Extra Mile presented the 1 Mile Challenge again this year this past Thursday night. The parking lot behind the running store was packed with runners, spectators and vendors celebrating their mutual love for running and the community.
Runners of all age groups and fitness levels, along with Middle School Teams and High School Teams, came from all over Northwest Indiana to compete against one another in the 1 Mile Challenge down Laporte Avenue and back.
The Challenge gave runners of all levels a chance to put their limits to the test, maybe even beat a personal record, in this fast paced challenge or to simply just enjoy a good run with family and friends.
The event welcomed small businesses from the surrounding communities to come together to reach out to the public. Some of the vendors included Firehouse Subs, Valpo Viennas, Running Vines, the U.S. Army and many representatives from running shoe brands including Brooks, Mizuno and New Balance.
Nicki Caylor, owner of Running Vines Winery won an impressive 3rd place in her age group for the Challenge. Caylor said this is her 4th year participating in the Challenge and her 2nd year as a vendor for the event. The Running Vines booth had many flavors of their delicious wines and ciders in stock to sell.
“I love Extra Mile, I love everything that Heather and Todd do for the community. They do such a good job being involved” said Caylor.
Caylor said that events like this are really great for local businesses and the community to meet. “It’s great community involvement. It’s great to see everybody coming out together and having fun,” said Caylor “It helps other small local businesses too”.
Participants in the Challenge were invited to try out shoes from a variety of running shoe vendors during the race
Joey Camp, a representative from Mizuno shoe company says that events like this helps the customers and the company to come together and meet.
“This is a great chance to actually get in front of the local community and talk about our shoes and talk about our products,” said Camp. “Usually there’s a wall between the customer and us, so there’s a chance to actually get in front of them and answer questions directly.”
Courtney Wagner, a representative from Brooks came out to the event to not only reach out to the community, but to inspire people to run and be active everyday. “It’s a good way to showcase that run happy spirit.” said Wagner.
Thanks to the sponsors of the event, Extra Mile was able to award the middle schools and high schools with the most participants in the race with a donation to their Cross Country team.
The middle school with the most participants was Morgan Township, whose Cross Country team took $250 back to their school.
The high school teams were split up between girls and boys. The winning girls teams with the most participants includes Portage in 4th place taking home $200, Chesterton in 3rd place taking home $250, Crown Point in 2nd place taking home $500, and the home team, Valparaiso High School in 1st taking home $750.
The winning boys teams with the most participants includes Lake Central in 4th taking home $200, Chesterton in 3rd taking home $250, Portage in 2nd taking home $500 and once again, Valparaiso High School taking home $750 in 1st place for their Cross Country team.
Todd Henderlong, who owns the Extra Mile Fitness Company with his wife Heather, said that a race like this, with so many waves of runners, including seven age group waves and three school challenges, was a challenge.
“But thanks to the City of Valparaiso for letting us close down LaPorte, you actually contain it and make it safe for the runners. Made it where you can see them a couple different times made it very spectator friendly. And that really was different from years before.”
With so many people signed up for this huge event, it’s hard to keep track of them all.“There’s 650 people and getting them signed up and getting them to go off in the wave their suppose to go off in, fixing it when they don’t, that’s the most challenging part.”
“But we had a lot of great volunteers, great support from our venders, great sponsors to help us donate some money to cross country programs. So, yeah, I really don’t know if I could have asked for it to go any smoother.” said Henderlong.