What Is the Blue Jean Mile and How Can You Run One?

Two runners run in their blue jeans, smiling and laughing.

Here at Fleet Feet, we know runners obsess over finding the best running gear for their workouts, from choosing the perfect pair of shoes to the right technical apparel. You want outfits that are stretchy, breathable and moisture-wicking. And never forget—cotton kills! Except, of course, when it comes to the Blue Jean Mile.

Whether you’re running late for your flight or being led on a high-speed chase by your toddler, running in blue jeans happens sometimes. It’s usually not fun, and it’s definitely not on purpose. But by adjusting your expectations and surrounding yourself with your best running buddies, you can actually have a blast running the Blue Jean Mile. Plus, you’re raising awareness (and funds) for a great cause. The proceeds from all Fleet Feet x ASICS Blue Jean Mile events go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

So what exactly is the Blue Jean Mile and how can you run one? Read on to learn more.

What is the Blue Jean Mile?

Johnny Gregorek breaks the world record for the fastest mile run in Blue Jeans.

The Blue Jean Mile is the brainchild of professional middle-distance runner, Johnny Gregorek. In May 2020, when all races and competitions were put on pause, Gregorek was itching for a challenge. But he wanted this challenge to be more meaningful than chasing a fast segment on Strava. Gregorek wanted to push himself physically while also honoring and celebrating the life of his late brother, Patrick. So Gregorek, with Patrick’s memory on his mind, decided to try and break the record for the fastest mile run in a pair of blue jeans.

“Patrick was a really fun-loving and lighthearted kind of guy,” Gregorek told us in a 2022 interview. “He ran, but it wasn’t something that he took too seriously.”

To Gregorek, running a mile in blue jeans seemed like the perfect way to blend Patrick’s sense of humor with Gregorek’s own life and livelihood. He teamed up with NAMI-NYC to raise money and awareness for mental health, all while chasing down the blue jean mile record, which at the time was a jaw-dropping 4:11.

Armed with a pair of custom, denim-accented ASICS spikes inscribed with Patrick’s name and, of course, his Levi’s 501 jeans, Gregorek ran a blazing 4:06 mile and broke the world record. More importantly, he raised over $14,000 in the process.

“It meant a lot to be able to do that,” he said. “I wanted to celebrate Patrick’s spirit in a positive way…and we ended up raising quite a bit of money. It was a great feeling to know that a difference was made and that his memory and spirit are still alive.”

In 2021, Gregorek expanded the Blue Jean Mile to include other runners with a virtual event. He also partnered with ASICS, who pledged to donate $40,625 to NAMI-NYC. In 2022, the Blue Jean Mile events were both virtual and in-person, with ASICS hosting two community events in Los Angeles and New York City. This year, local Fleet Feet stores across the country are partnering with ASICS to host their own Blue Jean Mile events.

How Can You Join the Blue Jean Mile?

A woman runs in blue jeans.

2023 is the first year that local Fleet Feet stores across the country are teaming up with ASICS to host their very own Blue Jean Mile events. Events vary by location, so be sure to check with your local store about whether or not they’re hosting an event and how you can participate.

For Fleet Feet Chicago, hosting a Blue Jean Mile run is a fun and unique way to emphasize the importance of mental health.

“The Blue Jean Mile shows you're not alone,” says Molly McQueeny, Digital Marketing Manager at Fleet Feet Chicago. “Confiding in others helps take the burden off of yourself, and allows others to support you and lift you up, however uncomfortable that may be. I've had my fair share of ups and downs in life and, when I try to face it alone, I only set myself back. I've had to rely on loved ones as well as professionals in the mental health space to help me work on things like anxiety and depression.”

On May 18, participants will meet at the Fleet Feet Chicago Old Town store and try out a pair of the new ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25 for the one mile run along the Lakefront path. The event is free, and participants who donate five dollars to NAMI will receive an ASICS T-shirt.

At Fleet Feet Lakeland, the Blue Jean Mile is a reminder of the healing power that running has.

“When running found me in high school, it quickly became my outlet,” says Jon P., an outfitter at Fleet Feet Lakeland. “It helped settle my anxiety and got me through each day. I really appreciate the initiative to bring awareness to mental health and raise money for those who are struggling to get the care they need. I was raised by two parents who suffered from depression, and have recently been having my own trials with mental health.”

Fleet Feet Lakeland’s Blue Jean Mile will be held on May 9, in conjunction with their weekly pub run at Swan Brewing. The event is free, and participants are encouraged to register here.

No matter where you decide to run your Blue Jean Mile, let it be a celebration of running and all that it teaches us along the way.

“Running in a pair of blue jeans is not comfortable, but working through the discomfort can end in a beautiful thing,” says McQueeny.

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