Indy Mini Ambassador: Jessie Hughes O’Leary

A record-breaking 42 #IndyMini Ambassadors are training, recruiting and inspiring others in preparation for the 42nd running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. We’re sharing their stories through a series of blog posts; 2018 Ambassador Features.  Here is one of their stories. 


Jessie’s Story


About three years ago, I started running, a major decision for someone who was overweight and had previously refused to run for any reason. I was at the start line of a race that I planned to walk. Unintentionally, I started running with those around me. In that moment, I felt powerful and strong and during that race, the running/walking combination gave me the spark to dedicate myself to a healthy lifestyle. It was the beginning of my ten-month journey to my goal race, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.


Each year, my Indy Mini story evolves like another chapter in a fantasy book, yet none of it is make believe! My very first Indy Mini was about a bucket list challenge, an unimaginable feat that I would cross off of my list! I was determined to achieve a healthy, happy version of myself and prove that I could accomplish a goal with support from my family. As a result of reaching my personal goals and inspiring others; my mom, aunt and husband are now participating in the 500 Festival 5K!


My second year of running the race was targeted toward testing my limits. In 2017, I ran a 5K PR, but missed my half marathon PR by about five minutes. I immediately registered for the 2018 races again with the intention to improve my time. This year, my the race is about more than my time, it’s about community, too! My family is participating; my husband in the 5K and the Mini, my mom, two aunts and cousin in the 5K, and another cousin and aunt in the Mini-Marathon! Two close friends and I are supporting each other online from three different states as we train. The community of Indy Mini Ambassadors has been a phenomenal bonus to the whole experience. I am also running this year for my awesome buddy, Tristan, who inspires and motivates me to keep going. #IRun4Tristan


Jessie’s #IndyMini Experience


As a native of the Indianapolis area, I always dreamed of participating in the Mini-Marathon one day. When I started running and training, the Indy Mini was my goal race! I had such a blast on race day and met my goal of under three hours without stopping during the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway section. No race compares to the community course atmosphere – whether it’s the volunteer support, the fun factor, an awesome poster, a little cowbell or some great jams, they all give me an extra boost! I compare every other race to the Mini-Marathon. It’s the Gold Standard and definite bucket list item.


Jessie’s Advice


Enjoy the race! This is the most amazing experience – the crowds, entertainment, other participants and the IMS all contribute to the takeaways. Take out your earbuds, keep your head up and be aware of all the excitement, that is energy, to keep you going. If you are struggling, go for that high five, hit the power-up button poster, thank a police officer or volunteer, or dance – it makes a world of difference. If the race doesn’t go as you planned, enjoy the party.


Feeling inspired by Jessie’s story? If you’re interested in participating in the 2018 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, click here


Jessie, along with our other Ambassadors, will be sharing her training experience and motivation leading up to the race. Follow along and share your experience using #IndyMini on social media!



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