INDIANAPOLIS, Ind– Welcome to the Greatest Spectacle in Running!

One of the US’ feature half marathons, Saturday’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon was the greatest highlight of the two years I’ve spent in downtown Indianapolis.

Indy Mini runners await the beginning of the race.

Yesterday’s Indy Mini saw a turnout of 20,000+ runners, and many more spectators. Its 41st running was flawlessly coordinated, and the course was well designed to showcase the sights, sounds, and people that make Indianapolis one of America’s favorite cities.

On race day, the Indianapolis community truly banded together to showcase its unique and friendly culture. Every mile of the course was peppered with live music and tangible support. From families gathered in their front lawn banging pots and pans, to local churches performing choreographed songs and line dances, Indianapolis was abuzz with love and admiration for its runners.

One of the race’s most intriguing features was a 2-mile lap on the Indianapolis Speedway–home of the Indy 500. Runners could pose for pictures, kiss the bricks, and simply enjoy an IndyCar driver’s view of the track.

Another highlight at the Speedway was olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi’s “Motivational Mile.” Designed to keep marathoners going strong on the back half of the track, the seventh mile was decorated with signs lauding the mini’s far-reaching effect on Indy, like KidsFit, for example: an Indy Mini-funded elementary school curriculum that promotes health and fitness for Indiana’s kids.

Just as invigorating as high-fiving Meb on the Speedway was getting a “free power up” from a child playing the Mario Cart theme song, accompanied by parents dressed as Mario and Luigi. And most amusing was the sign along White River Parkway that read “Run like you’re late for an overbooked United flight!”

Beyond cheering spectators, signs, music and dance, my fellow runners contributed immensely to the satisfying, amiable mini-marathon culture. Among the most noteworthy participants were the family who ran bearing two Chinese Dragons over their heads, the many children keeping pace with Mom and Dad on legs half their size, and the numerous Marvel and DC costumes.

Indianapolis firefighter crosses the Indy Mini finish line in bunker gear.

Running the race myself for the first time, I was inspired by soldiers rucking the 13.1 miles with 30+ pounds on their backs and by those running remotely in Kosovo. Another heart wrenching finisher was an Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) firefighter running in full bunker gear with his SCBA mask and air tank. To our soldiers and firefighters–Thank you for your service. We are  greatly indebted to public servants like you.

So if you’re near Indy next May, this world renown spectacle in running is one you don’t want to miss again! Next year, catch me at the Indy Mini on May 5, 2018, for more excitement, inspiration, and one serious runner’s high.

Photos by Collin Wampler, Wampler Photography, 2017. 

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