Overall Rating
Overall Rating (17 Reviews)
4.1
(17 Ratings)(17 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.7
SCENERY
3.4
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.8
The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon presented by Walmart and Humana has grown from a small local road race into the largest day of road racing in Kentucky history. Runners from all 50 states and several foreign countries annually complete the scenic 13.1- and 26.2-mile courses that start and … MORE
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Recent reviews

    snowdrce REPEAT RUNNER '18

    The race expo was larger than I expected. Good variety of vendors and picking up the packet was very smooth. Only surprise was that the packet numbers were not in … MORE

    The race expo was larger than I expected. Good variety of vendors and picking up the packet was very smooth. Only surprise was that the packet numbers were not in alphabetical order on the wall, and it took a minute to find them and then get the packet. The race trucker hat was unusual. Parking the morning of the race was harder to find. I ended up paying to park in a garage rather than search out something further out from the start. The course was great as usual. I started with a pace group and the leader was spot on. The hills in the park were not too bad, and they were in the shade for the most part which helped. The aid stations were well organized and stocked. The finish area was a bit disorganized, and the volunteer ended up giving me a RELAY medal by mistake, which I did not notice until I left. However, the race team quickly send a replacement medal when I called and asked. Very responsive.

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    cjf5 FIRST-TIMER '18

    This was my first marathon. Louisville is great. The course is great - scenery etc. Runners even enter Churchill Downs - awesome. After running through Churchill downs, the marathon runners … MORE

    This was my first marathon. Louisville is great. The course is great – scenery etc. Runners even enter Churchill Downs – awesome. After running through Churchill downs, the marathon runners branch off. There is little to no support for marathon runners in the last half of this race especially in the 16-20+ mile area – when you need it most. If you are in the back, you are on your own especially to figure out which way to go to stay on course/directions. There are some hills in the park after mile 11 nothing too bad. My recommendation is to NOT do this as your first marathon. Maybe run the mini and look for another marathon where the full 26.2 is better supported. After putting in the training and showing up, you do not need the added stress of questioning what mile you are on because it is not evident, which side of the cones to run on in the winding park (arrows on pavement through park would have been nice), or navigating on your own (is this the course/or this way) – again arrows would have been nice (and leaving them up for longer). The corral might be better managed too. I was in corral in the middle/back with a lot of mini runners. Without realizing I was in a pack that branched off and left. By the time you branch off from the mini runners you could be in mostly solitude with minimal support and limited chance of getting in a marathon group to help support you to the finish. At the tail end of the marathon expect limited to no support.

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    3
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    Peter FIRST-TIMER '18

    This is a relatively large race, but it was easy to get to and the expo and after party were well organized and fun. The course is relatively flat but … MORE

    This is a relatively large race, but it was easy to get to and the expo and after party were well organized and fun. The course is relatively flat but you get to see much of the city including Churchill Downs.

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    3
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    5
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    runningbumbles FIRST-TIMER '18

    This race needs to fix the starting corrals. I started in D and spent the first mile and a half dodging walkers. And the pay walked in the middle of … MORE

    This race needs to fix the starting corrals. I started in D and spent the first mile and a half dodging walkers. And the pay walked in the middle of the course instead of getting to the right.
    Great flat course with plenty of crowd support! Loved going through Churchill Downs. Plenty of food at the end but it felt like we had to walk a mile to get to it.
    Need to find a new host hotel. Galt House is in need of a gut job. Too expensive for one night.

