500 Festival’s Rookie Run gives youngest athletes race day experience


Beth Spoonmore enjoys running, and she’s glad to see her children starting to love it, too.

Thanks to the 500 Festival’s Rookie Run, presented this year by Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase, her daughter and son have had the opportunity to participate in a race set to their scale.

“It’s a short enough distance that it’s not intimidating or overwhelming for their age, and it’s a really fun environment,” Spoonmore said. “They were both successful at it, and that made them feel good about themselves.”

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Volunteer Matt Adams, left, greets Lincoln Spoonmore at the start line of the 2022 Rookie Run. (Photo courtesy of Beth Spoonmore)

This year’s event, set for May 14 in downtown Indianapolis, will feature courses for children ages 3 to 10 that range from two blocks to a one-third mile, with the distance increasing for each age group. The youngest racers will begin at 12:30 p.m., with the final group set to start at 2:30 p.m.

Participants in the event, which is noncompetitive, will receive a race bib, goodie bag and finisher medal and experience running past a cheering section before they cross the finish line.

Matt Adams participated in the Rookie Run as a kid and remembers it as a “cool experience” to run through downtown streets. More recently, he’s attended the event as a volunteer and has enjoyed watching the young runners feel the same sense of awe that he did.

“Adults don’t really think of running as a fun experience, but to these kids it is something cool and they are really excited,” he said. “When they finish and they get their medal, there are lots of smiles and a lot of joy.”

A Greenwood resident, Adams said he also enjoys volunteering at the Rookie Run because he can serve alongside his wife, who works for the 500 Festival.

The Rookie Run is held in conjunction with Kids’ Day, a free outdoor festival on Monument Circle. The event will feature more than 40 exhibitors and plenty of educational and interactive family activities. This year Kids’ Day coincides with Mother’s Day.

“The Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase Rookie Run is one of our most impactful and fun youth events that focuses on our mission to enrich lives and encourage an active lifestyle for all ages,” said Lindsay Labas, vice president of marketing and communications for the 500 Festival. “We are proud to provide such a positive, exciting experience for kids and families to discover the fun of fitness and be active in the community.”

Registration for the Rookie Run opens Feb. 16. Learn more at indymini.com/rookierun.