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Mini-Marathon follows long historical road

The popularity of long-distance running in America reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s. Millions of baby-boomers got their exercise jogging, and the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon were two of the most popular, one-day participant sporting events in the country.

Actually, the 500 Festival’s first foray into the world of marathons was going to be a bicycle race. When Mini-Marathon planners decided that a May bicycle race might take away from the annual Little 500 at Indiana University in Bloomington, the next idea they floated was to sponsor a half-marathon.

The first organizers - Dave Cassidy, Jim Morris, Frank McKinney and Bill McGowan answered Tony Hulman’s request to tie the race in the Indianapolis 500 weekend. The race was organized by American Fletcher National Bank and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for two years.

AFNB and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ran the Mini-Marathon in 1977 and 1978, bringing in Olympic champion distance runners Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers. Chris Schenkel, the ABC-TV sportscaster from Bippus, Ind., served as master of ceremonies at the first race.

In 1979, the Mini-Marathon became an official 500 Festival event. The event grew rapidly in the 1980s and even more throughout the 1990s. Today, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is noted as the nation’s largest half-marathon with a field of 35,000 runners and walkers taking to Indianapolis streets the first Saturday in May.

500 Festival Mini-Marathon Winners

500 Festival Mini-Marathon Records

Mini-Marathon Alumni Club

Congratulations to the following athletes who have participated every year in the Mini-Marathon since the race began in 1977.


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The Mini-Marathon By Year:







The temperature was climbing into the upper ’80s at 11 a.m. as Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony Hulman started more than 800 runners north from Monument Circle in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Two-time Olympic marathon medallist Frank Shorter had a three-second lead over Indianapolis school teacher Bill Gavaghan as they passed the Indianapolis Museum of Art, near the race’s midway point. Shorter gradually pulled away to win, crossing the Speedway’s famous one yard of bricks and receiving "500" chief starter Pat Vidan’s checkered flag in 1:03:56. Gavaghan was more than one minute behind. After finishing, Shorter called the course "hot and hard" as he nursed blisters on both feet. He departed soon after to run the Virginia 10-Miler that weekend. Mary Clifford, entering her first race since beginning to run two years ago, was the first female finisher. "I like to run just for fun," she said afterward. "I don’t really like competition." Sisters Darlene and Denise Hathway tied to win the girls’ junior division. The course for the inaugural Mini-Marathon was actually 13.4 miles and had only four aid stations, which had many runners "hot" afterward. American Fletcher National Bank and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes were initial sponsors, along with the Speedway and Coca-Cola.


The media played up a "showdown" of two marathon greats - Frank Shorter, who planned to defend his crown, and Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers. Shortly before coming to town, however, Shorter suffered an injury and opted for the pace car. Shorter yelled out mile splits to his friend and rival Rodgers, who in spite of the hot temperature pulled away from Bowling Green, Ky.’s Robert McOmber to win in 1:03. Miki Gorman, 1977 Boston Marathon winner who had run the second fastest women’s marathon, captured the women’s race in 1:20:56. Two races were offered - the half marathon (which actually measured 13.4 miles) and a 7-mile event. As the pack thinned out near the halfway point at Coffin Golf Course, where the shorter race was to finish, several front-running participants strayed from the route. "About a half-mile later, some bicyclists told us we were going the wrong way," said Rich England of Bloomington, Ind. Gorman was perturbed by the lack of split times along the route. "If they want more international competitors," she said, "they should give split times." Rodgers said he like the course’s variety. "I wasn’t bored," he said. "The course went quicker because my mind was on the changes."


The reins of managing the Mini-Marathon were turned over to 500 Festival Associates, organizers of the Mayor’s Breakfast, Queen’s Ball, and parade leading up to the Indianapolis 500. To avoid the heat of the first two races, the start time was moved to 9 a.m. The temperature was in the mid-60s as the field of approximately 2,600 runners took off up Meridian Street on their way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year runners were promised split times at every mile and additional water stops. Dean Behrmann, who had just earned his degree from the University of Montana, used a plane ticket he had received from his parents as a graduation gift to return home and win the race. The Indianapolis Arlington High School alumnus finished in 1:09:17. Penny DeMoss, of Los Altos, Calif., crossed the finish line of the 13.4-mile course in 1:28:40 to win the women’s race.

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There was controversy at the end when the first runner across the finish line, David Hoover, of Champaign, Ill., was found to be unregistered. Race officials disqualified Hoover, giving the win to Eric Wood, of Greencastle, Ind. Wood, the "junior" division winner in the inaugural Mini-Marathon, finished in 1:08:55, more than one minute ahead of Indianapolis’ Willie Young. Shirley Kay Durtschi, of Portland, Ore., won top honors for the women, finishing in 1:19:58. More than 3,431 runners finished the now 13.1-mile course on a day of mild temperatures. There was confusion in the chutes at the finish, which contributed to the need for 19 days to finally sort out results.