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    5
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    dsbland FIRST-TIMER '18

    This race was a ton of fun and the town of Louisville was very inviting to all of the race participants. It helps that the race is part of the … MORE

    This race was a ton of fun and the town of Louisville was very inviting to all of the race participants. It helps that the race is part of the run-up to the Kentucky Derby so the entire city is in a festive mood. I stayed at the host hotel which was located in an active part of downtown just off the Ohio river. The race provided shuttle service to the expo and there was plenty to do within walking distance of the hotel.
    The expo was actually smaller than I would have thought it should have been given the number of people running in either the full or half marathon. There was everything that a runner might need to pick up if something was left at home or lost to airport security, but not much else to see or that many people to talk to about the race.
    The race itself started at 7:30 in the morning and we were blessed with perfect weather. It was a fairly crowded start, there didn’t seem to be much of an organized wave start in spite of being grouped into corrals.
    The first half of the course was a tour of several neighborhoods in and around the downtown area of Louisville. It was a mix of affluent older homes and some rougher parts of town, but there were nice crowds that cheered the runners on and provided some un-sanctioned food and drink.
    Between mile 8 and 9 we reached Churchill Downs and were directed into an area of the race track that allowed us to get some pictures and see some jockeys putting horses through practice on the track. Although we didn’t get to run on the track or the infield, our route was inside the gates and provided some great views of the track and grandstands and was a perspective that few people get to see.
    By mile 11 we transitioned from city running and moved into Iroquois Park. In spite of the toughest hills on the course, the shade and scenery more than made up for the difficult terrain. I run through a hilly park area in training and this section felt fairly comfortable for me in terms of style of run, but the hills were no joke and should be taken seriously.
    We spent about 4 miles in the hills and then spent the remainder of the run going back through neighborhoods and then back into downtown. The support and scenery definitely take a hit during the last third of the marathon, but this is a complaint that can be lodged against most races that have such a huge half marathon as well. The aid stations seemed to be more sporadic in the last 8 miles as well, but the volunteers never failed to be enthusiastic and supportive.
    This is a race a highly recommend to anyone doing the 50 states or looking for a good marathon in the Louisville/southern Indiana area. The race is well organized, it’s a unique course with an opportunity to see an historic sporting venue. We had great weather and fun crowds for most of the race, I would think that would be well worth a visit to Kentucky.

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    M_Sohaskey May 01, 2018 at 6:41pm

    Congrats on adding Kentucky to your 50 States Map, Scott! And good to know that a race with Kentucky Derby in the name does allow its runners access inside the gates, what a uniquely cool experience. Louisville is a fun place, and though I wasn't around for the Derby, I appreciated all the horse statues around town that make up the Gallopalooza project. Thanks for the excellent review!

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    kellyh FIRST-TIMER '18

    The first 3/4 or so of this course is amazing. There were frequent aid stations. Running through Churchill Downs with the old Derby racecalls playing was awesome. Iroquois Park presented … MORE

    The first 3/4 or so of this course is amazing. There were frequent aid stations. Running through Churchill Downs with the old Derby racecalls playing was awesome. Iroquois Park presented some moderate hills in the shade, but it was pretty up there, and the hills were not that bad. The big problem was somewhere after mile 20 or 21 , where it felt like the race directors forgot to put any aid stations and there was very little crowd support. (I think there was one aid station there towards the end, but they were much more frequent in the earlier stages of the race) Basically, it sucked for the part of the race where runners need the support the most. I understand that the half-marathon is much larger than the marathon here, but the support at the end would have been nice.

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    DrewNYC FIRST-TIMER '18

    This is a mostly flat course. Right before mile 12 is the only significant hill. Other than that, it was pretty much flat. A decent amount of the course is … MORE

    This is a mostly flat course. Right before mile 12 is the only significant hill. Other than that, it was pretty much flat. A decent amount of the course is shaded, which helps on a sunny day.

    Part of the race goes through Churchill Downs, which is really cool. I wish we had more of an unobstructed view of the track, but it was still pretty amazing.

    Plenty of water and aid stops. Lots of nice volunteers and spectators. Several of the mile markers seemed off (I would swear there were two signs for mile 9 and miles 11 was definitely off).

    Small-ish expo. Okay shirt. Great medal.

    There was a shuttle that ran to/from the expo, which was great. Lots of hotels to choose from. Limited options (in my opinion) for pasta the night before–so the one place (Old Spaghetti House) was quite crowded! Lots of pubs to enjoy a post race beer (or bourbon).

    For 50 staters, I would highly recommend this race for Kentucky.

