For those of you who are running the half or full Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon (known around these parts as "the marathon" or "the mini") at the end of April: we got a crucial email today! The course has dramatically changed. The race director was nice enough to send me the course map in a jpeg format so I could share it with you:
You can also check it out here
Although the picture you can see is small, you can still get an idea of what the routes are for the mini (blue) and the full (red). We are actually running in an opposite direction of years past! Do you see that green patch at the bottom? That is Iroquois Park, which represented the only hills in the course for the mini. Last year, we ran around 1-2 miles and then ran into the park to conquer the three miles of hills in Iroquois. As you can see, that section has been eliminated for this year's race. From what I can see, the course for the mini marathon will be essentially hill-less this year, and I have mixed feelings about it. Whenever I go on a run and tackle hills, I feel like my run has been so much more worthwhile. On the other hand, this isn't a nice little 5k or 10k. It's THIRTTEEN POINT ONE miles! Not having hills might be a nice break for a race of this size. The marathoners still have to run the hills, but I guess it's "go big or go home?"
In about the middle of the map, you'll see our pride and joy, Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby. Between miles 7 and 8, we run around the infield of the track. This feature of the race is not new, I've done it a couple of times. I remember at this point last year I saw my parents, threw my hat to my dad yelling, "DAD! CATCH THIS!" and the hat hitting a stranger, and starting to feel run down. I hit a major wall at mile 9 last year due to stress about taking the bus to the race and not being able to find a bathroom that didn't have a long line behind it. This year that won't be an issue as I will have a helicopter with a bathroom dropping me off at the race site. Not really, but that would be ideal.
Overall, I'm anxious and excited to experience the drastically different race course. Let's hope it will be the best yet!