A record field of 4,234 runners entered the fifth annual race, including David Hoover, who returned as an official runner, determined to add his name to the official winners. He and John Roscoe, a first-time entrant from Terre Haute, Ind., had a spirited battle. Hoover set the early pace through three miles, hoping no one would keep up. Only two individuals did: Roscoe and 1979 champion Dean Behrmann. The former winner did not hang on very long when Roscoe and Hoover surged. Roscoe threw in a surge of his own to open a 350-yard lead at 8 miles. "At 10 miles, I knew I wasn’t going to catch him," said Hoover. Roscoe went on to win in 1:06:20. Candy Wojcik of Indianapolis won the women’s title in 1:28:30. "I really didn’t expect to win," she said. "I was hoping to place in the top five." Randy Wix, another Indianapolis resident, won the wheelchair race in 1:15. A special event - the Badge Match, pitting teams of local, state and federal public safety agencies - was included, with the five-man Indianapolis Police Department contingent, led by patrolman Mike Price, capturing the inaugural title.

Back in second place at the 7-mile mark, Greg Van Winkle was battling a cramp, and Eric Wood, the 1980 winner, had pulled out a 50-yard lead. It seemed fitting for a week in which Van Winkle had finished a disappointing 10th for Indiana University in the 5,000 at the Big Ten Track and Field Championships. But Van Winkle picked up the pace to win by 23 seconds in 1:07:15. Pre-race favorites John Roscoe of Terre Haute, Ind. and Bill Gavaghan of Indianapolis both ran into trouble early and were never in contention. Indianapolis’ Marilyn Reinhardt led from the start, finishing in 1:23:51, 400 yards ahead of 1981 champion Candy Wojcik. "I was just happy to stay in front because it helps my confidence," said Reinhardt. "I was determined to stay there." The Indianapolis Fire Department Team captured the badge match in the race, which saw a record field of 5,200.

Fort Benjamin Harrison fitness instructor Marilyn Reinhardt, 32, became the first repeat winner as she defended her crown with a victory in 1:23:55. Reinhardt considered the Mini as primer for her attempt to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials in June at Duluth, Minn. Another 32-year-old, Gary Romesser, a health department inspector from Greenwood, Ind., and former Indiana Central University track star, covered the newly certified, 13.1-mile course in 1:05:52 to win the overall title. Romesser took the lead just past the 1-mile mark and was not challenged. Former Butler University star Thom Burleson trailed Romesser at the end by 47 seconds. "It was a good feeling to be in control," said Romesser. "People lining the streets were yelling and that was exciting." In capturing the 13 and under division in 1:15:40, Martinsville, Ind.’s Jeff Evans broke the national age group record by more than three minutes. One of the runners Reinhardt finished ahead of was Dr. Robert Strawbridge, an Indianapolis lung specialist, to whom she was married the following day. Partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 50s made conditions ideal for the record field on 5,400 runners.

Gary Romesser made it back-to-back victories, beating 1979 champion Dean Behrmann by 34 seconds with a run of 1:09:11. That isn’t to say he wasn’t challenged along the way. Turning a corner by Winona Hospital, about 3 miles into the race, Romesser looked up just in time to narrowly avert a collision with a hospital worker who was helping an elderly woman cross the street. Michigan State University’s Diane Bussa, former Carmel High School cross country star, set the women’s course record by finishing in 1:18:59. Her closest opponent, Karen McQuilkin, of Indianapolis, finished more than three minutes behind. "I’d like to come back next year and defend my title and set another ‘new track record,’ as Mr. (Tom) Carnegie would say," Bussa said. A new innovation this year: The two winners received checks for $100, with prize money totaling $3,300 distributed among the top 33 runners in both the men’s and women’s divisions. The field totaled 5,300, including members of the Indianapolis Fire Department, who captured the Badge Match title for the third straight year.

The third time was a charm for Gary Romesser, who broke away from the lead pack at 3 miles and cruised to a victory of more than a minute and a half, finishing in 1:07:06. Eli Lilly & Co. research scientist Lori Veal of Indianapolis won the women’s race in 1:19:20. "I started preparing for this event 12 years ago when I started running," said Veal, who was coached by Romesser. "I pushed myself," she said. "The worst part was when the wind hit me on the backstretch of the track. That made my legs ache." Carmel High School cross country coach Chuck Koeppen showed at age 39 he can stay with the leaders as he finished sixth overall in 1:09:47. Following the race, Romesser suggested that the field be opened up beyond the roughly 5,000-entry limit. "They can handle 10,000 runners here," he said. "They owe it to the people. This is an exciting race. There were a lot of disappointed people because they couldn’t get in." Wheelchair champion Butch Martin of Fishers, Ind. finished just ahead of Koeppen in 1:09:38. The Indiana State Police snapped the Indianapolis Fire Department’s string of three wins in the Badge Match.

