Five Reasons to Run This December

A man running in the snow

It’s officially December; the month of the year that welcomes winter and sends the running community to indoor treadmills where it’s cozy and warm. We know it’s hard to balance your holiday season to-dos with an unappealing cold workout, but here are five reasons to get out and run this December:

1. Vitamin D

What is Vitamin D? It’s the “Sunshine Vitamin”!

A lack of Vitamin D is one of the leading causes of seasonal depression and part of the reason we get sick more easily in the winter. Getting just 10-15 minutes of sunlight each day is great for your skin and can fight depression and illness. Taking advantage of the sunlight this winter for a short run will make you happier and healthier!

If the weather is too much to take on, and it’s hard to find that perfect, sunny running time, look for foods that are high in Vitamin D like fish, mushrooms, orange juice and milk.

2. Stronger Heart

In cold temperatures, the heart works harder to distribute blood to the body. Exercising in the cold is like running with ankle weights for your heart. The process builds more endurance and a tolerance for your heart to work at a higher rate. Once you’ve conquered the winter running, the spring weather will be a breeze for your heart.

3. Burn More Calories

Similar to your heart working harder in the winter, so does your entire cardiovascular system. Fighting the cold elements will cause you to burn more calories than a cozy, indoor treadmill run. Your sweat will dry and evaporate much faster in the cold air, but don’t think you’re sweating less, or burning fewer calories. Quite the opposite!

4. Train Different Muscles

When you run on a straight track or treadmill, your body tirelessly works the same muscles used to maintain your running posture and endurance. And that’s not always bad! While we don’t recommend sprinting down icy streets, hitting a road or trail coated in snow and various winter elements can help train other muscles in your body. That occasional lateral movement and the fight in your calves to propel through snow can be beneficial to getting more out of your run!

5. Eat More Holiday Food! 

Running in the cold is a great combatant for winter weight gain. Our bodies are more susceptible to adding weight in the winter due to a decrease in activity level and a slowed metabolism. Getting out and running essentially tricks your body into coming out of hibernation. Not only that, but we all want to indulge in some holiday treats! If you want to feel better about eating a little unhealthy later in December (and I think we all do), make up for it by hitting the trails and streets now!  |  |  @500Festival  |  |  


August in May: An #IndyMini Story

This story took place in the magical month of May, but it became real just this week.




This past year – in May of 2016 – a Mini-Marathon participant by the name of Mark Seitz was about to run his 18th Indy Mini (applause Mark). Seitz picked up his packet at the Mini Expo per usual. Inside, he found a t-shirt, hat and bib; your typical goodies in a Mini package. But he found something not-so-typical, too; a hand-drawn picture with a note from a local elementary student.

August Stella was a 4th grade student at Carey Ridge Elementary school last year. He was one of 25,000 students to take part in the Indianapolis 500 and 500 Festival Education Program in 2016 – the first year students wrote notes to Mini-Marathoners. In his note, he wished a random participant (in this case, Seitz) good luck in the Mini. He also drew a blue race car.

As Seitz blazed the Mini course for yet another year, he took to the straight away at IMS thinking about the race car that August had drawn. Seitz decided to thank August for the motivation by giving him his Mini medal and bib. With the help of his wife, Linda, he did exactly that. Over 25,000 students wrote notes to 35,000 Mini-Marathon participants, so it seemed unlikely that this was anything more than a random act of kindness from August to Mark, and back again.

Linda took the medal, accompanied by a note to “Augie”, and delivered it to Carey Ridge Elementary. Later that night, Mark received a message from Augie’s mother, Leigh. The message read:

Mr. Seitz,

My name is Leigh Stella, and your wife, Linda, delivered your note, bib, and medal to my son Augie today.  

I cannot thank you enough for this kindness. Augie has had a tough school year… it’s been a struggle, but we’re hoping to finish strong. You might imagine how your note and gift has encouraged and excited Augie already.

We are so grateful that you sought Augie out — but I guess we should not be surprised… we were delighted to discover that you are married to one of our favorite people!  Linda cared for our daughter, Kate, in the infant room at Maple Glen.  It is indeed a small world!

Blessings to you sir!  You have made one little boy very proud… he hasn’t taken the medal off yet.

With fondness, The Stella Family



The story is such an awesome example of the impact of the Mini-Marathon, but it didn’t stop there. On Sunday, Nov. 12, Mark and Augie finally met… by accident… at a pizza restaurant.

“What a great day! I got to finally meet Augie!
Auggie and his family happened to walk into the same local pizza restaurant where Linda and I were dining this evening. Linda took the opportunity to introduce me to this cool young man.”

And with that, a now-5th grader and an experienced Mini-Marathoner became instant friends. Students will continue to write notes to Mini-Marathoners as part of the education program in 2017, and we hope to see more stories like this.

We love May here at the 500 Festival, but we’re pretty fond of August now, too.



Read Mark Seitz’ full blog

Learn about the Indy Mini and how you can run with a purpose through Mini With A Meaning


#IndyMini Ambassadors Take NYC, Monumental, and More

Over the weekend of Nov. 5-6, a plethora of our running fanatics took to the streets of Indianapolis, New York City, and more. It was a race-heavy weekend in the world of running with the Monumental Marathon, the NYC Marathon and other events across the country.

Our Indy Mini participants were sure to be littered throughout, with a large contingent conquering the Monumental Marathon on Saturday. Our Mini Ambassadors took a quick pause in their pre-race preparations to show their Ambassador shirts and Indy Mini pride for the social media world.

Here are some posts from New York, Indy, and even Panama City Beach:

























Keep sharing those running photos in #IndyMini gear and we’ll keep giving shout outs!  |  |  @500Festival  |  |  


Pacesetter 2017: Tony Kanaan


On October 27, the 500 Festival announced this year’s Pacesetter for the Mini-Marathon would be none other than IndyCar superstar, Tony Kanaan. Ironically, the announcement came on the same morning Kanaan’s wife, Lauren, gave birth to their new son, Max.


T.K. welcomed Max to the world and the 500 Festival welcomed you to challenge T.K. – a decorated Indianapolis 500 champion – for Pacesetter pride in the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

What the Pacesetter Means

It’s an exciting year for the Pacesetter Program, but that Pacesetter mark means a few things:

  • For every person who beats Kanaan’s time, the 500 Festival will donate $1 to a charity, voted on by participants. Basically, beat T.K. and help the community. Simple.
  • That guy you’ve seen year after year in the Indy 500 – flashing before your eyes at 200+ mph – is now within reach. If you’ve heard the phrase, “lightning in a bottle”… Well, we took the wheels off of lightning. Now it’s up to you to bottle him. That is, if you can catch him first.

How To Beat Tony’s Time

Last Spring, Kanaan traded in the car keys for running shoes and dashed around our 13.1 mile course. He finished in just 1:43:29. In hopes of donating more money, we took that time and added on five extra minutes for every place above 10th that Kanaan finished in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series. T.K. finished seventh, adding another 15 minutes for a time to beat of 1:58:29 – just 91 ticks from a flat two-hour run.

Last year’s Pacesetter mark was set by the Colts’ Cheerleaders with a time of 2:07. Nearly 6,700 runners timed in before 2:07, netting $6,669 for three different charities.

If you’re up for the Pacesetter challenge, use #CatchingKanaan on social media to share your training, friendly trash talk for Tony, and your official time come race weekend in early May. It’s your turn to be faster than IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan! Don’t miss it!  |  |  @500Festival  |  |