Overall Rating
Overall Rating (67 Reviews)
3.9
(67 Ratings)  (67 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.5
SCENERY
3.6
PRODUCTION
3.8
SWAG
3.5
The GE Appliances Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon & Marathon is a long-standing tradition held every spring in Kentucky. It has become the largest annual day of road racing in the state. As 2023 marks the 50th annual miniMarathon and 22nd annual Marathon, the Festival looks forward to another historic event. … MORE
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Recent reviews

    lysne FIRST-TIMER '24

    As an aspiring 50-stater, this was state #11, so my review will come with that lens. I'm familiar with Louisville (I have family in town) and it's a nice city … MORE

    As an aspiring 50-stater, this was state #11, so my review will come with that lens. I’m familiar with Louisville (I have family in town) and it’s a nice city to visit. The timing of the race–a week before Derby–is ideal, as town enthusiasm picks up a bit, and the weather cooperated (mostly overcast, a little drizzle, but temperature in the 60s to 70s).

    The expo and packet pick-up was pretty straightforward and simple and quick (I’m not an expo guy).

    On race day, the race was pretty well organized–easy to get to the start, and plenty of room.

    As for the race itself, I really think that the course was pretty outstanding–they selected a fairly urban course that was actually interesting (with the entrance to Churchill Downs at around mile 8 being the obvious highlight), and then a looping out-and-back to Iriquois Park to complete the first-half, running back down some familiar streets with a final turn towards the finish at about 22 (with a 2-mile out and back from the finish to get those last 4 miles in). What I liked about the course is that the urban areas were interesting, as scenic as they can be (some neighborhoods were nice, others more transitional–but very little industrial areas), the roads were wide open and well protected with extensive and friendly police support (I only saw one motorcyclist walk through an intersection,) and one car authorized through the entire course. The course was relatively flat (slight downhill overall) with some moderate hills in the Iriquois Park area (M11 to 15). Overall, I just thought that the race planners picked a very good course that showed off some fine parts of the city and did not cut corners by throwing runners off into industrial areas for empty miles.

    If there were any criticisms about the course, I’d say one minor things: the finish line was in a weird spot–after a short turn in the road at an area that felt like the onramp to a highway, just an odd spot (but I may have been delirious at that point, so maybe this is on me.) In any event, it didn’t have that tension that I usually love about the final mile in the race because of that somewhat blind and unusual finish area.

    The bling (medal) and shirt (long sleeve black tech shirt) were all serviceable and classy–although I’m not usually huge about swag or bling, but it’s top 25%-50% for sure.

    Aid stations were well stocked with water and Gatorade (I never saw anything else like Gu or other things, except when spectators or private groups had tables set up).

    Crowd support was pretty good throughout, although certainly modest and quiet in parts like the neighborhood areas.

    Food/drink in the recovery area was ideal for me–decent selection of basic fruit, granola, water, powerade, etc, so no complaints there!

    Overall, I’m glad I chose this race as my Kentucky race–I think it’s worth a shot–especially for that chance to run with the horses at Churchill Downs.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
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    hokiegrad0076 FIRST-TIMER '24

    This was my 3rd marathon. The weather was pretty warm - 68 at the start - so I decided in the corral to go out at party pace to avoid … MORE

    This was my 3rd marathon. The weather was pretty warm – 68 at the start – so I decided in the corral to go out at party pace to avoid overheating. The first half is really fun, lots of spectators, and you run through churchill downs which is so great! I also liked Iroquois park, even with the hills (i walked part of the first one, then ran the ups and downs). I found the spectators really lacking though as you came back down and through the city…and the marathoners had to dodge the half marathon walkers which i found pretty frustrating and demotivating (at that point you’re at miles 18-20, and the walkers are wakling a 3.5 hour or so half marathon). The worst of the worst was miles 21-25, which is an out-and-back on waterfront road, so no spectators! I’m so glad one of the volunteers had an orange, i completely cratered and really struggled there. Post race was fine, but we found some good bars on the 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel. I love Louisville, have come here for work for the past 18 years, and enjoyed the experience overall!

    DIFFICULTY
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    Expo: Very smooth and easy to park. Marathoners got a long sleeve tee and half got a regular tee. Race day: I believe there were about 1400 marathoners this year, … MORE

    Expo: Very smooth and easy to park. Marathoners got a long sleeve tee and half got a regular tee.

