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Grand Blue Mile To Celebrate Fifth Running; Second USA Championships

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: April 21, 2014
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DES MOINES, Iowa – On Tuesday, elite and amateur athletes will race alongside members of the Des Moines community and visiting guests in the fifth-annual Grand Blue Mile. The Grand Blue Mile — a part of the 105th Drake Relays — is the Midwest’s premier community street run for all ages and abilities and has seen more than 13,000 participants since it began in 2010.

The promise of sharing the course with elite track athletes attracts amateur and recreational runners from all over the United States. This year, the race is expected to draw a record number of participants from across the country. Races at 6 p.m. with the Iowa Kidstrong quarter-mile race with the recreational and competitive division races following. The 2014 USA 1-Mile Championship races start at 7:15 p.m. with the women’s race.

“While the Des Moines community has continued to support this event by the thousands, it’s been rewarding to welcome participants from across the nation to partake in what’s become a great Midwestern tradition,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. Wellmark is the primary sponsor of the race.

Not only is the race a fun event, it’s also a significant event. This will be the second year that the Grand Blue Mile doubles as the USA 1 Mile Road Championships.

Due in large part to this, the Grand Blue Mile has developed into a routine stop for many of America’s best milers. Eight-time NCAA All-American and 2014 World Indoor Championships alternate Garrett Heath is scheduled to defend his title as last year’s men’s champion. But he has some tough competition.

Olympic silver medalist and crowd favorite Leo Manzano also returns to headline the competitive field. As a nine-time NCAA All-American and a 2012 USA Olympic Trials Champion, Manzano’s success should not go unnoted. His personal best time in the mile is nearly three seconds faster than Heath’s, with a time of 3:50.64 compared to Heath’s 3:53.15.

2012 USA 1 Mile Road Champion Craig Miller will also be making an appearance at this year’s race. The eight-time NCAA All-American and 2012 USA Olympic Trials finalist has a personal best mile time of 3:55.09 (indoors).

The women’s race will be one to keep an eye on. Last year, four-time NCAA All-American Kate Grace defeated the two-time Grand Blue Mile champion Sara Hall by a half-second. Hall returns this year in hopes of reclaiming her title and Heather Kampf also joins the fight for first as a nine-time NCAA All-American, 2014 World Indoor Championships finalist and winner of the 2012 USA 1 Mile Road Championships.

This year’s race features a top prize of $5,000 each for the men’s and women’s champions, with the potential to earn an additional $2,500 for setting a new course record. Overall, $30,000 in prize money will be contested across the men’s and women’s championship divisions.

The addition of corporate sponsor Nationwide creates further growth potential for the nation’s third-largest road mile race.

“Nationwide is thrilled to join Wellmark and the Drake Relays to sponsor the Grand Blue Mile,” said W. Kim Austen, President and COO Nationwide/Allied Group. “We believe in supporting our members and the communities where they live and work, and are honored to be a part of this unique event that promotes downtown Des Moines.”

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