’ve got this! Close enough at 12.5? Picture the flags, hear the sounds and see the stands lining the street as you finish the spectacle you started out to accomplish. Whether 35,000 of your closest friends are next to you running past the zoo and on the race track, or with you in spirit running their own neighborhoods, we are all in it together! We got this!!! 

Jamicka Edwards: Most times when you train for a long-distance race it’s just you and the pavement. Sometimes you have a good weather, sometimes not so good. Other times, the scenery is beautiful and makes you forget what you’re doing. If you can, find a place or a path that isn’t usually crowed, but a place you can run in peace and enjoy all that nature has to offer you and remind yourself of your MAJOR achievement to come at the finish line! You got this! Live or Virtual you will be an Indy Mini finisher! 

Jim Garringer: Ultimately, this event boils down to one thing: are you willing to challenge yourself? The good things a person does in training and during the race are only measured for a handful of people relative to their finish over the other competitors. For all the rest of us, our competition looks back at us every time we glance in the mirror. You don’t have to be in a crowd of 35,000 to get a PR. You have to train, prepare, and then execute. 

Patti Hammerle: Just keep running or walking! Training and completing a 5K or half marathon is a huge accomplishment and even more so when you do it alone without the hype of a race. Don’t give up on yourself or your goals! And just think how much fun next year will be with 35,000 of your closest running buddies doing it with you.

Lisa Herron: Own the body you wake up to everyday. Walk, crawl, run…. JUST SHOW UP! 

Cynthia Marshall: I know it’s hard to find the support and encouragement to finish any race alone. Especially 13.1 miles. So, build your own race day running buddy and cheering squad! Let everyone know when you’re running your race. Check in with them prior to the start and have them virtually cheer for you with pre-sent messages, text, midpoint call etc. along the way. 

Jason Ronna: My family has decided to make a fun day out of running the virtual Indy Mini. We have mapped out our route through our subdivision where we pass our house about every mile. We are going to set up our own aid station in our driveway. We are also going to have our own post-race cookout.

Danielle Shively: My words of encouragement during these unpredictable times would be to continue to focus on “Your Why.” Which, for most of us, is different but important to us for our own reasons. Allow yourself to run some more relaxed miles to enjoy the journey and capture the memories along the way of a much different looking #IndyMini, and be sure to connect with many of your new virtual friends who are cheering for you the entire way. Run strong and always look forward to brighter days ahead and reconnecting at the race we all love in 2021!

For more resources to help you cross your finish line for the 2020 Virtual Indy Mini, click HERE!