Many runners were surprised when three-time champion Gary Romesser decided not to defend his title. The status of favorite went to John Wellerding, of Louisville, Ky. who established a national presence in 1983 when he ran the second fastest half-marathon in the country. Wellerding made his presence felt in Indianapolis as he ran strongly all the way in setting a new course record of 1:05:48. Second place James Nolan of Evansville, Ind. was 35 seconds back. Karen McQuilkin, runner-up two years ago, led 1985 winner Lori Veal across the line, capturing the women’s title in 1:18:02. "The pace was real good and I felt real good," said McQuilkin. "Karen ran a good race," said Veal. "She looked really strong. It was a fine day for a half marathon, but it just wasn’t my day." Wheelchair athlete Butch Martin cut five minutes off his time from the previous year, beating all participants to the finish with a time of 1:04:40. A new division featuring race sponsors saw St. Francis Hospital’s team capture the inaugural title. The field of nearly 7,100 ran on a sunny, mild day.

It was very hot and humid on race morning as the 7,000 participants lined up at the start. Returning after a one-year absence, three-time winner Gary Romesser toed the line with 1986 runner-up James Nolan of Evansville, Ind. Nolan went to the front immediately and set the early pace. Romesser pulled even at 4½ miles and the two ran elbow-to-elbow for 2 miles before Nolan surged as the Romesser slowed for a cup of water. Nolan continued to pull away and crossed the finish line in 1:08:12, with Romesser one minute behind. "I felt like he ran a good, competitive race," said Romesser of Nolan. "I kept hoping he would start walking so I could catch up." Karen McQuilkin opened up a huge lead by the halfway point and was never challenged. She made it two in a row with, in spite of the heat and humidity, a strong run of 1:19:32. "I took it out and ran the pace I wanted," McQuilkin said. "Nobody wanted to run with me, so I ran by myself." Butch Martin again won the wheelchair division with a 1:03:23. The Indianapolis Fire Department reclaimed the Badge Match title, with St. Francis Hospital repeating as sponsor division champion.

Gary Romesser took the 8,200-runner field out extremely fast with a 4:48 first mile and even faster second mile (4:44) that left his only competition the unshaded, carbon monoxide-laden 16th Street and the toasty, seemingly never-ending run around the Speedway. Nothing, however, could keep the 37-year-old Indianapolis man from winning his fourth Mini title with a time of 1:08:33. "It (the race) never gets any easier," he said. "It’s exciting and challenging. That’s what I like about this race." Romesser finished 37 seconds ahead of unregistered Jeff Evans, and more than a minute ahead of Brad Cooper, of Ossian, Ind., who was awarded second place. Last year’s winner, James Nolan, finished third, just behind Cooper. Two runners from Fort Wayne, Ind. - Laura Didion, a race rookie, and Mary Theresa Connolly - captured the top spots in the women’s race. Didion, holder of nearly all of Ball State University’s middle distance records, finished in 1:20:27, with Connolly in 1:21:52. Didion took the lead at 10 miles and was alone as she turned off 16th Street into the Speedway. "I just wanted to finish in the top five," said Didion, the 1983 girls state cross country champion from Fort Wayne Northrop. "I was surprised I felt as good as I did." Frank Epperson finished in 1:05:35 to win the wheelchair division. St. Francis Hospital kept its record perfect in the sponsor division, with the Indianapolis Fire Department retaking the Badge Match title.

Torrential rain, which left the course flooded at about the halfway point, forced race organizers to alter the route at the last minute. That didn’t seem to bother race rookie Don Johns, of Ypsilanti, Mich., who set a personal best and beat former Purdue All-American Bob Stolz, of Eugene, Ore., to the tape by 8 seconds to win in 1:07:31. Johns and Stolz ran stride for stride the last 5 miles of the race. With a stiff wind blowing in their faces, Stolz tucked in behind Johns as they ran west on 16th Street toward the Speedway. Once on the famous racecourse, Stolz stayed glued to Johns’ tail, and they actually bumped and stutter-stepped at 12 miles. Stolz surged into the lead coming out of the fourth turn, but Johns did not let him get away. They got up on their toes before Johns kicked harder and shook Stolz in the last 200 meters. Bloomington, Ind.’s Judy Bogenschutz, who had never run a race of more than 9 miles, won the women’s race in a record 1:17:59, more than four minutes ahead of Rita Uebelhor, of Jasper, Ind. "I was hoping I wasn’t going to get to nine miles and drop," said Bogenschutz. Former champion Butch Martin returned strongly to reclaim the wheelchair title, crossing the line in 1:03:21. The firefighters and runners from St. Francis Hospital held on to their Badge Match and Sponsor Division titles. Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh also ran the race, finishing in 1:46.

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An unseasonably cool and wet day greeted the 10,400 registered participants (and several hundred bandits) on race day. The Big Ten swept the first three men’s places as University of Wisconsin All-American Keith Hanson led David Mora, an Indiana University graduate student, and Scott Williams, just out of IU, to the finish. Hanson led from start to finish, crossing the line in 1:04:13, 46 seconds ahead of Mora. It wasn’t a cakewalk for Hanson, though. Mora ran nearly 8 miles directly behind Hanson, who despite fighting a stomach cramp, kept clipping off 4:50 miles. Hanson "got a shot of adrenaline" with 3 miles to go and surged at 11 miles to shake Mora and go on to win. "I’m surprised. I really expected to win," said Mora afterward. "I knew he was the only runner I had to worry about." Ruth Ozmun, runner-up in 1985, captured the women’s race in 1:18:17, one minute ahead of Karlene Erickson, of Peru, IN. Ozmun took the lead early and had a commanding advantage as she crossed the 10-mile mark in 59:40. Judy Bogenshutz’s race record from the year before was still within reach until rain started falling and Ozmun backed off. "It got pretty sloppy at the end," she said. Butch Martin dominated the wheelchair division, improving his previous best race time by more then six minutes. Martin broke the tape in 56:52. The Indianapolis Fire Department team won the Badge Match, and St. Francis Hospital remained undefeated in the sponsors’ race.

