2011 Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon Course Changes


By Barbara Day, a runner for 34+ years

The Derby Festival announced some major changes to the race courses for the 2011 Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon. For the first time, both races will start and finish in downtown Louisville. Runners will start the races on Main Street, alongside Louisville Slugger Field, and will finish just outside the entrance to Kroger’s Fest-a-Ville venue at Preston and Witherspoon streets. Both races will start at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 30.

From One Runner’s Perspective

I have to say, I don’t really like the new course. I love running through Iroquois Park because it’s a beautiful park. I grew up in the south end and have many memories about the park.  But I understand why the course has been changed. Because I have been a runner for 35 years and have run the miniMarathon more than 20 times and the marathon once, I have some skin in this game or maybe I should say some blisters.

The new flat course will make it easier for novice runners. But more importantly for participants, it will make it easier to park downtown and not have to be bused to the starting line. I am sure this new start will also save the Derby Festival a bundle and it will give runners more zz’s the morning of the race.

What President & CEO, Mike Berry, Has to Say about the New Course

“The course changes are as a result of the feedback we received from surveying runners about what they liked and didn’t like about the route,” said Mike Berry, President and CEO of the Derby Festival. “We feel like the new course will be more enjoyable for both race participants and spectators. The start line on Main Street will showcase one of the city’s more historic and scenic corridors, and the finish line location will make for an exciting setting as the runners go past a tunnel of fans.

“Marathon competitors have run through a hilly section of Cherokee Park since 2006, but that portion of the route has been eliminated. While the hilliest part of the course has gone away, runners will continue to go through the beautiful Highlands area surrounding the park. Marathon runners will still run through Iroquois Park and we hope the residents of that area will continue their enthusiastic support. Starting and finishing the races in downtown will eliminate the need for buses to take runners to the start and will allow spectators a much easier opportunity to watch the dramatic wave of runners moving down Main Street.

Berry said another reason for the course change was to showcase the unique architecture on Main Street, including the Museum Row attractions. Runners in both races will still run a lap inside the infield at Churchill Downs racetrack and will now pass by Central Park and the St. James Court neighborhood. Marathon runners will no longer cross the Second Street Bridge for a segment in Southern Indiana.

“We are grateful for the support of the public going back nearly 40 years with the mini, especially the residents of the South End, who will still be able to cheer on the Marathon competitors,” said Berry. “We’re very excited about starting some new traditions and the opportunity to continue to grow the races. The new course will give spectators more of an opportunity to position themselves along the finishing stretches of the route when runners need their support the most. We hope to offer breakfast-style concessions at Fest-a-Ville, so it should make for a more comfortable and exciting atmosphere for both runners and spectators.”

Some Game Changing Perspectives

Nine years ago, the Triple Crown of Running was changed from the Rodes City Run, the Papa John’s 10-miler and the KDF miniMarathon to include the Anthem 5K, Rodes City Run and the Papa John’s 10-miler. Without consulting the Kentucky Derby Festival, Anthem, Rodes and Papa Johns trademarked the name The Triple Crown of Running to start a completely new tradition.

The reason behind the shift was two-fold: Anthem didn’t feel it was getting enough exposure from the Kentucky Derby Festival for its  sponsorship dollars and Papa John’s wanted to make the 10-miler something special for public relation reasons. Papa John’s decided to introduce a 10-miler Men’s Championship, which local runners could care less about. At the time, the PJ’s 10-miler was really just a local run. The 10-miler championship proved costly for PJ’s so after several years it dropped the championship. Race organizers also tried to plan a runner’s expo which proved to be unpopular and expensive for participating vendors. In addition, PJ’s tried a music concert after the race but it also proved to be unpopular.  Many runners openly complained about the formation of new Triple Crown but the complaining soon died down and all was forgotten.

And, Just More One Change Worth Mentioning About the miniMarathon/Marathon

This year a participant in either the miniMarathon or Marathon MUST pick up their own packet. You must show a picture ID to get your packet. In the past, teams could pick up all team members packets at one time. This procedure is currently enforced at all other nationally promoted marathons across the country.  Hopefully this change will help expand the Runner’s Expo making it possible to feature a fantastic runners expo similar to other national expos around the country which feature lots of new products runners and walkers need to help them maximize their performance.

Image from: www.areyouwilling.net.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years.

1 Comment on "2011 Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon Course Changes"

  1. Earl Tichenor | April 29, 2011 at 9:22 am | Reply

    Stupid decision.. MAJOR Slap in face for South Louisville. Just waiting for them to relocate Churchill Downs next. They have taken everything else away from South end

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