You may have seen LeAnne Manuel at 500 Festival running events. You might recognize her from her inspirational social media presence.
LeAnne’s story is incredible. Her love for running changed her life and she’s now lost 165 pounds since 2015.
“The Indy Mini is my home race,” LeAnne said. “The energy of the crowd, running through the streets I grew up on, and being part of the Indianapolis 500 legacy are all factors that make this race so special to me. I feel like the support of the other runners, walkers, and spectators really carried me to the finish line. The Indy Mini changed my life.”
With her life-changing passion for running, LeAnne ran over six half marathons in her first year, each giving her more strength and confidence in herself. She knows the importance of the sport, and that’s why she’s passing it on.
“Running is a lifelong sport,” LeAnne said. “I really believe developing a love for running is something that can keep my kids fit and active for their entire lives.”
LeAnne’s daughter, Hannah, now 13 years old, has watched her mother’s transformation over the past few years. When the 500 Festival mini-mini was introduced in 2016 – a shortened version of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon for kids at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – hundreds of young runners just like Hannah were excited to run at the track just like mom.
“We had such a great time at the mini-mini last year,” LeAnne added. “We are a family who runs for fun and fitness. We got to spend the day enjoying the different activities that were set up. Michelle and I made signs to cheer Hannah on during her race. It was just a great atmosphere for all involved.”
Hannah, then 12 years old, was in the top age group for the mini-mini. It was the first race where she ever received a medal.
In the last year, she’s garnered numerous other race medals as she begins to take after mom, and one particularly special one – her first Indy Mini medal in 2017.
Hannah is too old for the mini-mini now, but it’s where her Indy Mini tradition first began. With the track, the bricks, the medals and shirts, the mini-mini is everything you love about the Mini-Marathon in miniature runner form.
“The kids faces light up as their parents cheer them on. You can make fun signs to hold up as they pass you going over the bricks. It’s just so much fun, and it is step one in fostering a love for running. You never know. Next year, they could end up running the Indy Mini with you like Hannah did!”
Learn more about the 500 Festival mini-mini