Running and Walking While Social Distancing: Mental and Physical Health Benefits

As many of you know, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 500 Festival has suspended all in-person events through May 9, 2020. In accordance with the CDC’s recommendation to provide alternative options for all large events for the next 8 weeks, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K will now be taking place as virtual races.

In a time where social distancing has become the new normal, many of us have had to make extreme lifestyle changes. We are grateful for your understanding and for all participants who are taking part in the 500 Festival virtual races. Though this time is uncertain and unprecedented, staying focused and committed to your training can benefit both your mental and physical health. Social distancing can make your training look a little bit different, however, it is important to maintain healthy habits and stay committed to daily exercise such as running and walking.

Woman Lacing Up Her Gray and Pink Nike Low-top Athletic Shoe

Mental and physical health benefits to running and walking:

  1. Routine exercise leads to overall health, which in turn leads to maintaining a healthy immune system.
  2. Running and walking can boost mood by releasing endorphins, a chemical in the body that produces a euphoric feeling or “runner’s high.”
  3. Running and walking can also reduce stress and anxiety through the secretion of endorphins.
  4. Aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.
  5. Exercising outdoors clears your mind and keeps you active.
  6. Running and walking outdoors with exposure to the sun can also boost your Vitamin D levels, which is essential to the immune system to combat viruses. Though Vitamin D won’t prevent contracting a virus, it can help reduce the severity and benefit recovery.
  7. Running and walking benefit cardiovascular health and maintain weight control.
Person Jogging

Tips for training while social distancing:

  1. Bring tiny movements into everyday habits: do squats during TV commercials, do lunges while doing laundry, walk up and down the stairs, etc.
  2. Stretch your muscles a couple times a week. This is essential to maintain flexibility.
  3. When running and walking outdoors, still follow social distancing guidelines: give other runners their space, maintain a 6-foot distance, and avoid physical contact.
  4. Avoid extreme workouts as they may deplete your immune system.
  5. Stick to a routine.

As we work through this new normal, know that we are all in this together and we are cheering you on. Keep putting in the work and the miles, you deserve it!

Be a Virtual #IndyMini Spectator!

There will be more than the 30,000 participants missing from downtown Indianapolis race weekend this year. Spectators for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K energize the course as they cheer on participants and motivate them across the finish line! Just because we can’t be together in-person this year (we miss you already), we can still shout, stomp, clap, and cow bell for our awesome virtual participants! Here are a few fun and creative friends and family can do to support virtual participants:

  • Create Finisher Tape

Create your own finish line with paper or streamers! Grab a friend or family member. stand 6 feet apart and hold both ends for your racer to run, walk or wheel through. Check out what one of our virtual participants did for his finish line here.

  • Make motivational signs

Most people will agree that seeing spectator signs along the course definitely keeps them motivated to push on. Making signs and standing along your virtual participants’ route is a great way to get involved and encourage them during their race while still practicing social distancing! Need some inspiration? Here are some fun ideas.  Don’t forget to share your sign with us by using #IndyMini on social media!

  • Makeshift Water Stations

Keep your circle involved with your race, even while practicing social distancing! Ask neighbors to utilize mailboxes to place water bottles along the virtual course.

  • Upload a virtual cheer

Give a personal shout out to a specific participant or root for the whole crowd! Click here to submit a spectator sign or a video cheer.

  • Share virtual cheers on social media with #IndyMini

We’re all #INdyMini together! Root for all of the virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K by posting encouraging messages on social media with the hashtag #IndyMini.

Help us cheer for the thousands of virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K participants as they complete their own race. Share your creative solutions with us on social media by using #IndyMini. Thank you all for your support!

