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February 28, 2019

DES MOINES, IA – Grand Blue Mile (GBM) officials from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Drake Relays announced the USA Track & Field one-mile road championships will be returning in 2019 as part of the annual Grand Blue Mile. The addition of the prestigious USATF 1 Mile Road Championships elevates the elite-level competition of Grand Blue Mile and is expected to attract Olympians and world championship participants from across the country to vie for a national title and share of the $30,000 prize purse. GBM also hosted the 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018 USATF 1 Mile Road Championships.

"As Grand Blue Mile celebrates our tenth anniversary, we are honored and privileged to welcome back the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships," said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield's senior brand marketing manager and Grand Blue Mile co-race director. "Being entrusted to host a fifth national championship in 10 years provides even more reason to celebrate the tremendous impact this special event has throughout central Iowa and beyond."

Early entrants for the 2019 USATF 1 Mile Road Championships at GBM include:

  • Riley Masters - 2018 Men's USATF 1 Mile Road Champion
  • Mikey Brannigan – 1500 meter Paralympic gold medalist
  • Emily Lipari - 2018 Women's USATF 1 Mile Road Champion
  • Heather Kampf – 2014, 2015 and 2016 Grand Blue Mile Champion

"Grand Blue Mile has gained notoriety and prestige with America's most decorated milers," said Blake Boldon, director of the Drake Relays. "Now marking the event's tenth anniversary, we're proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Wellmark to extend the Drake Relays experience to thousands of participants and spectators alike."

In 2018, more than 40 track and field stars competed for the national title and share of the USA prize purse at GBM. Riley Masters won the men's championship with a time of 4:03.12. The women's championship was captured by Emily Lipari with a time of 4:32.87.

Set the Pace Challenge encourages communities to get moving

GBM officials also announced the continued partnership with the Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) for the return of the Set the Pace Challenge. This challenge encourages Iowans to develop sustainable, healthy habits throughout 2019 — starting with participating in GBM on April 23.

As part of the challenge, the community with the highest percentage of its residents participating in GBM — measured by the number of registrants for a given ZIP code against its total population — will be awarded $10,000 to use on a project that promotes safe and accessible places in which to be active, such as a park, playground or trail.

"We are excited for another year of the Set the Pace Challenge," said Jami Haberl, HSI executive director. "The award provides a great incentive for communities to rally together around. The benefits are two-fold: They'll be participating in a fun, physical activity and making an effort to better their community."

The 2018 Set the Pace challenge community winner, Lohrville, used their award to complete a trail External Site.

Register today

Youth and adult registration for the Grand Blue Mile is now open, with all proceeds supporting school-based wellness programs in association with Iowa Kidstrong and the historic Drake Relays.

For more information and to register, visit External Site.