Mayo Mile 2 (copy)

A pair of walkers tried out the "Mayo Mile", which traversed downtown Mankato skyways and civic center corridors, when it debuted on March 4, 2020. Within days, COVID shut the program down and it still hasn't returned.

Q: Good Morning:

There was an article in The Free Press on March 4, 2020, regarding the opening of a downtown indoor walking path known as the “Mayo Mile.” I have looked recently for additional information regarding its availability. The article did have the times it was open for public walking but I wanted to make sure that information was still correct before heading to Mankato. My husband and I have been walking daily on the Red Jacket Trail and are looking for indoor venues with the upcoming winter weather. Thanks.

A: The “Mayo Mile” was created not long after naming rights to the civic center complex were purchased by Mayo Clinic Health System, which wanted the agreement with the city of Mankato to be about more than just traditional marketing of its name at a place that drew big crowds for sports and concerts.

The plan was to promote community health along with promoting Mayo, and the downtown walking path was an early piece of the strategy, launched on March 4 with a community celebration.

“The indoor walking path was designed with starting points where the Hilton Garden Inn and Mankato Place Parking Ramp connect, or where the Civic Center Parking Ramp and the City Center Hotel connect,” said Amanda Dyslin, a spokesperson for Mayo in Mankato. “The path goes through the skyways and arena, and two laps equal one mile.”

But the timing was a bit cursed.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown that happened just a few days after the launch, the Mayo Mile at the civic center location hasn’t been open in its entirety since mid-March 2020,” Dyslin said. “Currently, the Hilton Skyway and arena lobby are only open based on event schedules. The skyway to the City Center Hotel is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and walkers can use this path to the ticket office. The city of Mankato and Mayo Clinic Health System continue to monitor local COVID-19 statistics and will revisit when to open the full indoor walking path in the future.”

The exercise program probably could have returned by early summer of 2021, when the pandemic seemed to be waning and new cases were almost nonexistent in south-central Minnesota. Most people, though, like the idea of getting their exercise outdoors during those warmer months.

Now, with the weather turning cold and snow and ice inevitably on their way, indoor exercise is looking more attractive. Unfortunately, the coronavirus appears to prefer a lot of indoor activity by Minnesotans, too, and the state is leading the nation in per-capita new cases.

All of that said, good health is enhanced by exercise. So what’s a walker to do? There’s always mall walking.

“... The Mayo Mile is available at the River Hills Mall for those looking for an indoor walking option,” Dyslin said.

If readers want to suggest other options for people looking to add some variety to their wintertime walking regimen, send them in.

Along with River Hills, Madison East Center is an option. And Ask Us Guy, when he had a trio of energetic little Askers about 15 years ago, would sometimes haul them up to Minnesota State University and walk them from the Centennial Student Union to Taylor Center and back. That option works best on weekends, though, when parking is easier and the campus is less bustling. And people who don’t like exercising with a mask shouldn’t try the MSU option because masks are required when indoors there.

Contact Ask Us at The Free Press, 418 S. Second St., Mankato, MN 56001. Call Mark Fischenich at 344-6321 or email your question to; put Ask Us in the subject line.

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