Honoring the Gold Mile Virtually

As a part of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, the Gold Mile pays tribute to fallen service members and their families (Gold Star Families). The Gold Mile experience allows Indy Mini participants to celebrate the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to connect with surviving family members of the fallen. An inspiring and motivational aspect of the IndyMini, we encourage virtual IndyMini participants to incorporate their own Gold Mile experience into their run or walk. One way participants can do this is by creating a route that passes war memorials. Below are some memorials and monuments across the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, and the United States: 


  • USS Indianapolis CA 35 Memorial, Indianapolis, IN: Walnut St. & Senate Ave., Central Canal Indianapolis, IN 46202; outdoor site open to the public  
  • Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Indianapolis, IN: 1 Monument Cir, Indianapolis, IN 46204; outdoor site open to the public  
  • Indiana World War Memorial and Museum, Indianapolis, IN: 55. E. Michigan St. 
    Indianapolis, IN 46204; indoor museum but may run/walk past outdoor 
  • American Legion Mall, Indianapolis, IN: 700 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46204; outdoor site open to the public; assessible via Indianapolis Cultural Trail  
  • World War II Memorial, Indianapolis, IN: 700 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46204; outdoor site open to the public 
  • Korean War Memorial, Indianapolis, IN: 700 N Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46204; outdoor site open to the public 
  • Medal of Honor Memorial, Indianapolis, IN: 650 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204; outdoor site open to the public 
  • Veteran’s Memorial Plaza, Indianapolis, IN: 501 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46204; outdoor site open to the public   
  • Indiana 9/11 Memorial, Indianapolis, IN: 421 W Ohio St, Indianapolis, IN 46202; outdoor site open to the public 


  • Four Freedoms Monument, Evansville, IN: 201 SE Riverside Dr, Evansville, IN 47713; outdoor site open to the public  
  • Tippecanoe Battlefield Park, Battle Ground, IN: 200 Battleground Ave, Battle Ground, IN 47920; outdoor site open to the public  
  • George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, Vincennes, IN: 401 S 2nd St, Vincennes, IN 47591; temporarily closed  
  • John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge, Jeffersonville, IN: I-65, Louisville, KY 40202  

United States  

  • National Mall, Washington DC; National Mall and Memorial Park Grounds remain open but pedestrian traffic may be restricted in certain areas of the National Mall 
  • 9/11 Memorial, New York City, NY: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007; Memorial temporarily closed  
  • Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, MO: 2 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO 64108; temporarily closed through April 24  
  • Statue of Liberty, New York City, NY: Liberty Island New York, NY 10004; temporarily closed  
  • Bunker Hill Monument, Boston, MA: Monument Sq., Charlestown, MA 02129; temporarily closed 
  • Marine Corps Memorial, Arlington, VA: Arlington, VA 22209 
  • Air Force Memorial, Arlington, VA; 1 Air Force Memorial Dr, Arlington, VA 22204; open to pedestrian access only   
  • USS Chicago Anchor, Chicago, IL: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL.; Navy Pier temporarily closed to the public through April 23 
  • National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, VA: 3 Overlord Cir, Bedford, VA 24523, temporarily closed until April 23 
  • National Memorial Arch, Valley Forge, PA: 420 Gulph Rd, King of Prussia, PA 19406; Valley Forge National Historical Park is temporarily closed 

Please note that recommendations from the CDC and local government mandates may prohibit some monuments from being open to the public. Please check with any site before visiting. 

You can also download a Gold Mile Bib to wear in honor of a fallen soldier during your race.

Share your virtual Gold Mile with us on social media by using #IndyMini and tagging the 500 Festival. Good luck and thank you for helping us honor the incredible sacrifices of our military.

How Does a Virtual Race Work?

Step 1 – Register

Visit to signup for Virtual Indy Mini or 5K

If you registered for the in-person event before March 18, you will need to select the “Virtual Race” on the 2020 Participant Options form that was emailed on March 19

Step 2 – Train. Connect. Inspire.

Accelerate towards your finish line goal and train for your virtual race. Share your training journey on social media and encourage fellow participants by tagging #IndyMini in all of your posts! Make sure to follow the 500 Festival on social media where we’ll share training inspiration, participant stories, and cheering you on every step of the way. You can connect with your fellow 2020 race participants by joining our private Facebook group.

Step 3 – Complete Your Race

Pick the day and time you want to complete your race. Then, run, walk, or wheel your race distance wherever you’d like – outside, on a treadmill, your neighborhood. Keep track of your run or walk using a watch, activity tracker or smartphone app. Don’t forget to download and customize your race bib!

