A New Way to Mini

As we continue to celebrate the Month of May in a new way, many of our 500 Festival staff members and interns have gotten into the spirit by participating in the virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. The 500 Festival team has been running and walking right alongside all of our incredible Indy Mini participants from all across the state! Check out some of their Indy Mini stories below: 

Adrianne, Program & Event Manager 

I hiked (read: walked) my Indy Mini on May 2. I had the date down as the Mini anyway and it felt right to do the Mini on the first Saturday of May. My mom, Anita Johnson, joined me for the race. She had signed up for this year’s race and deferred to 2021, but she was tempted with our celebration ice cream. I am SO PROUD of her for pushing through! We ventured to Bloomington and did our race on the Pate Hollow Trail that is part of Hoosier National Forest and just up the road from Paynetown SRA. We did one full lap, then cut across for a half lap and one lap around the parking lot to reach our 13.1-mile goal!   

My Indy Mini experience both hard and relaxing at the same time. I knew if I was going to do this, I didn’t want to do it in a city. I needed a nature fix in the midst of stay-at-home. We were exhausted to be honest. We didn’t feel celebratory until we got to Bruster’s Ice Cream for our finish line treat.  

I have only experienced one Indy Mini as a staff member, but I can say it is almost nothing like being a participant. I share the excitement of kicking off the race, but from day two of the Mini Marathon Expo through the end of Post-Race Party, we are up just about 34 of 36 hours (roughly) so it all blurs together. There’s a lot of adrenalin, smiles, and congratulating. I am always so excited for all of the participants! 

This was my fourth Indy Mini in five years. The other three years I walked the race as a volunteer. I always take ibuprofen a half hour before I start my race. Grapes make for a great, healthy energy boost. Listen to your body. It’s okay to slow your pace, you know you’re going to win this year! 

Maggie, Digital Marketing Manager 

I completed my virtual Indy Mini in downtown Indianapolis. I started along the canal but it started to fill with more people (shout out to a positive of a virtual race- you can sleep in and complete it when you’re ready!). To be able to still complete my race safely and adhere to social distancing practices, I moved through IUPUI’s campus and past Eskenazi and Riley Hospitals. While traveling through downtown, it was encouraging to notice others completing their virtual races from afar. It definitely motivated to push through, especially running the last 45 minutes alone! 

My “finish line” was the parking lot of my apartment building but I was still ecstatic to get there. In-person races provide such an encouraging and motivational atmosphere that I really had to dig deep to keep going. When I ran past Riley, I gave a wave to the building because my sister works there. Each bib, 500 Festival apparel, or checkered flag I saw made me so excited and pushed me further. It’s very mental running alone but am so proud of all of our participants for rising up to the challenge. 

As a staff member, you get to witness all of the excitement and motivation of race participants. It was definitely weird not spending the days leading up to the first weekend in May at the Expo or starting bright and early in Military Park race morning. Being able to complete the virtual Indy Mini was still special, and it was important to join our community in this challenge. Seeing everyone completing their race and encourage others on social media has been just as great as seeing those faces cross the finish line. Knowing how hard our team worked to make the virtual experience feel as much like a race for our participants then seeing them use those resources was very rewarding. 

To recreate the Indy Mini experience, I participated in all of the Expo “virtual’ yoga sessions with YogaSix and the Hot Room, which I highly recommend everyone do before a long run! I customized and printed my own Indy Mini bib as well. My niece and nephews created signs to cheer me on, which my sister texted to me. My niece has JDM so they weren’t able to support in-person but the message from my sister was just as motivating! I used the Indy Mini finish line PNG Alexa, our graphic designer, created, so I had an “official” finish line photo after I got some water and changed shoes. Later, I recreated runners’ services equipped with a 500 Festival Volunteer, my dog Ellie, where I picked up my banana, Clif bar, and chocolate milk. 

Post-race, I couldn’t put my work phone down, I was just so inspired by all of the participants sharing their race with us on social media! Afterward, I made Pad Thai as my celebratory meal. Highly recommend. 

To other virtual Indy Mini participants, don’t give up. I know it’s cliché and easy advice, but it really is mental. You might not have a crowd cheering you on or a band playing to push you through mile 12 but you just need to shut your brain off and get it done. Also, have fun with it! A virtual race doesn’t have to be about getting a PR. Take in your route and get creative recreating Indy Mini elements for your race. 

Bob, CEO:

I ran my virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K in my neighborhood in Carmel on May 2, my wife Brandee had been training for her first OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and ran her virtual Indy Mini through our neighborhood on May 9 (in 2 hr. 10 min.!)

I loved running in the USS Indiana 5k shirt, a race we helped organize around the commissioning ceremony for the submarine in 2018. Brandee enjoyed my biking around to set up pit stations and our boys enjoyed setting up the runner services area and chalk brickyard finish line.

I wanted to run on the original Mini day. It was symbolic and bitter sweet to be able to run on a day we have always been hard at work. I really missed not having that in a normal cadence and got excited about getting back on the calendar for next year.

For me, my virtual 5K was just some time on my own after lots of calls and in-home time. Lots of reflection. For Brandee, she had been training for months and had some anxiety about running on her own but really nailed it. We had pit stations set up for her, neighborhood friends came out to cheer her on and the boys decorated signs, balloons and finish line. It was a big ‘event’ for the whole family.

