Everyone who’s met me knows that I grew up around athletics. All of my mom’s brothers are college football coaches, and my grandpa is none other than Coach Bill Lynch! But if you saw me playing sports, you’d think I was lying about my genetics. (Seriously, just watch me throw a football! You’d never believe that my grandpa was once the starting quarterback at Butler). Although I played tennis and cheered in high school, I’m still the uncoordinated try-hard when it comes to sports in my family. So, when I got the opportunity to run the Indy Ultimate Race, I wondered if I’d have what it takes—but the cheerleader in me could not have been more excited!
The Indy Ultimate is an annual race through downtown Indianapolis that’s sponsored by the Indiana Sports Corp (ISC). For more than 40 years, the ISC has played an enormous role here in Indy, bringing big-time sporting events right to the heart of the Hoosier State! Since 1979, they’ve helped Indianapolis host over 500 national and international events, including Super Bowl XLVI, 18 U.S. Olympic Trials, and various NCAA Championship games.
Thanks to the Indiana Sports Corp, Indianapolis is now one of the best places to live if you’re a sports fan, and the Indy Ultimate is just one way for you to get involved! The Indy Ultimate Race is basically one huge, 6-mile obstacle course through some of Indy’s top destinations. Their goal is to help residents fall in love with their city again, and in my opinion, they definitely scored!
The day of the Indy Ultimate dawned bright and early before our 9 AM start time. Although flash flood warnings caused a small delay, the only form of precipitation we ended up getting was our hard-earned sweat! The starting point for this Indy-centric obstacle course was the iconic Monument Circle in the center of downtown Indianapolis. Around the circle, I saw people from all walks of life getting ready for the big race. Both young and old people were stretching their arms, gulping down their pre-race fuel, and enjoying each other’s company as they listened to the music blasting over the speakers.
After a brief warm-up with my running partner for the day—my best friend, Stella, we excitedly found our place at the starting line. Then, with the emcee’s signal to go, we were off like the cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! (Okay, maybe a slow-mo version.) But slow or not, I still covered a lot of ground on my ultimate journey across the city!
INDIANA WAR MEMORIAL
The first landmark on our trek was the Indiana War Memorial, a 210-foot-tall monument built to honor Hoosier veterans of World War I. As we inched closer and closer I could not believe my eyes. There were so… many… stairs! And we had to climb them all!
Luckily, we weren’t doing it alone. Our path up the War Memorial was lined with military generals and veterans cheering us on, which made it easy to forget about my burning thighs. When we finally made it to the top, I truly felt like Rocky! It was also a really cool way to experience the memorial for the first time, interacting first-hand with some of the veterans it was built to honor. In fact, I just recently learned that Indianapolis has more acreage dedicated to honoring veterans than any other city in the country, which I think is pretty cool! You should absolutely climb the stairs for yourself and check out the museum inside the monument. And the best part? It’s totally free to visit!
PACERS TRAINING FACILITY AT THE ASCENSION ST. VINCENT CENTER
About halfway through, we made it to the Ascension St. Vincent Center, also known as the Pacers Training Facility. This space is usually not open to the public, which made it an exclusive experience for the Indy Ultimate. The atmosphere inside was bouncing—probably because of all the dribbling basketballs! But as I ran in, my nerves were upon me. I knew I’d have to shoot a free throw. They handed me the ball, and off I went!
I dodged one temporary wall and then another, until I finally arrived at the hoop. I bent my knees, extended my elbow, and well… let’s just say I am no Reggie Miller. I rebounded the ball and tried to make up for the shot with a lay-up. Missed again. But I guess the third time’s the charm because I finally made the next one! Afterwards, I got to celebrate the basket with the Pacers mascot, Boomer, which helped me completely forget about my two missed shots!
LUCAS OIL STADIUM
My favorite stop on my Indy Ultimate journey was Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. I spent the majority of my Sundays as a child watching the Colts on TV, so it was awesome to experience some time on the field.
Once I entered the stadium, I was immediately ordered to drop and do ten push-ups—my “ticket” to the field. After fulfilling the task, I ran down the stadium stairs to the field, where my name was announced for all to hear: “Lexie Manor from Muncie, Indiana!” A true small-town dream! Then, the first activity was the passing target. Considering my family’s history, I was very nervous when it came to my turn. But much to my surprise, I MADE IT! You’re looking at the next Peyton Manning right here—or maybe just a semi-coordinated person. After that, we were all given a chance to make a field goal, but there’s not much for me to talk about this one…. . Let’s just say I put in a good effort.
The final destination before the finish line was Victory Field, Indy’s minor league ballpark! Originally, we were supposed to run the bases, but we couldn’t because of the morning’s heavy rain . However, you won’t hear me complaining! Instead, we got to drink free Sun King Brewery samples and spin the Hoosier Lotto wheel. And I can’t wait to go back to Victory Field later this summer and use the ticket voucher from my registration packet. I can just see myself now, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” while drinking a Sun King beer!
All in all, racing in the Indy Ultimate was such a COOL opportunity! I mean, when else would I have the chance to (attempt) a field goal at Lucas Oil Stadium? And these are only the highlights of my 6-mile race around the city! If you’re interested in learning more, you’ll just have to sign up next year and experience it for yourself. Make sure you follow Indiana Sports Corp on all of their social media channels to receive updates about upcoming events and next year’s ultimate race.
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