Mini-Marathon going virtual for 2021

Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS – The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon will again be a virtual event this year.

Organizers announced Monday that the event and Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K will be fully virtual. Currently registered participants will receive details with additional information regarding their options.

The 500 Festival said it worked with health officials, medical experts, and community leaders to develop a safety plan for this year’s event. Organizers decided it would not be feasible to host the Mini-Marathon in its traditional format after an extensive review.

Organizers hoped they’d be able to hold the event in person, but challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to guarantee the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators and staff.

“Like all of our Indy Mini participants, volunteers, and spectators, we were eager, hopeful, and excited to return to the traditional OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon experience this year,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “Right now, the most important thing all of us can do is to support our local and state health officials and hospitals, as well as focus our efforts on positive community outcomes. We will continue to work on the remaining 500 Festival month of May activities and look forward to participating in the events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway culminating with the Indy 500.”

Here’s what the virtual experience will include:

  • A custom race package including distance-specific finisher gear, runner’s service items, and much more, delivered to participants 
  • Virtual resources, including digital bibs, finisher certificates, and access to a virtual participant-only Facebook group 
  • The new Indy Mini app that serves as a center for GPS tracking, race results, announcements, and real-time spectator tracking 
  • An interactive and virtual health & fitness Expo 

Bryant said 25,000 to 30,000 people typically participate in the Indy Mini, making it one of the largest races in the country. The 500 Festival said it made sense to go virtual because of the event’s scale.

This decision comes just a few weeks before March Madness where a majority of the tournament’s games will be held in Indianapolis.

“It is just different when you are at a public venue versus a fixed facility that can have measures you can put in place,” Bryant explained.

The non-profit said they have to let runners know as far out as possible since people are training. Bryant said they did not make this decision because of “pushback” from state and local health officials.

“I don’t think it was so much their concerns about the scale or the volume or the number of people but how soon could those decisions be made and how far out could those decisions be made that we could appropriately react to those,” he said.

Reducing the number of participants and determining who those people would be did not seem to be the right course of action, according to Bryant.

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