USA Road Championships Return to Grand Blue Mile
Annual April event, part of historic Drake Relays, offers $25,000 national championship prize purse with $5000 for USA champion
From Drake Relays
DES MOINES, Iowa – Grand Blue Mile (GBM) officials from Wellmark and the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee announced the USA Track & Field 1 Mile Road Championships will be returning as part of the annual Grand Blue Mile in 2017 and 2018. The addition of the prestigious national championship further elevates the elite-level competition of Grand Blue Mile and is expected to attract several 2016 Olympians from across the country to vie for a national title and share of the $25,000 championship purse. The Grand Blue Mile also hosted the 2013 and 2014 USA 1 Mile Road Championships.
"We are honored to welcome back the USA 1 Mile Road Championships to the Midwest's premier community street run," said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark corporate sponsorship manager. "The Grand Blue Mile has gained notoriety over the past seven years as one of the best races in the nation because of its appeal to runners of all ages and abilities. Hosting these championships on the heels of USA Track & Field's historic showing in Rio brings a national focus to the overall goal of Grand Blue Mile — encouraging healthy habits and empowering positive change."
In 2014, more than 25 American track & field stars competed for the national title at GBM. Leo Manzano, 2012 Olympic 1500m silver medalist, won the men's championship with a time of 4:05.71. The women's championship was captured by Heather Kampf, who set a course record of 4:32.62. She followed that performance with consecutive GBM Invitational Championship titles in 2015 and 2016, becoming the event's first competitor to successfully three-peat.
Coming off the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the 2017 GBM has the potential to see several medalists and finalists return to Des Moines. A few of the 2016 Olympians who have participated in past GBMs include:
• Matthew Centrowitz – Gold medalist in the 1500m and 2015 GBM Invitational champion
• Bernard Lagat – 5th place finish in the 5000m
• Nate Brannen – 10th place finish in the 5000m
• Shannon Rowbury – 4th place finish in the 1500m
• Kate Grace – 8th place finish in the 800m and 2013 USA 1 Mile champion (Grand Blue Mile)
"Now in its eighth running, the Grand Blue Mile continues to captivate the national track and field community, while providing an unparalleled Drake Relays experience for thousands of central Iowans," said Blake Boldon, Drake Relays director. "We're thankful to Wellmark for their visionary partnership in helping develop this special tradition."
Last year's GBM drew more than 4,200 registrants who participated among the elite, competitive, recreational run/walk and corporate team categories. The Mile course loops through the streets of downtown Des Moines, finishing in Des Moines Western Gateway. Registration for the 2017 Grand Blue Mile, which takes place on Tuesday, April 25, opens in February.
For more information, visit: GrandBlueMile.com