Step 4 – Submit Your Results

Once you complete your race, visit the 2020 Indy Mini finisher webpage to submit your finish time and race recap. Don’t forget to share your race photos on social media and use the hashtag #IndyMini to inspire other participants!

Step 5 – 2020 Race Gear

You’ll receive your 2020 race shirt and finisher medal in July (after the race ends). Don’t forget to customize and download your finisher certificate at

Step 6 – Celebrate & Repeat

Savor every second of celebrating your race accomplishment! Your participation helps support the 500 Festival’s free fitness, health, and educational programs for 100,000+ Hoosier kids every year. Then, register for the 2021 Indy Mini and use your $10 discount we’ll send all virtual participants!

Kanaan’s Ways to May

The #IndyMini is almost here! We are thrilled to have IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan joining us to run the 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Tony is no stranger to the Month of May or to the Indy Mini. He conquered the 13.1 miles in 2016 and served as the official Pacesetter in 2017, raising thousands of dollars for charity. One of IndyCar’s most popular drivers and an Indianapolis resident, Tony is excited to connect and commit with the Indianapolis community. 

“I’m excited to join in on the celebrations by running in America’s best half marathon – the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Not only is it a great way to stay physically fit, but gives me another opportunity to connect with fans. I’ve already recruited my wife, Lauren, and several friends to join me on May 2. I hope that fans will feel inspired and commit to join me at this Indy Mini!” 

Tony’s commitment to the Indy Mini is a great way for him, along with his family and friends, to stay fit.

With many health benefits, running can help athletes of all sports to stay in shape and perform their best.

  1. Cardiovascular health: Running ensures efficient flow of oxygen throughout the body to strengthen the heart and reduce the risk of heart attack.
  2. Weight control: Running is a leading way to burn calories, helping to lose or maintain a consistent weight. It also strengthens many muscles including muscles in the legs and core. 
  3. Stress relief: Running forces the body to exert excess hormones and energy to relieve stress, improve appetite, and sleep quality.
  4. Boost mood: The body secretes hormones that naturally improve mood when running. This can also help runners to feel more energized and focused.  

Join Tony in running the 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 2! Registration is open for the 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K.

It Runs in the Family

Taylor Tragesser is a 10-year-old from Morristown, Indiana and passionate runner. She’s getting ready to accomplish the 2020 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, her first half marathon. However, this certainly is not her first introduction to running. Taylor has been running with her father since she was a toddler. In fact, it is an activity her whole family of six participates in together. Even Taylor’s younger siblings, four-year-old Presley, seven-year-old Landon, and nine-year-old Chloe, enjoy running at the track with the family. Taylor competed in her first 5K at six years old, followed by her sister competing in her first at just three years old. Taylor’s mom, Ashley, says she and her husband let their kids run around the track as soon as they are old enough to walk.

Taylor will take on the Indy Mini on May 2 with her mom, dad, and sister. In addition to their training, the Tragesser family has a goal of running a total of 4,040 miles in the year 2020. So far, the family has completed 634 miles with Taylor completing 162 of those miles herself. Taylor loves running with her family as a fun way to stay healthy and spend time together. A friendly competition, Taylor hope to one day beat her dad as she comes closer and closer each year.

Taylor is also no stranger to competing against older runners. In fact, she competed on the Morristown Middle School cross country team last season as a fourth grader. Despite being the youngest member, Taylor was able to excel on the team. She received five first places and was voted most valuable runner. Taylor has also competed in the cross country Junior Olympics and ran at the Nationals competition in Wisconsin. She was recently named the 2019 USATF Junior Olympics Cross Country Indiana Athlete of the Year.

Taylor is most excited to share the memory of completing the Mini-Marathon with her family, who has been her motivation through her training. Her parents encourage Taylor and her siblings to do their best and challenge them to improve. Future goals for Taylor include running on her middle school, high school, and college teams. Taylor also hopes to one-day complete a full marathon. We can’t wait to cheer on Taylor and her family at the Indy Mini!

Join Taylor and her family at the start line on May 2! Register now for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K before online registration closes on April 27. More info: