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INDIANAPOLIS — The 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and 5K in downtown Indianapolis usually attracts tens of thousands of people every May. In 2020, it went “virtual” due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, the organization announced it will stay virtual in 2021.

The move to take the race online was announced Monday morning.

“The decision did not come lightly,” 500 Festival President/CEO Bob Bryant said. “Truthfully, we turned over every corner you could think of turning over, in terms of investigating the safety, the different ways we could do it, the protocols we could try to put into place. It’s something we want to do, it’s something that is very important to the 500 Festival, both as a fundraiser but mostly as a community event that kicks off a great month of May.”

However, Bryant said the large number of people it takes to put on the event couldn’t be ignored.

“I think people just need to remember the scale of this event, the thousands of volunteers that get involved, the medical support staff that gets involved, and even IMPD and the security of the route,” he said. “It’s not something we can just scale back.”

People who sign up will get a custom package that includes distance-specific gear, plus a digital race bib, access to a participant-only Facebook group, and the shirt and medal that participants receive at the finish line of the normal in-person marathon.

Bryant says participants can then choose when and where they want to run their race. There will also be a new Indy Mini app.

“We’ve added the tracking capability of a specific app, with GPS tracking, that allows you to have your own real-time tracking so you can submit your time,” he said.

Bryant says they announced the decision Monday — more than two months before the event — to give themselves, and participants, enough time to prepare.

More than 8,000 people did the virtual mini-marathon last year.

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