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.
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.
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.
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.”