Wearing race No. 4, four-time champion Gary Romesser was the class of the field of 11,032. Romesser took the lead early and ran alone nearly the entire distance, pumping his fist in victory as he crossed the finished line in 1:08:24. He dedicated his dominating performance - second place finisher Tim Mylin, of Carmel, Ind. was almost two minutes back - to his father, Andy, who was hospitalized as he battled cancer. "I wanted to do it for him," said Romesser. "He has cancer and he hangs tough. I just wanted to be as tough as he is." Chris Cooper had hoped to stay with the leaders and hold on for a top 10 finish in the women’s race. Instead, the Ossian, Ind. woman found everyone behind her at the finish, winning in 1:21:17. "My very minimum was top ten," said Cooper afterward. "Realistically, I hoped for top five. Winning was a dream - way out there!" New York City Marathon race director Fred Lebow ran as a guest of event organizers 500 Festival Associates, finishing in about 2:40. Lebow had been receiving cancer treatment and had not run a race of this distance in 16 months. "I wanted to just run the last two miles on the track, but I didn’t want to ask," said Lebow. "I started and planned to drop out, but I just jogged at a 12-minute pace and just kept going."

Rookie Andy Herr was somewhat unheralded to anyone who had not run against him. But defending champion Gary Romesser had seen nothing but Herr’s back in a race the previous month and was not surprised when the Indiana University graduate student won in his first attempt in the Mini-Marathon. Herr, a former Athletic Coast Conference star for North Carolina State, finished ahead of the 11,000-plus participants in 1:07:44, with 1989 runner-up Bob Stolz, of Eugene, Ore., second in 1:08:25. Having run the in U.S. Olympic Marathon trials last month, Stolz could not keep up as Herr pulled away just after the 9-mile mark. Romesser had been hampered by an ankle injury was not certain he would compete. He said he was happy to finish fifth in 1:09:34. In the women’s race, 1991 runner-up Becky Reinhold, of Lexington, Ky. caught Karlene Erikson-Harrell, of Peru, Ind. in the fourth turn of the Speedway to win in 1:20:30. Reinhold came off a 2:54 marathon in Pittsburgh earlier in the month. Butch Martin, of Fishers, Ind. won the wheelchair title with a time of 54:30.

The decisions stirred more controversy among local running traditionalists than the course length discrepancies, lack of aid stations and wrong directions given to the leaders in the Mini-Marathon’s early days. In spite of being accused of tampering with tradition, race organizers forged ahead with two dramatic changes for this year: a new race date, May 7, not the customary Friday before the "500," and a change of course, with the finish downtown and not the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You couldn’t tell by looking at the number of entries - 14,500, an increase of more than 3,000 from last year. The race became more international in makeup, a fact borne out by the dominance of Joseph Kaino, of Kenya, who won in 1:03:10, beating Eddy Hellebuycke, of Leopoldsburg, Belgium, by nearly two minutes. Trina Painter, of Austin, Tex., blistered the course in a record time of 1:12:19, one minute ahead of Kenyan Esther Kiplagat. The new course was flatter and faster, using only slightly more than the first mile of the original course up Meridian Street before turning west toward the Speedway. This year, runners traversed the racetrack approximately from miles 5 and 7 before heading back downtown. They finished near Obelisk Square, where they enjoyed more food and music as amenities. Indianapolis Life started a long-time sponsorship of the Mini-Marathon, adding more than just financial support: more than half of the company’s workers were involved in some aspect of the race.

When John Kipkoskei arrived for the start of the Mini-Marathon, he may have wished for the warmth of Albuquerque, New Mex., where he had moved from Kenya to train the month before, or even his native land. Kipkoskei, entering his first big race in the United States, and the other nearly 14,800 runners stood before the start in a steady rain with a temperature of 50 degrees. The showers may have stopped right before the start, but the spirits of Delmir Dos Santos, of San Diego, were later dampened as he helplessly watched Kipkoskei run the 12th mile of the race in 4:42 to pull away and win in 1:03:14. Kipkoskei earned $5,000 for his victory, as did Roseli Machado, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who won the women’s overall title in 1:13:42. Belgian Eddy Hellebuycke, runner-up last year, tied for fifth - a remarkable performance considering he had run seven races in five countries in March and followed that with two marathons in April. James Fouts, of Seymour, Ind., captured the wheelchair title in 1:02:01. Carmel High School coach Tim Mylin ran 1:07:16 and was the first Indiana finisher.

