Race to the finish: Iowa State participates in Miles to Madness challenge


Iowa State is participating in the Miles to Madness challenge.

Jack Mcclellan

Miles to Madness is an annual competition between many universities throughout the country. 

This is the first year Iowa State has participated in Miles to Madness, getting involved through Paige Perkins, an alumni program assistant in Iowa State’s fitness program who is now a graduate assistant at Old Mist. Thanks to Perkins’ connections, Iowa State is now a participant in this nationwide celebration of physical fitness during the countdown to March Madness.

The competition is split into four rounds, where each school is paired with another and the school that racks up the most miles moves on to the next round of the competition.

Each school’s mileage is the count of recorded miles exercised by students and staff members of the university. After four days, the bracket moves forward, and half the schools are cut from the bracket. 

If schools lose the bracket, they can still strive to be the “miles per capita” champion. 

Miles to Madness goes through March 14, ending after Selection Sunday for the March Madness Tournament.

In the first round, Iowa State lacked much competition with competitor Auburn University at Montgomery, as they did not report any miles. 

Regardless of Auburn’s participation, or lack thereof, Iowa State totaled 849.3 miles and is now in the second round of the bracket, competing with the University of South Carolina. In South Carolina’s first round, they totaled 654.7 miles, almost doubling the mileage of our brother in statehood, University of Iowa. 

In the second round, South Carolina currently holds a lead over Iowa State, having racked up 461.2 miles compared to Iowa State’s 377. Hopefully, the Clones can take advantage of their fantastic weather and take the lead before the end of the second round. 

Fitness Coordinator at Iowa State Ashley Artist said this weather might give Iowa State an advantage over southern schools like South Carolina, as “they’re used to it.”

“We’re excited about the competition, we’re really excited about the turnout we’ve had, especially since it was a new competition and we weren’t sure what participation was going to be like,” Artist said. “You can see that Iowa State has really stepped up throughout the community.” 

Possibly contributing to the Iowa State community’s satisfactory performance is the general increase in staff and student head counts at the fitness facilities. 

“I think from what we’ve seen as far as numbers of people in the facilities and numbers of participants in our fitness programs has increased since 2021,” Artist said. “I think people are really getting to a place where they are feeling more comfortable figuring out ways to be active. … People have become more comfortable and aware of social distancing measures and wearing masks while they’re exercising.” 

For people unsure of participation in Miles to Madness, Artist talked about the low time commitment.

“It’s short, it’s only two weeks from the time it starts to Selection Sunday,” Artist said. “March Madness is exciting in itself, so it adds a different element as something that leads up to the NCAA Tournament.”

Uploading individual mileage to support your school is easy. First, exercise using any of the approved methods (treadmill, bike, elliptical, rower, stair climber, arm ergometer, indoor track, pool laps, fitness class, outdoor activity and at-home activities) while keeping track of your mileage. 

Take pictures of your mileage on whatever device you use to record. Then, submit the miles as well as the photo evidence through a Google form available on the Iowa State Miles to Madness website

No matter how Iowa State places in Miles to Madness, the competition achieved its goal: it motivated and inspired students and staff members of universities across the country to get up and get active during a pandemic that so strongly pressures students to do the opposite. 

Iowa State will continue to participate in Miles to Madness through this year’s bracket and in years to come, getting students in shape and hyped for March Madness.