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A Mini Way to Help Your Heart and Your Community

January 6, 2018

The Heart Mini started before running was cool. It was 1976, four years after the ‘72 Munich Olympics. Frank Shorter had just become the first American to win gold in the marathon since 1908. Frank’s run was televised for the nation to see, and it sparked an American running boom. In Cincinnati, the American Heart Association led the way with the Mini. Forty-one years later, the race is Cincinnati’s largest fundraiser with close to 30,000 participants. All proceeds from the race benefit the Cincinnati American Heart Association(AHA) which fights heart disease and stroke.




I chatted with Alyson Poling, the Senior Director of the Heart Mini, and Lori Fovel, the Communications Director at AHA, to learn more. We started the conversation discussing statistics. Heart disease is the number one cause of death nationwide. It surprised me to learn that even if you combine all types of cancer-related deaths, heart disease would still be number one. As Lori noted, “this is one of those rare times you really don’t want to be first.” The good news is that 80% of all heart disease is preventable. The AHA recommends living by what they call Life’s Simple 7: Managing blood pressure, Controlling cholesterol, Reducing blood sugar, Getting active, Eating better, Losing weight, and Quitting smoking.  


The Heart Mini is more than just a race. It is a year round fundraiser, awareness-raiser, and community-builder. The goal of the race is to provide physical activity for everyone, regardless of fitness level. Let’s break it down by numbers:


The Mini has seven unique events that span two days. These include a ½ Marathon, 5K race; 2K Kid’s Race and a 5K heart walk, Health & Fitness Expo, and Kid’s Fun Run.


The main event is the 15K on Sunday, the race that the Heart Mini is named after. In the running world, a 15k is a mini marathon.


Lori’s favorite event is the 1K Steps for Stroke. This race is designed for stroke survivors. One of Lori’s favorite memories is that of a woman who one year could barely walk the 1K and three years later was walking the 5k with ease.


Mercy Health and Fifth Third  are usually two of the top contenders for highest amount raised.  USI Insurance, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, is another impressive company.  The team was driven by the loss of a company executive from heart disease. Today, with 100 people in their office, USI has more people on their Mini team then they have employed. Over 200 local companies have Heart Mini Teams. Each team raises funds for the AHA. According to Alyson, it gets pretty competitive between teams to see who can raise the most money, and have the most participants. 


The race is typically held 10 weeks from January 1rst, giving people just enough time to make training their New Years goal.


This year the two-day event will be held Saturday March 16th, and Sunday March 17th.  I found out the tee-shirts will be navy this year with short sleeves. The design will be unveiled in February.


Now is a perfect time to join or start a team, or register as an individual. To do so go here.   If you need a team to join we recommend joining our pal Drew Ross’ team called Drew’s Heart Mini Team.




Drew is a member of the Heart Mini’s young professional group, Young@Heart. Check out info on the Heart Mini after party hosted by Young@Heart here. 


I’ve run the Heart Mini 5k. It’s always hilly(like most Cincinnati races) and usually cold, but totally worth it and a lot of fun.  Register by February 23rd to save on the registration cost.  Want a group to train with? Check out Fleet Feet's training programs.  Get out there! Let us know if you’re running, and what team your with in the comments section below! 



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