Race conditions - 53 degrees with cloud cover and little wind - were perfect for speed and it showed when Englishman Peter Whitehead carried a record pace through the first nine miles. Right behind him were two-time, Ecuadorian Olympian Ronaldo Vera, Kenyan Joseph Kamau and his fellow countryman, John Kipkoskei, last year’s champion. Vera was laboring as the runners exited the Speedway, but he stayed focused and within two miles had pulled even with the leaders. Showing his Olympic talent, he discouraged Kamau, Whitehead and Kipkoskei by blistering miles 11 and 12 at a daunting 4:30 pace. Vera finished in 1:02:07 - 63 seconds better than Joseph Kaino’s 1993 course record. In fact, the first four finishers bettered Kaino’s mark. Forty-year-old Tatyana Pozdnyakova, of the Ukraine, was the first woman across the line, and even though she was not a U.S. citizen, her time was 22 seconds better than the American master’s record. It was a bittersweet return to Indianapolis for Pozdnyakova: While in town for the United States-Soviet track and field meet in 1982, she became enamored with a teammate named Alexander, who later became her husband and coach. Former champion Butch Martin returned to the top of the wheelchair standings, winning in 51:57. Five-time winner Gary Romesser captured the masters title by finishing 12th overall in 1:07:31.

The Mini-Marathon continued the swing of the pendulum from being mostly a hometown race to one of national and international prominence. Hoosier runners would agree that they were having to work to stay in the top ten in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Andrew Masai, Kenya’s sixth ranked marathoner, quickly established himself as the man to beat by blistering the first three miles at a 4:32 pace. With no one to challenge, Masai ran the final 10 miles alone and won in 1:02:57. "After five miles, I felt OK," he said afterward. "I looked back and there was nobody." Last year’s third place finisher, Peter Whitehead, of England, came in more than a minute behind Masai. The women’s race was a two-way battle, with Russia’s 1992 Olympic marathon champion Valentina Yegorova and 1995 Mini-Marathon winner Tatyana Pozdnyakova running elbow to elbow through 10 miles. Yegorova surged shortly thereafter, leaving Pozdnyakova to settle for second. Yegorova won $5,000 for winning in 1:13:00. The field of 16,700 welcomed back 1978 winner Bill Rodgers for a masters showdown with five-time winner Gary Romesser. Romesser made it six masters titles, winning the dual in 1:09, one minute ahead of Rodgers. "I was gunning for him," said Rodgers, "but he nailed me." The men’s wheelchair race came down to the wire with Junior Rice, of Elizabethtown, Ky., beating Brian Peachey, of Fleetwood, Penn., to the finish by four seconds. Rice’s time was 57:01. Holly Koester, of Berea, Ohio, won the women’s wheelchair race in 1:30:55.

This was the year the over-40 crowd gave the youngsters a run for their money. Race title sponsor Indianapolis Life established its national masters circuit for runners 40 and over, and with points in the standings tripled for the race, the Mini-Marathon became an important stop on the tour. Patrick Kiptum’s course record of 1:01:56 was rivaled by the performances of Steve Plasencia, Craig Young and Jane Welzel. Minnesotan Plasencia, 40, broke the American master’s half-marathon record by 27 seconds, finishing seventh overall in 1:05:33. Young, a Colorado Springs woodcarver, held on to the masters series points lead by finishing ninth overall in 1:07:46. At 42, Welzel, also from Colorado Springs, ran a remarkable 1:14:32. She finished second to back-to-back women’s winner, Valentina Yegerova, who crossed the line in 1:13:50. Butch Martin again captured the wheelchair race with a time of 51:53. Ruth Nunez won the women’s wheelchair title, finishing in 1:02:22. A record 19,679 participants were in the field of the nation’s largest half-marathon.

For a city that was once called India-no-place, and was known as somewhere people always traveled through but never stopped, the Hoosier capital suddenly was attracting lots of Kenyans the first Friday in May. The Africans swept the first four overall places, led by Joseph Kariuki, who was second last year to Patrick Kiptum. Like Kiptum the year before, Kariuki led at the 3-mile mark and was never challenged. He had skipped an opportunity to run elsewhere because he liked the Indianapolis race. "I have never run a race that was organized like this one," he said. "The people here are very good." Kenya’s Olympic marathoner, Salina Chirchir, won the women’s race in 1:14:32, one minute ahead of Kelly Keeler, of Fairfield, Ohio. With USA Track & Field designating the Mini-Marathon as its national masters championship and the race as part of the Indy Life Circuit for masters, over-40 runners had begun to flock to Indianapolis. The story of the day was Steve Plasencia’s 1:05:30, which broke the American masters record he set in the race in 1997. Plasencia was sixth overall, just nine seconds ahead of his masters rival, Craig Young, of Colorado Springs. Butch Martin, seeking to follow up last year’s wheelchair win, was eliminated only 200 meters into the race when a policeman braked suddenly and Martin crashed into the back of the motorcycle. Martin suffered a gash to the head and was treated at a local hospital. Tracey Ferguson, a University of Illinois student from Toronto, squeezed between Martin and the motorcycle on her way to the women’s wheelchair title with a time of 1:02:45. She blew a tire and pushed the last four miles on the rim. Souleymane Marzouk, of Wilder, Vt., was involved in Martin’s accident, but continued on to win the men’s wheelchair race in 56:26. The race attracted 22,030 registered runners, walkers and wheelchair participants.