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    rehardesty FIRST-TIMER '17

    Organizers for KDF have made this race one I’ll run every year. Amenities are great, water/Powerade stations are set up throughout the course, and the community of Louisville supports all … MORE

    Organizers for KDF have made this race one I’ll run every year. Amenities are great, water/Powerade stations are set up throughout the course, and the community of Louisville supports all runners throughout the race. Plus, how many people can say they run at historic Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week?

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    4
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    mjenn66 FIRST-TIMER '17

    Cool race. Cool town. One of my favorite finisher medals. Well run event. Had fun visiting the Louisville Slugger Bat factory/museum and Churchill Downs horse track. The half marathon gets … MORE

    Cool race. Cool town. One of my favorite finisher medals. Well run event. Had fun visiting the Louisville Slugger Bat factory/museum and Churchill Downs horse track. The half marathon gets to run through the infield of Churchill Downs. Pretty good course and overall fun weekend.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    5
    SCENERY
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    5

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    KirstensDad FIRST-TIMER '16

    Very crowded start with marathon and half marathon runners together. A lot of walkers up front. In my mind it was poor (if any) method to assigning corrals. I was … MORE

    Very crowded start with marathon and half marathon runners together. A lot of walkers up front. In my mind it was poor (if any) method to assigning corrals. I was in B and people in A were walking before the first water station. This was not one or two but dozens. The expo was good. Nice quality medal and shirt. Running through Church Hill downs was cool. There is a few miles in a park that are scenic and a short stretch of down town, but mostly nothing really to look at.

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    RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '16

    I ran this race paired with the Flying Pig Marathon the next day. I had heard mixed reviews about it. Many people said the half course is much better, that … MORE

    I ran this race paired with the Flying Pig Marathon the next day. I had heard mixed reviews about it. Many people said the half course is much better, that the full is boring or ugly. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the entire race. My thoughts:

    First, there was a ton of road construction in the Louisville area, so that was a pain but not the race’s fault. I stayed across the river, in Indiana. It was walking distance to the start/finish, but the weather didn’t really permit that this weekend! If you are able to stay downtown near the race course, that would make things easier.

    The expo was good – much larger than I anticipated. I’m not big on expos, but it wasn’t too crowded so walking around wasn’t bad. The shirt was great – a nice color blue and fit well. I was also delighted to receive an orange marathon hat, which was a nice surprise! There is also a nice poster.

    The start was well organized, and went off without a hitch. The cool part is the official bugle player for the Derby plays at the start of the race – unique!! You run through downtown for a bit and share the course with the half runners for maybe ten miles or so before they go in a different direction. I’m not going to say the course is stunning or as beautiful as some other races, but it was good. It’s a city race, but you actually go through Iroquois Park for several miles in the middle. That is the hilly part, but it was quite lovely. It was pouring rain for much of the race (after about five miles, it rained steadily, and heavily at times). The park was beautiful and peaceful and one of my favorite parts. I’ll agree with other reviewers that it is much quieter and more spread out after the half runners peel off, but I look forward to that space.

    One of the best parts of the race is going through the tunnel under Churchill Downs and up into the infield. That was awesome, and something most people will never do or see. If it hadn’t been raining I would have taken more than one (wet) photo, but it was pretty incredible. There were horses and riders out on the track which was pretty neat and definitely a highlight.

    There weren’t many spectators out on the course because of the weather, but them’s the breaks. The volunteers were great and there were plenty of stocked aid stations along the course (roughly every two miles).

    The finish area would be great on a dry day, but with all the rain it was pretty muddy and full of puddles. Of course when you’re already drenched, it doesn’t really matter. They had space blankets and of course the awesome medal. Lots of goodies at the finish too.

    Overall I really liked the event. I found it to be very well organized with great communication. The weather could be a factor but even with the rain, I enjoyed the course and the event as a whole. Good swag and unique elements that you can only find in Louisville.

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    ryanallenmartin Dec 05, 2017 at 8:34pm

    Did you happen to get the Derby Marathon poster? Do you have a picture you can post?

