Family and friends from all over the world have been crushing their 2020 Virtual OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathons! For this group of five, the virtual Indy Mini was a chance to participate with thousands of runners across the globe, but to conquer their Indy Mini.
On a sunny Saturday morning in Marion, Indiana, Caleb Hawkins, Micah Hawkins, Dr. Rusty Hawkins, Nathaniel Beck, and Jeff Tabone set out for their virtual Indy Mini. These runners are no strangers to athletic challenges. Caleb, Micah, and Nathaniel are avid runners that compete in cross country and track for Marion County Schools. With the cancellation of their regular track season, the three boys did not shy away from their Indy Mini training. They maintained 5-6 runs per week. Running has been their source of mental and physical health during the pandemic. It broke up the days, gave them somewhere to go, and something to look forward to. Caleb and Micah’s father, Dr. Rusty Hawkins, is a History & Humanities professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. As a way to keep the boys entertained while training, he gave history lectures during their long runs. This came about as the university moved online mid-March and his sons became the audience for his recorded lectures. Some of the boys’ favorite lessons included the Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, and the O.J. Simpson trial. Luckily, giving history lectures was just as entertaining for Dr. Hawkins as it was for the boys. The 2020 virtual Indy Mini was Dr. Hawkins eighth consecutive Indy Mini, Caleb’s fifth, and Micah’s second. Dr. Jeffrey Tabone is also a faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University. Though his first Indy Mini, Dr. Tabone enjoys competing in triathlons and Ironman races.
The morning of their Indy Mini, over 50 friends, family, church members, and coaches came out to support the runners while following social distancing guidelines. To enhance their race experience, they volunteered to keep time, work aid stations at every mile, ring bells, blast music, and more! To ensure COVID-19 safety measures were in place, the volunteers wore masks and cheered from afar after setting up the hydration stations. The runners said they always love the support from thousands of spectators during the Indy Mini, but this was particularly special as the fans were cheering just for them. Caleb, Micah, and Dr. Hawkins all broke their personal records as well. Though their Indy Mini may have looked different, these runners, family, and friends were able to overcome challenges to show what community and resilience truly mean.