A second dramatic change of course in Mini history was made when the starting line was moved south from Monument Circle and participants now finished at Military Park. To ease congestion, a dual start was instituted with runners and walkers lining up on Washington and Maryland streets and heading west past the Indianapolis Zoo. Forty-year-old John Tuttle was the story of the day as he broke Steve Plasencia’s year-old masters record by 22 seconds. The 1984 Olympic marathoner finished fifth overall in 1:05:11, missing an American masters record by 10 seconds. It had helped that he stayed with the lead pack of Kenyan runners in the first half of the race, joking that he attempted to follow their "jet stream." Daniel Kihara and John Kariuki surged away at the Speedway, with Kihara tucking in behind and drafting Kariuki. Kihara used his leg speed to surge ahead in the last 400 meters, finishing in 1:03:48. He was the fourth different Kenyan winner in as many years. Kariuki crossed in 1:03:54, with Patrick Kiptum, the course record holder from 1997, third in 1:04:56. Russia’s Ludmila Petrova blew kisses to the crowd as she crossed the finish line to win in 1:14:12. She said through a translator that the Mini was a good training run after Boston, where she ran a personal best of 2:29.13 three weeks before. There were 22,455 entrants, a record, whose finish times were recorded for the first time using the Championship Chip. Participants found an expanded expo/packet pickup in the Pan Am Plaza’s ice rink.

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Race morning arrived with extremely hot and humid conditions, leading race officials to issue a safety warning to participants. And while about 150 people in the field of 22,977 were treated for heat-related problems, the conditions did not seem to faze Lidia Grigoryeva, of Russia, who missed breaking the seven-year-old course record by 5 seconds. Still, Grigoryeva’s time of 1:12:23 earned her first place prize money of $2,500. She was nearly 5 minutes head of Veronica Kanga of Kenya. Philip Kemei surged late in the race and became the fifth different Kenyan to win in as many years. Kemei clocked a 1:04:19, followed by Simon Sawe in 1:04:25 and 1999 runner-up John Kariuki third in 1:04:42. Kenyans swept the top eight places. Tony Iniguez and Miriam Nibley both set course records in the wheelchair race. Iniguez, of Aurora, Ill., broke the course mark by 5½ minutes with a 42:29. Nibley, of Provo, Utah, eclipsed her own record by nearly 9 minutes with a 53:17. Despite the heat, Nibley said racing in the Mini was easier than the final exam she took the day before at the University of Illinois. Participants were treated to the addition of the Championship Pasta Dinner on race eve. Speaking was Indiana University’s All-American and U.S. elite distance runner, Bob Kennedy. The inaugural 5K run/walk saw 2,402 participants.

A new race record and a record number of participants marked the silver anniversary running of the Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Organizers moved the starting time back to 8 a.m. to avoid problems with the heat, a change that proved beneficial to the participants. Elena Paramonova, of Rockville, Md., won in 1:11:36, breaking the previous women’s race record of 1:12:19, set in 1993. In honor of the 25th running, title sponsor Indianapolis Life awarded the 38-year-old Paramonova $2,500 for breaking the Mini-Marathon record. The men’s race was one of the closest in history as Kenyan Simon Rono crossed the finish in 1:02:36, just 9 seconds ahead of countryman Wilson Musto. Rono ran the last 5K in a blazing 14:49. The first six finishers were still running in a tight pack at 10 miles. Five-time winner Gary Romesser won the Master’s Division with a 1:11:09, setting an American age 50 record. The Mini-Marathon solidified its claim to being the largest half-marathon in America as the field grew to 23,455 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes. The competition was also the 2001 USATF National Masters Half Marathon Championship Race. To celebrate the silver anniversary running of the Mini, 13 individuals who had participated in every race were recognized as members of the 25 Club. In moves toward becoming even more participant-friendly, the race exposition/packet pickup was moved to the Indianapolis Convention Center, a Runners' Services Area was added to the finish line amenities, and a post-race party was offered at World Mardis Gras in Circle Centre Mall.

Kenyans dominated the 26th running of the Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, led by Gabriel Muchiri, whose 1:01:54 eclipsed the course record by two seconds. His countrymen swept the first 11 places, with the top eight breaking 1:05. Kenyan Jackline Torori fought the wind and lack of competition to win the women’s title in 1:15:14 - well off her personal best of 1:11:23 and the course record of 1:11:34. Muchiri and Torori both collected $3,000 for their wins. Muchiri had arrived from a visit to his homeland late the night before the race. He ran with a pack of 6 Kenyans, but surged at 8 miles on the track of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was never challenged. It was the seventh win in a row by Kenyans. Westfield High School teacher and coach Scott Lidskin was the first Indiana runner across the line, finishing 18th overall in 1:10:55. Butch Martin of Fishers, Ind. captured the men’s wheelchair title for a record 13th time. Top-ranked Masters Gary Romesser, 51, ran 1:11:50 to follow up last year’s title. He is a five-time overall winner of the race. A record field of 25,000, with an early sell-out date of March 25, was entered, making the event the largest half marathon in the nation. To accommodate the race’s continued growth, all participants for the first time were assigned to corrals. Finishers ranged in age from 4 to 81.