To celebrate my virtual 5K, I sat on the deck and took some time to continue the decompression and reflection with water and a banana. For Brandee taking on the Indy Mini, she did some stretching, an Epsom salt batch and some well-earned couch time for the rest of the weekend.

For all virtual Indy Mini participants, make it an event, involve friends and family.  You’d be surprised how much fun others will have with the experience as they support you.

Sabrina, VP Marketing and Communications 

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and completed our virtual race on Saturday, May 2 at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. We had a great time! It was so much fun seeing other virtual participants wearing their custom bibs and custom shirts at Fort Ben! 

It was a little strange and bittersweet participating on what would have been Indy Mini Saturday, but we made the best of it. The last time my husband and I completed the #IndyMini was 6 years ago (I’ve been on the 500 Festival staff every May since). It was fun to participate with my husband once again but I definitely missed working at my normal #IndyMini race day spot at the finish line greeting all of our awesome participants! It made me even more excited for the 2021 race! 

The biggest enhancement was having my 3-year-old son participate with us! Since we participated virtually, we were able to put him in his tricycle and he rode along with us (and we could push him when he got tired). We even celebrated with another virtual 5K the next day! We had such a great time on Saturday, May 2 we decided to do another 5K on the Monon the next day for round 2! 

To virtual Indy Mini participants, use this year’s virtual race to customize your experience. This is your chance to include others that might not typically be able to participate with you. For us, that meant getting to include our 3-year-old into our race since he could ride along in his stroller or trike (these items aren’t allowed at the in-person Indy Mini event for the safety of others).   

Helen, Marketing Coordinator:  

I was originally planning to complete my Indy Mini on the third weekend in May. When May 2 came around the corner, I was so encouraged and motivated from seeing all the participants complete their race that day that I ended up taking on my race on May 2! My route was a huge lap around Geist Reservoir in Fishers, Indiana, which wove through various neighborhoods and nature trails. 

I loved the virtual race experience! My friends and family surprised me by cheering me along my route. It gave me so much motivation to keep going and stay with my pace. I started struggling more towards the end of my race, so crossing the finish line was so rewarding! 

There is so much preparation and a lot of late night / early morning set-ups that go into the production of the Indy Mini. Being able to watch thousands of participants cross the finish line and celebrate their hard work with their loved ones and supporters is so rewarding as a staff member. On the other hand, I have found that there is so much hard work and dedication that participants put into their training schedules! It makes completing the Indy Mini a whole new rewarding experience being a participant. 

My family knew I was heading out to run my virtual race and halfway through my run, I received a photo of a decorated finish line where the end of my race would be. Some family and friends also had a water station for me about halfway through the race, and it was a life saver. It was such a fun surprise to have friends and family join in and help cheer me on! The Virtual Indy Mini Facebook group served as a wonderful support system as well.   

I celebrated my race by drinking a lot of water and taking a nice long nap! My advice for other virtual Indy Mini participants is to have your friends and family get involved either by participating alongside or providing a water stop along the way. It will help you feel motivated and supported on your race.    

Ryan, Event & Program Intern: 

I ran my race through my hometown of Zionsville, IN. I was able to create a nice route that went all through the downtown area. My first Indy Mini was a lot of fun. Obviously was a bit different of a “Indy Mini experience” than I had expected. It was still a lot of fun to be able to complete my first Mini-Marathon. To try and recreate the in-person race experience, I listened to some music during my race. That way I could at least try to recreate the course entertainment! 

It is well worth all of the training to reach the finish line! Stay positive and keep reaching for your goals. 

Claire, Program & Event Coordinator:  

I will be completing my 13.1 miles in Columbus, IN on Sunday, May 24. I am looking forward to accomplishing my goal of completing a half-marathon! I set this goal last summer (smile) My friends and I bought matching outfits for the race and our family and friends are going to set up a few water stations along the course for us! Of course, I am buying 6 pack of Michelob ULTRA’s to celebrate at the finish line! Our parents are going to throw us a little post-race party at the end! 

Cole, Registration, Ticketing, & Customer Service Coordinator:  

I plan on completing the Mini June 6th in Fenton, MO. I am super excited to cross the finish line knowing that I conquered my first 13.1. I plan on setting up pit stations in locations I will be running and drawing the finish line! I will have my own runner services with bananas, cookies, and milk just like the iconic OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. 

Pat, VP Strategic Partnerships:  

I walked my Indy Mini on May 22 in downtown Indy. It was a 500 Festival events tribute with a route downtown that included the OneAmerica Mini-Marathon course and start/finish lines, Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ day, IPL 500 Festival Parade, 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, 500 Festival Miler series, presented by OrthoIndy, 500 Festival Off The Grid, presented by KeyBank, and the 500 Festival office! I was excited to do my first Indy Mini and see downtown…. I missed it! We recreated the Mini-Marathon experience with the pieces of walking the actual start/finish and we had mini USA and checkered flags that we carried with us. We celebrated with American Dairy Chocolate Milk and then a Michelob ULTRA after. 

Jen Lowe, Senior Vice President of Administration

Since we couldn’t be at the IPL 500 Festival parade on the beautiful morning of May 23, we decided to complete our virtual Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K  Bibs customized and put on and a quick picture in front of the checkered flags and we were ready to go!  It wasn’t a fitness walk as we couldn’t go without Charlie, so we had a nice, long one hour and nine minute 5K.

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