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Grand Blue Mile celebrates fifth running, second USA championship

One-mile road race draws participants from as far away as Texas, Florida and California

April 3, 2014

The fifth annual Grand Blue Mile on April 22 is expected to draw a record number of participants — some of whom are traveling great distances — to race to the finish. The event is in its second year of hosting the USA 1 Mile Road Championships, and the promise of sharing the course with track and field’s elite attracts amateur and recreational runners from all over the United States.


“The Grand Blue Mile encourages people to move more and live better, and engage Iowans at all levels of fitness, which can have a positive impact in the health of our state,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. “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.”


The event — scheduled to kick off the 105th Drake Relays — has developed into a routine stop for many of America’s best milers. Last year’s men’s champion and 2014 World Indoor Championships alternate Garrett Heath is scheduled to defend his title, as is Kate Grace, the defending women’s champion who bested two-time winner Sara Hall by a half-second at the 2013 event. Olympic silver medalist and crowd favorite Leo Manzano also returns to headline a competitive field. Notable entrants for the 2014 USA 1 Mile Road Championships include:


Men’s Division

  • Garrett Heath
    • 8-time NCAA All-American (Stanford University)
    • 2013 USA 1 Mile Road Champion
    • 2014 World Indoor Championships alternate (1500m)
    • Mile personal record: 3:53.15
  • Leo Manzano
    • 9-time NCAA All-American (University of Texas)
    • 2012 USA Olympic Trials Champion (1500m)
    • 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist (1500m)
    • Mile personal record: 3:50.64
  • Craig Miller

    • 8-time NCAA All-American (University of Wisconsin)
    • 2012 USA Olympic Trials finalist (1500m)
    • 2012 USA 1 Mile Road Champion
    • Mile personal record: 3:55.09 (indoors)

Women’s Division

  • Kate Grace
    • 4-time NCAA All-American (Yale University)
    • 3rd-place, 2013 Wannamaker Mile
    • 2013 USA 1 Mile Road Champion
    • Mile personal record: 4:28.79 (indoors)
  • Heather Kampf
    • 9-time NCAA All-American (University of Minnesota)
    • 2012 USA 1 Mile Road Champion
    • 2014 World Indoor Championships finalist (1500m)
  • Sara Hall

    • 7-time NCAA All-American (Stanford University)
    • 2-time Grand Blue Mile Champion (2011, 2012)
    • 2011 USA 1 Mile Road Champion
    • Mile personal record: 4:31.50 (indoors)

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.


“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.”


Registration for the Grand Blue Mile is open and costs $15 for youth (ages 17 and under) and $25 for adults. Event proceeds support Iowa Kidstrong school fitness programs and the Drake Relays. Visit to register for the race, view the course map, get training tips and view spectator information.


About the Grand Blue Mile
The Grand Blue Mile is an annual one-mile fitness run/walk sponsored by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, in partnership with the Drake Relays, to engage individuals at all stages of fitness, encourage healthy habits and empower positive change. The annual wellness event includes recreational, competitive and invitational events featuring a field of elite male and female track and field athletes from around the world. Proceeds from the event benefit Iowa Kidstrong, Inc., an organization dedicated to promoting healthy, active lifestyles among youth. For more information about the Grand Blue Mile, visit


About Nationwide
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, homeowners and life insurance, annuities, mortgages, long-term savings plans, among others.


About Wellmark
Wellmark, Inc. ( ) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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