Once again, the entries for 25,000 participants sold out even earlier than 2002 on Feb. 11. The 5K reached its capacity of 3,000 on March 5. You wouldn’t have known by watching Albina Ivanova cruise to a new course record in the 2003 Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini-Marathon that she had run on Patriot’s Day in Boston only two weeks before. On her toes and arms pumping, the 25-year-old Russian had the crowd along the final Victory Mile cheering for her to break the two-year-old mark. Ivanova added her name to the record book by 12 seconds, finishing in 1:11:24. Afterward she admitted - through friend, translator and two-time Mini champ Valentina Yegerova - that she had been unaware of the race record. The media called Joseph Kariuki "a pacesetter" early in the Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. It was a name for which he was suited as the 33-year-old Kenyan did indeed set the pace to make it eight straight wins for his country in a tactical running of the 27th edition of nation’s largest half-marathon. Kariuki, also the 1998 winner, denied runner-up Gabriel Muchiri the opportunity to repeat his 2002 victory and the prize money as a nice present for his countryman’s 25th birthday. He gradually extended his lead and picked up the pace one last time in the final mile to win by 25 seconds. The father of two became a two-time winner and took home $3,000 in prize money.

This year was one of many changes for the 28th running of the Mini-Marathon. Announcement of a new course, the return of a single start line, a new starting location at West and Washington Streets, and a full lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway preceded yet another sell-out of 25,000. However, race officials expanded the field to 30,000 - selling out in just two days on Jan. 3. Reuben Chebii, a 21-year-old Kenyan, dominated the 28th Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, a race that was red-flagged due to humid weather conditions. Chebii extended his countrymen’s string of victories in the race to nine with a time of 1:04:56 - two minutes off the course record. Kenyans have won 11 of the past dozen editions of the nation’s largest half-marathon. Albina Ivanova of Russia repeated as women’s champion in 1:12:36, making her the first female to capture back-to-back titles in seven years. The last repeat winner was fellow Russian Valentina Yegorova in 1996-1997. Ronald Mogaka finished second in 1:05:33. Dennis Henry, of Cincinnati, the 2003 USATF 5-kilometer road race champion, was the first American to cross the line. He finished in 1:06:24, eight seconds in front of Lithuania’s Mindaugas Pukstas. Participating in his first Mini, former All-American distance runner Donnie Fellows was the top Hoosier, finishing in 1:06:45. The race record for Hoosiers of 1:05:52, set in 1983 by winner Gary Romesser, remains as one of the Mini’s oldest marks. On the women’s side, Albina Ivanova stuck to her strategy of being patient that resulted in her second consecutive win in 1:12:36. Runner up in the women’s division was Olga Kovpotina, who finished second in 1:13:07. Emily Samoei was third in 1:14:03, with Naomi Wangui finishing fourth in 1:14:34.

This year the race to enter the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon set another record. All 30,000 spots were claimed by Dec. 13. The 500 Festival also offered a transfer system, allowing entrants who changed their minds about racing to transfer their number to another person. The overall winner was Wesley Ochoro of Kenya. When he was growing up in Kenya, Wesley Ochoro ran six miles to school every morning. Kenyans also took the next five places, with John Itati, 2004 Azalea Trail 10K winner, second, in 1:13:54; Daniel Cheruiyot, winner of the Arizona Distance Classic in March, third, in 1:04:05; defending race champion Reuben Chebii, fourth, in 1:04:17; Joseah Matui, who last year won half-marathons in Chicago and San Diego, fifth, in 1:04:33; and former winner and crowd favorite Joseph Kariuki, sixth, in 1:05:17. Albina Ivanova of Russia won the women’s division for the third straight year. Former Michigan State runner Kyle Baker, who grew up in Anderson, Ind., was the top American finisher, finishing seventh in 1:06:06. The Team Challenge drew dozens of teams, including one named Tortured Soles.

The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon celebrated its 30 th running this year. The 500 Festival increased the Mini-Marathon field to 35,000 participants and sold-out by Dec. 2. In a year celebrating the 30 th anniversary of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the community’s embracing of the event, it was fitting that Lucie Mays-Sulewski became the first local winner in 14 years. In fact, the top 10 finishers in the women’s race were Hoosiers. The race became one of several surges, including a final one with about three miles to go, when Kenyan Ben Kimondiu pulled away from countryman Daniel Cheruiyot to win in 1:03:22. It was the 11 th Kenyan victory in a row in the nation’s largest half marathon. The wheelchair athletes provided the most drama of the day, with the men’s race a dual between coach and student, and the women’s champion recovering from a crash less than two miles from the finish. Facing a northwest headwind, training partners and University of Illinois club teammates Adam Bleakney and Joshua George took turns drafting nearly the entire distance. Bleakney, who coaches George, pulled alongside his pupil, and with a final thrust edged him out by less than one second at the tape. The 2005 runner-up, Bleakney, finished in 49:22, far off the course record. Jeff Fisher, of Medina, Ohio, was third in 52:30.

