CLIVE, Iowa — The Drake Relays were supposed to be in full swing this week with athletes from across the country coming to Des Moines to compete on the blue oval, but due to the coronavirus, it is canceled. The spirit of the relays is alive and well, though.
One Des Moines metro family is commemorating the Drake Relays and the Grand Blue Mile by running as a family this week. The Treichels were looking forward to competing once again in Wellmark’s Grand Blue Mile after they say it was that race that really kickstarted their journey to wellness.
“I think it kicked off with the Grand Blue Mile and all of us being able to do that together, and how much we enjoyed that activity. Wanting to have a healthier lifestyle is something that’s important for us, so from there we just continued that path,” Marcia Treichel said.
“[The] Grand Blue Mile is just a great thing where anyone can get involved. You don’t need any special equipment. Anyone can get out there and do it. You just need a pair of sneakers and you are on your way,” Jeremy Treichel said.
The Treichels got involved with the Grand Blue Mile after their fifth-grader Samantha found interest in running at school. Not runners previously, parents Jeremy and Marcia said this event was perfect for their whole family to achieve.
“My favorite part about running is probably just getting a good time on it. I’m kind of competitive sometimes so I just like to beat my brother and see my time compared to his,” Samantha said.
They were practicing to run in the race again, this time with their dog, Peanut, by their sides until it got canceled. But that didn’t slow them down. They are continuing to train and commemorating the event by running own their own.
Race Director Chris Verlengia with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield said this family’s determination to still compete and continue to create positive change despite the cancellation is exactly what the Grand Blue Mile is all about.
“This really just typifies what the Grand Blue Mile is all about and why Wellmark and the Drake Relays put the event together in the first place. It really is that first step of a lifetime well-being journey and we have thousands of stories that we’ve helped launch over the past decade,” Verlengia said.
This year there were supposed to be over 4,000 participants in the Grand Blue Mile. Race organizers said they are still hopeful they can make up the mile race at some point this year.
You can help celebrate the Drake Relays by either walking or running your own Grand Blue Mile or even creating your own relays in your back yard. Organizers are asking to share those moments on social media using the hashtags #GrandBlueMile and #MyDrakeRelays.