Celebrating Indy through running and revelry
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photos provided by Run(317)
This year’s RUN(317) event is much more than just a series of mini-marathons for locals to get a little exercise. According to Jeff Graves, owner of Vision Event Management and organizer of the event, it’s a way for Indy residents to get more closely connected to their surroundings and celebrate the city’s unique neighborhoods, bars and restaurants.
Graves launched RUN(317) four years ago and says the event has grown markedly each year, currently consisting of five Thursday evening races in separate Indy neighborhoods, starting in May, that feature music and free beverages at the finish line. Each race is partnered with a local charity, and the event has raised almost $47,000 since 2014. This year’s local charities include Partners in Housing, Energy Krazed, School on Wheels, Kids’ Voice of Indiana and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.
“The nice thing about our event is that it’s for all abilities and it’s all about having a good time,” says Graves, former executive director of the Indy Mini Marathon. “We get tons of walkers and first-timers. We take people through neighborhoods that they had no idea about and have never been to. We want to celebrate the places and charities that are unique to Indianapolis.”
Even the distance of each race is a tribute to Indy, at exactly 3.17 miles.
Graves started small in the event’s first year, holding a single race in Fountain Square and raising money for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. More than 900 people showed up, and by the time the following year rolled around he’d added two additional races in the Broad Ripple and Mass Ave districts. Carmel Arts & Design District and Monument Circle races were added in 2016, and this year’s five races are spread throughout the summer and early fall.
Individuals can sign up for single races, a three-race mini-series or all five races, and those who register for either of the latter receive a free limited edition pullover shirt. Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. is the 2018 title sponsor, and this year Graves enlisted Athletic Annex and Brooks Sports, Inc. to host a V.I.P. area for each race.
“Everybody gets two free beers after the race and a commemorative medal and a lot of times it turns into a dance party on the street,” says Graves, a Ball State grad who launched Vision Event Management in 2006 and specializes in planning and logistics for running events of all sizes. “The participants absolutely love the event and they’re so passionate about it because it’s celebrating the 317 area code.”
RUN(317) has sold out every year since it began, and while Graves has received massive interest in expanding the event further, he feels five races spread throughout the city provides plenty of variety for Indy residents.
“We picked Thursday nights because it’s kind of a kick-off to the weekend,” he adds. “And for first-time marathon runners, it’s a great way to get introduced to running or walking and have a tour of the different unique neighborhoods of the city at the same time.”
While RUN(317) races are generally geared toward those over 21, Graves says he’s seen a wide range of age groups register over the years, with the average age being 37, and those under 21 are free to participate.
“We didn’t want it to be a typical Saturday morning run at 8:00 a.m.,” Graves says. “We start at 7:00 p.m. and have a fun post-race party that leads into the opportunity for people to go out to the bars and restaurants in the part of town their race is in, which maybe they don’t get to that often.”
This year’s race schedule includes The Circle on May 17, Broad Ripple race on June 14, Mass Ave race on July 19, the Carmel race on Aug. 30 and the Fountain Square race on Oct. 11.
For more details on RUN(317), volunteer info, past race results and to register, visit run317.com.