The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon sold-out in record time this year on November 27. This race is the largest half-marathon and ranked as the 7 th largest road race in the United States. It was listed as one of “A Half Dozen Hot Halfs”, based on participants experience in the 13.1-mile half-marathon and is the 18 th largest road race in the world! Sprinting to the finish was Joseph Chirlee – a Kenyan native now based out of Acworth, Ga., edging out Albuquerque, New Mexico's Daniel Cheruiyot by nine seconds in the 13.1-mile race. Scott Overall of Indianapolis, a Butler University graduate, took third with a time of 1:04:43. Bloomington, Ind., resident Stephen Haas was fifth, Abdelaziz Atmani of Indianapolis was sixth, and Indianapolis resident John Ngigi took ninth. Janet Cherobon of Norcross, Ga., won the women’s race by edging out Santa Fe, New Mexico's Rebecca Tallam by two seconds. Cherobon, a 28-year-old preschool teacher, knows something about success in distance running. She was a eight-time NCAA Division II All-American at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., where she won national championships in the 5,000-meter outdoor, the 5,000-meter outdoor and 10,000-meter outdoor. She won the Mini-Marathon in a sprint to the finish. Tony Iniguez won the wheelchair division with a time of 47:23. The Bolingbrook, Ill., resident previously won the Mini-Marathon in 2000 and has competed in the event four times.

It couldn’t have gotten any closer in the men’s race at the 32nd running of the 2008 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Kenyans Lamech Mokono and Valentine Orare were neck-in-neck at the finish of the 13.1-mile race – so neck-in-neck that race officials had to review the videotape and still photographs before determining a clear-cut winner. It was decided that both men were declared winners and would each get the full first-place prize. The pair ran the course in 1:02.53. It was a day of firsts. In addition to being the only first-place tie since the race’s inception in 1977, it was the first Mini-Marathon. In the women’s race, defending champ Janet Cherobon made it two wins in a row, taking the championship in 1:14.53. Tony Iniguez became a three-time champ in the wheelchair division, finishing in just over 47 minutes in blistering the rest of the field. Conditions were ideal, according to many race participants. Temperatures hovered in the mid- to high-50s, and while the humidity was more than 80 percent, runners never considered it a factor. "It was almost perfect out today," Mokono said. "It wasn’t too hot, and the (humidity) wasn’t too bad. It was a good day to run."

With temperatures barely hovering above 50 degrees and sunshine mixing with overcast skies, the conditions could not have been any better during the 2009 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. But it didn’t appear inclement weather or much of anything else could have removed the smile from Janet Cherobon’s face following the race.The 30-year-old Cherobon made it three straight Mini-Marathon wins in a row, and did so in impressive fashion. She dominated the women’s race, winning in a personal-best time of 1:12.22 – more than two and a half minutes in front of second-place Anzhelika Averkova, a Ukraine native.

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A pair of familiar faces sprinted to the finish to win the men’s and women’s races in the 2010 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. Janet Cherobon made it four wins by edging out Belainesh Zemedkun near the finish, while Festus Langat won his second straight OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon by pulling away from a three-man race down the stretch.


A pair of newcomers shook off any rookie jitters and brought home the men’s and women’s titles in the 2011 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. Moroccan Ridouane Harroufi took the men’s race, winning in 1:02.45, while Everlyne Lagat of Kenya captured the women’s race with a time of 1:11:29, snapping the four-year win streak of fellow Kenyan Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, who took second. Adam Bleakney of Champaign, Ill., took advantage of the ideal conditions to win the wheelchair race with a blistering time of: 49.18. The 2006 winner of the same race, Bleakney, a member of the 2008 U.S. Paralympics teams, was competing in Indianapolis for the first time since his previous win.


Extremely humid conditions didn’t deter two dominating performances from runners from the same training club during the 2012 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. Kenyan natives George Towett (1:05:08) and Lilian Mariita (1:15:23) – who both train in the L.M. Elite Running Club in Hebron, Ky., captured the men’s and women’s races, respectively. In the wheelchair race, 27-year-old Joshua George edged out Adam Bleakney at the finish line (47:45). George, a Virginia native, trains at the University of Illinois – under the tutelage of Bleakney, last year’s wheelchair division winner and also the winner of the 2006 race. Brownsburg’s Ben Hendricks, age 18, won the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K Race (16:43).


A newcomer and a relative newcomer were the class of the field during Saturday’s 2013 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis. Ethiopian Alene Reta (1:03.57), who was running in just his second Mini-Marathon was the overall winner, and Kenyan Sarah Kiptoo (1:12.24), who trains in Santa Fe, N.M., captured the women’s race in impressive fashion. In the wheelchair race, 49-year-old Krige Schabort of Cedartown, Ga., pulled away down the stretch to win in 45:57. Brownsburg’s Ben Hendricks, 19, won the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K Race for the second-straight year (16:14).