What do you do when your marathon goals are stamped out by unseasonably warm weather? Crash, lick your wounds, and plan the next marathon. So, Minneapolis Marathon, here I come.....but I digress.
My wife and I made our first ever trip to Louisville, Kentucky this past weekend and we absolutely loved it! The unseasonably warm weather was terrible marathon weather with highs in the mid 80's, but incredibly nice vacationing weather.
Here is my review:
Not so easy. It is a really nice course with some cool features. Early on at around the three mile mark you get a taste of the Kentucky Hills inside of Iroquois Park. There are two significant hills inside of the park that will get the blood pumping.
The next feature is Churchill Downs. The course actually goes inside Churchill Downs and runs along the back stretch. After watching the Kentucky Derby for all these years, I consciously slowed down inside the Downs to take in the atmosphere.
Above is the race track, Corina and Kurt, and Kurt and I in the pre-race area
The Barbaro Memorial, the famous tulips, and Corina and I with the Wreath of Roses.
After exiting the park, the course takes aim on downtown Louisville over the next couple of miles before turning east toward Cherokee Park. Cherokee Park is a beautiful part of the course and not as challenging as it may look on the elevation map.
The final feature of note on the course is the trip across the bridge into Indiana and back. I found this to be a nice feature because it was so different that the rest of the course. Yes, the bridge adds a hill in both directions, but it is a very manageable incline. The final mile and a half is downtown and well supported by fans.
As is typical in marathons now a days, the first half of the marathon is well supported and the fans thin out significantly after the half marathon split. When we took a right turn on Breckenridge Street it was as if we were running out into no where. But, all in all I was surprised by pretty decent support in the second half. One real highlight is at mile 22 at the turn toward the bridge. The fans are lining the streets and it is an adrenalin rush. These same fans are supporting you at mile 24 1/2 as you get back across the bridge.
It was great. One tip is that they tell you that you must be at the shuttle buses by 6 a.m. That is an entire 90 minutes before race time and not necessary. Based on what I saw, you could get there at 6:30 and get a ride without any problem.
The expo was not nearly as big or as good as the expo I remember in Nashville in 2008. However, the Country Music Marathon is an event with 25,000 to 30,000 runners. Everything was on a different scale.
The start line was well organized with the common problem of too few porta potties. But, I have no idea how you would ever have enough. The finish line was perfectly organized with plenty of food and beverages including the all important post race beer.
We did not stay at the host hotel, but we really enjoyed our accommodations at the Marriott Residence Inn. I would highly recommend this hotel and it is an easy walk to the shuttle bus and an easy walk from the finish line. One tip is to ask for a room that faces the inside area, not the street. Not much of a view, but I heard the street can be a little noisy at night.
We loved the race and loved the area. Both my wife and I would highly recommend this marathon and the Louisville area as a fun event and place to visit.