I headed to Louisville last weekend to run my 2nd Kentucky Derby Marathon. I love this race and it wasn’t difficult to talk me into a repeat visit. I’m a huge fan of races in small towns where we can park the car at the hotel, then walk to packet pickup, dinner & the race itself. Its good for the runners AND spectators.
The expo is a nice size. Not huge but a decent size compared to some of the smaller ones we have been to as of late. Quite a few vendors to cover whatever you may have forgotten or to grab something special to remember your trip. Packet pickup was quick and painless. The full marathoners walked away with a gender specific tee & a hat for race swag.
Race day was just as painless. The race started on Main Street about a block or two from our hotel. No gear check for us, so we just made our way to the corral and got in line. Race started at 7:30a and we left the hotel at 7:00a. Rain was on the forecast so we grabbed a selfie before we got wet. Me, Katie & Julie M. We tried about 4 selfies. I look equally as goofy in each one. Yes, this is the best one. No, I have no idea what’s going on with my hair.
There are so many things I love about this race and I talked about a lot of them when I ran in 2014. See that post HERE. Race starts on Main Street and you run past all the local businesses, bars, restaurants, the huge YUM Stadium, the Louisville Slugger Museum and so much more. The first miles of the race really showcase a lot of what Louisville has to offer, including the University of Louisville. It weaves in and out of downtown. Constant crowd support. Neighborhood children out to cheer on the runners. Good community support.
But honestly, everyone is just waiting for mile 8 and to enter Churchill Downs. This was definitely a highlight for me last time and I was anxiously awaiting it once again. By the time we got to this point, it was steadily raining on us and had been for a while. So no pics from this round but I have some from 2014!
We run into the entrance of Churchill Downs, thru the area where all the tents are located and I envision various vendors for race weekend, then thru the tunnels, under the track and into the back lots. Pic below from 2014.
Even though it was raining, there were still several horses out practicing when we ran thru. It’s very cool. I’ve always wanted to go to the Derby and this renewed my interest to make that happen. Cool venue and I love running it.
Once we are out of the Downs, around mile 9, the half and full marathons split. Although, I always enjoy the company of the half runners, and find it way easier to keep a slow steady pace when all of them are around, I was ready for a bit of solitude and for the road to open up. The Derby Festival Marathon weekend is best known for it’s “mini” marathon (half marathon to anyone how doesn’t live in Indianapolis IN or Louisville KY). There were 10,434 half marathoners and a mere 1,811 full runners. So the road did in fact open up quite a bit as we said goodbye to the “mini” runners. But we weren’t alone. There were always people around and still a good number of spectators out, even for a rainy day.
Now we were headed for Iroquois Park. This is the hardest part of the race with lots of up & downhill sections but the scenery is spectacular. I must say, I found this section particularly hard last time (2014) but it really wasn’t that bad this year, thanks to all the ridiculously hilly races I’ve managed to run over the last couple years. There were some tough ups but I walked them. And I found a surprising number of downhill sections which I don’t remember from last time! The gentle rain made everything that much more beautiful and the road was wide open so that we could easily run the tangents up and down the hills and around the winding roads. Very nice.
After Iroquois Park, it was all downhill. Like seriously. I think we may have had 1 or 2 inclines after that but it was otherwise flat terrain. We ran past so many amazing churches and historical homes, back thru the University of Louisville campus and we were headed back to the downtown area.
The aid stations were fully stocked and staffed, even with the rain. They offered water, Gatorade & Cliff Shots in several spots. Lots of potties and medical stations, if you needed them. Plus spectators who came out even with the weather. By the time we hit mile 23, it was a full on downpour. I was happy to have a visor and just kept my head down and ran. It was then that the rain finally penetrated my shoes as we could no longer see dips in the pavement but rather just splashed thru. It didn’t dampen anyone spirits but there did seem to be a lot of people cramping and hurting in those last miles and I think it was a lot about the weather and the cool rain on their warm muscles. Julie & I stopped 2-3 times to dig Biofreeze out of our bags for people who needed some assistance. But alas the finish became visible and we put another marathon in the DONE column. We even saw our friend Erica at the finish. She killed her race and beat us by a few minutes (or more). Julie, Random Dude, Erica & me.
The Kentucky Derby Marathon is an awesome race. Great spectator support. Great community support. Great course. Great police/safety. Great aid stations. And its fun without too many crazy hills. Put this one on your list if you haven’t already, it’s worth the trip to Louisville to run the Derby.
The Derby Marathon was the first marathon of the weekend. Yes, the second double marathon weekend of 2016. We finished, showered, and drove to Cincinnati OH for the Flying Pig Marathon. Come back tomorrow for that recap.
** Run the Derby Marathon ** Amanda – TooTallFritz