500 Festival Mini Marathon entries still open


One of the biggest draws for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon  is the chance to run around the famed two-and-half mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 13.1 mile and 5K race, billed as the nation's largest half marathon, is the kickoff for the month of May. And that's one of the reasons it has sold out the past 11 years.

But that's not the case today.

According to 500 festival spokesperson Megan Bulla, there are still "a few thousand" spots available for this year's race.

That's the best estimate she could give, she says, because they receive hundreds of registrations each day.

In recent years, the race would have reached it's 35,000 entry capacity by now.  In some cases, races filled before the new year.

So it does beg the question whether it will sell out this year. To which Bulla answers, "To date, to us, it doesn't matter as much as long as we do sell out, which we're confident we will."

But what is slowing the field for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon?

One answer may be the addition of other local races.

The Carmel Half Marathon is in its third year. It's set for two weeks before the Mini.

The Geist Half Marathon takes place two weeks after the Mini.

And there are other regional half-marathons that compete, like the popular Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville; and the Flying Pig race in Cincinnati.

Bulla and 500 Festival organizers believe those races only add to the interest. "There are definitely a number of races that have popped up in the last couple years," she said, "but overall that really creates more runners in the area that maybe they wouldn't sign up for the Mini this year, but next year (would) take that challenge. Overall we want more people to take up the sport."

The 500 Festival organizers say with "absolute certainty" they will sell out again this year.

Even if they don't, this race will still be billed as the "nation's largest" - beating the competition by about 10,000 runners.

500 Festival Mini Marathon training begins Saturday.

Find out why other runners are taking this year off.@