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    RunnerMeg Dec 06, 2017 at 11:10am

    I got a Kentucky Derby Marathon poster, yes. I'm not sure where I can post it - I tried to upload it as the image for my review. Can you see it there?

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    RunnerMeg Dec 06, 2017 at 11:11am

    It shows up in the race media gallery now :)

     
    Profile photo of Leslie Christensen
    lchristensen44 FIRST-TIMER '16

    The expo was fun with a variety of gear to buy. I got my husband a bike shirt for $20 and myself a Headsweats visor. My friends got free KT … MORE

    The expo was fun with a variety of gear to buy. I got my husband a bike shirt for $20 and myself a Headsweats visor. My friends got free KT tape and we all had a group selfie. The start of the race included a bugle player just like at the horse track. Part of the course ran past really cool architecture and there were even some folks from a retirement home handing out orange slices. Around mile 7 we entered the icon Kentucky Derby track. The post race area had a live band, beer area and some food trucks. It was cold and rainy that day so we didn’t stay long afterwards.

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    geddings FIRST-TIMER '17

    Not a bad race. Pretty flat course. Good race support on the course. Great communications, because there was a bad storm in the area prior to the race, which delayed … MORE

    Not a bad race. Pretty flat course. Good race support on the course. Great communications, because there was a bad storm in the area prior to the race, which delayed the race 1.5 hours. They kept us informed on race start and a good race overall. I was a little slower than normal because of prior races the weekend before. Nice to run in Churchill Downs.

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    olsonm73 FIRST-TIMER '16

    What made this run so unique was that you had the privilege of running around Louisville and through Churchill Downs. While you weren't allowed to run on the actual horse … MORE

    What made this run so unique was that you had the privilege of running around Louisville and through Churchill Downs. While you weren’t allowed to run on the actual horse track, you ran on the paved parts and we’re still inside the stadium … What a Rush! How many times can you say you’ve done that??? The rest of the run was Great. Overall it was flat minus the midway point around there was a significant peak for a mile and another uptick around mile 22 so the Elevation chart was pretty fair and accurate. The support was Awesome and the event was just well organized.

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    jllarsen FIRST-TIMER '16

    This was my first half marathon, and it was the perfect choice. A super flat course with very few turns. It rained for most of the race, but was still … MORE

    This was my first half marathon, and it was the perfect choice. A super flat course with very few turns. It rained for most of the race, but was still very enjoyable and not cold at all. Runs right through Churchill Downs, and a lot of the KY Derby horses were out doing their workouts, which was very cool. Plenty of bathrooms and water stations. Only complaint was that the shirts ran really small.

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    dansolera FIRST-TIMER '12

    This is one of the flattest, fastest half marathons out there that isn't a point-to-point, downhill run. It has remarkably few turns, has almost zero hills or elevation change, and … MORE

    This is one of the flattest, fastest half marathons out there that isn’t a point-to-point, downhill run. It has remarkably few turns, has almost zero hills or elevation change, and takes place in late April, allowing for cool temperatures. It starts in the city and heads to the famed Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, before running back in almost a perfectly straight line on city streets. Additionally, the t-shirts and medals are very well designed and worth displaying. So if you’re within a 3-hour driving distance of Louisville (5 hours if, like me, you’re from Chicago), put in some speedwork and let that equine, Derby magic be the carrot for your next PR. I have heard that the marathon distance has a very hilly second half though.

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    2tallfritz FIRST-TIMER '14

    One of my favorite races of the year. Everything was perfect from the downtown Louisville staging area with a host hotel within walking distance to the expo and race start. … MORE

    One of my favorite races of the year. Everything was perfect from the downtown Louisville staging area with a host hotel within walking distance to the expo and race start. Plus a thriving downtown with lots of activities for the whole family. Then a GREAT race that showcased Louisville and all it’s attractions. A couple difficult sections but so worth it. My favorite part? The flowering trees and beautiful neighborhoods!

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