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Indy Mini Marathon Race Review

The Indy Mini Marathon is reportedly one of the largest half marathons in the country and it certainly lived up to its reputation. There were well over 35,000 runners packed into starting corrals that stretched nearly a mile indy-mini-startlong. The race expo was bigger than many marathons I’ve participated in. And there were hundreds of volunteers. If you’ve never done a big marathon and want a taste of what it’s like (without all the training), the Indy Mini marathon is a great choice. But like all big races, you have to register early. This thing sells out months before race day.

The race is run on a Saturday, so my wife and I drove to Indy the day before. It was a good plan since it allowed us to spend some time at the expo, see a little bit of downtown Indianapolis, and have a steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. It turns out there isn’t much in downtown Indianapolis beyond the mall.

The Race

The hotel wake-up call came at 6:30 am. Of course, I had been up for nearly an hour so it was unnecessary. But you can never be sure. I dressed in my gear laid out the night before and thought, “I really need a new joggling shirt.” The red one I wore was from 2005. No amount of washing removes the sweaty odor.

The start was a 5 minute walk from my hotel; excellent planning on Shannon’s part. I made my way to the H corral around 7:10 am and parked myself on the right side.

When joggling, it’s always advisable to stay off to one side, especially in crowded races.

I spent the next 20 minutes juggling, chatting with the runners around me and dodging beach balls. A tradition at the Indy Mini marathon is for the runners to hit beach balls around the crowd.

When the race started, our corral walked forward. Unfortunately, I had no previous time so I was in a corral with 2:20 racers. This did not bode well for my race time as I’d be expending a lot of energy passing people. After 10 minutes, we squeezed our way through the narrow starting gate and were off.

First half of the half

The first mile involved lots of bobbing and weaving. I joggled over curbs, indy-mini-routethrough packs of runners, and around pot holes. It wasn’t simple to stay off to one side because there were lots of walkers or slower runners. The road clock read 19:05 when I passed mile one. This is the problem with starting around runners that are significantly slower. If you care at all about your time, be sure to get as far to the front of the race at the start as you can.

Remember, it’s better to be passed than to be passing.

The next few miles remained crowded but it steadily thinned. The race route took us through the northwest side of Indianapolis. There weren’t many people out cheering which surprised me since 35,000 runners were doing the race. In the Chicago marathon, the crowds watching are huge! Later someone told me it was the poorer side of Indy and people are reluctant to go down there. Fortunately, I got lots of encouragement from the other runners who were intrigued/amused by the joggling.

My only drop happened just after the 5 mile mark. There was no good reason for the drop. I looked into the crowd for a split second and when I looked back, two bean bags were colliding just above my left hand. I caught one but the other tumbled to the ground. I quickly picked it up and wondered why I didn’t drop more often since I look away all the time. Still haven’t figured it out.

Around the Indy track

The Indy 500 track is the 6th, 7th, and 8th miles of the mini marathon. It’s great because there are crowds of spectators cheering you into the stadium. You enter by going down a steep hill and then up a steep hill. The up hill was tough! Inside the stadium you cross through a driveway, pass a group of peppy cheerleaders and onto the asphalt track. The course was packed with runners, and if observed from one of the many hot air balloons that floated over head it must’ve looked like a parade of ants each carrying cupcake sprinkles.

I hammed it up in this race. At some of the mile clocks, I would throw a bean bag up over the clock while passing. When there were little kids holding their hands out, I would do a high throw, give them a high five, and catch the falling bag before it hit the ground. I also did so much winking and cheesy smiling that my face hurt by the end of the race. It was really quite embarrassing now that I think about it.

Race Finish

As we left the track, some twentysomething kid passed me and I got a bit indy-mini-finishirritated. “You should be able to stay with that guy!” I thought. So, I marked him as one to follow. The plan was to stick just behind him until right at the finish, and then pass him. And it mostly worked.

I was close on his heals as we passed the water stop outside the stadium. Stayed with him as we passed the smelly oil refinery. Remained just off his shoulder passed mile 10. Then he slowed down and I took the lead. I felt great! Never had a half marathon felt so pleasant.

Perhaps starting slow and getting faster is a better way to run.

Unfortunately, he went ahead of me in the last half mile and I couldn’t catch up.

In the final mile the big crowds were back and I looked for my wife. Unfortunately, I didn’t see her. She was watching on the right side, I was joggling on the left. She was also looking for a blue shirt, I was wearing red. You wouldn’t think it would be, but finding a joggler in a see of runners is sometimes difficult.

I crossed the finish when the clock said 1:49:35. My watch read 1:38:55. But somehow my official time was 1:39:00. No matter, I was not completely dissatisfied with my time. This wasn’t my fasted half marathon but it was quicker than most others and considering the crowded start, I did pretty well.

Race wrap-up

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Indy Mini Marathon and might do it again. It’s only a 3 hour drive and the race organization is excellent. Very joggler friendly!

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. We saw you over to our right in corral H before the start…I tried to point your juggling out to my son, but by the time he figured out what I was talking about, you had stopped for the moment. Great job running that kind of time while juggling…I’m impressed!

  2. Nice write-up Perry!

    Do you find it hard to switch gears while joggling (like when trying to out-kick another runner)? There are two types of situations that I have found make me likely to drop, or at least lose my form quite a bit. One is when I have to jump over a curb or run downhill at at a fast pace (that led to a drop in my 5km a couple years back) and the other is when I’m trying to kick or adjust my pace (that led to a drop in a 200m race back in my sprint days). I find it really hard to change speeds since I need to change the cadence of my arms, which means I need to change the cadence of the juggling, which I find tough when I’m running. That ever happen to you?


  3. @Travis

    Just focus on running, the juggling speed will adapt to the speed of your running, not the other way around. Throw a little higher when going on a curb or down a hill, is a tip. I dropped my first ball in the marathon on mile 22 down a hill, mainly because my finger caught my flapping bib which I placed as low as possible for this very reason. Thought I would chime in and offer my thoughts on this topic.

  4. Thanks for the tips Joe! I’ve only dropped twice while joggling in races, but they both ended up costing me the time I was hoping for, so I’d really like to avoid them if I joggle any races in the future.


  5. You’re welcome, Travis. Practice and experience, helped me relax and have a good time during my marathon. Which decreased the amount of drops for me. I was more worried about what to do at water stops with gels and stuff, than how dropping would affect my time. Both water stations and drops didn’t seem to affect my time very much.

  6. Do you juggle 2-in-1-hand at the water stations? I’ve never joggled longer than 5km, and I don’t plan to anytime soon, but I’ve always been curious how the water stations work.

  7. No, I don’t. I just stop and drink, holding the props in my left hand while I drink with my right, then you keep joggling. I put the props down and pop open a energy gel about 5-6 times during a marathon at water stops. No need to juggled during water stops, unless you really want to. Marathons are great to joggle; I will do at least a 50 miler some day too, maybe more.

  8. Sometimes I find it tricky to go from a regular running speed to a sprint. This is most often responsible for my drops. Joe is right, when jumping over a curb you just have to throw it a little higher. When you’re going to go faster, you have to throw them a little further in front of you.

    I had a bib-drop too during the Toronto Marathon. I’ve had some success attaching the bib to my shorts instead of my shirt.

    I also stop at the water stops, drink and then start joggling again. The rules of joggling are that you can’t advance without juggling. You can stop any time really, you just cant go forward.

  9. Yeah, next time I’m attaching the bib on the back of my shirt or on my shorts to prevent any unecessary joggling “bib malfunctions.” is great way to go if you have the money and they offer your race, that way you don’t have to mess with the tedious bib at all.

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