    Race day: I believe there were about 1400 marathoners this year, which is a pretty decent size. Parking was pretty easy. We left our house, which was about 20 minutes away, at 6:10 and was in our corale at 6:40.

    The big takeaway from this race is that there is a lot on the first half. The second half goes through Iroquois park, which is really hilly between miles 11.5-14.5 with no crowd support. Marathoners also rejoin the half marathoners for, I believe, miles 18-22. Then we split off again and rejoin for the last 1.5. It was so annoying having to weave through all of the half walkers. I was wondering what other marathoners thought about this too. I thought there was plenty of hydration stations, but there definitely could’ve been more porta potties on the second half. At one point, you run through the corales again where there were a TON of bathrooms, but you can’t get to them because the barricades were still up from the morning.

    Post race: nothing really special about any post-race food. They gave you entire bottles of Powerade, but no bottles of water.

    Weather: temps were 65 from the start and ended around 74. My guess is that the weather for this race could be a hit or a miss. The day before our race, the morning temps were in the 50s, so we were off from perfect weather by 1 day.

    Overall I would recommend this race as a great half marathon, but I wouldn’t recommend the full if you’re trying to PR. But if you’re going to enjoy Kentucky, then maybe this race is for you!

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    run-4fun FIRST-TIMER '24

    I haven’t done other KY races but did research others. Was hoping to see the balloon glow the night before but wind 10-20mph only allowed torches. There were a lot … MORE

    I haven’t done other KY races but did research others. Was hoping to see the balloon glow the night before but wind 10-20mph only allowed torches. There were a lot people out and parking was pretty difficult to find. The race was okay. If you want to see beautiful KY countryside with horses, pick another race. If you like to be in city setting this race is ok.

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    elladams REPEAT RUNNER '23

    Great local race that highlights downtown Louisville and running through Churchill Downs to kick off the Kentucky Derby Festival - the marathon crosses the Ohio River into Indiana and both … MORE

    Great local race that highlights downtown Louisville and running through Churchill Downs to kick off the Kentucky Derby Festival – the marathon crosses the Ohio River into Indiana and both distances end at the Lynn Family Soccer Stadium. Lots of great crowd support!

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    kgladfelter FIRST-TIMER '23

    Run through Churchill Downs was excellent. Good fan support and energy on front half. Crossing river to IN for 2nd. half added to this unique design. very nice area for … MORE

    Run through Churchill Downs was excellent. Good fan support and energy on front half. Crossing river to IN for 2nd. half added to this unique design. very nice area for post-race event at Lynn center

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    aimeeault FIRST-TIMER '23

    Adding one more data point that the 2023 course was totally off on measurement--registered 13.4 miles. What should have been a 2+ minute PR became a 10 second PR, which … MORE

    Adding one more data point that the 2023 course was totally off on measurement–registered 13.4 miles. What should have been a 2+ minute PR became a 10 second PR, which felt incredibly frustrating after all the effort.

    I just didn’t love this race, despite it being what should have been a great race for a PR.

    Couple of places on the course that were vaguely confusing or just not set up well. First was entering Churchill Downs–you have to make an abrupt sharp turn going into the entrance that forces you to slow down. Second was at the point where half/full split–it shouldn’t have been confusing but the volunteers that were yelling were making it unnecessarily complicated.

    Crowd support was a little weak in some places–I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those who ran the full and went over into Indiana.

    Finish line was kind of far from the start line and I don’t think there were shuttles. Ended up being a 1.5 mile walk back to my hotel 😬

    Host hotel was downtown near the start line but for some reason the expo—which would have been awesome if it were in the convention center one block from the host hotel—turned out to be a few miles away nowhere near downtown.

    No real race communication from the organizers outside of the expo.

    I kind of expected this race, for its size, to be on par with the Indy Mini (I think partly because both are called Mini, both have about a 10k turnout total, and both involve running on some sort of race track), but it just was an underwhelming imitation at best.

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    pablopelos FIRST-TIMER '23

    Course was nice and flat, just small rises of less than 20 ft., Very scenic, through downtown to Churchill Downs and by lots of stadiums, homes, etc. Lots of local … MORE

    Course was nice and flat, just small rises of less than 20 ft., Very scenic, through downtown to Churchill Downs and by lots of stadiums, homes, etc. Lots of local crowd support. Distance by Garmin was 13.41 miles, marathoners had 26.7, just a lot too far. Then after finish the walk back to start was way too far and poorly organized IMHO.

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    rafeyo FIRST-TIMER '23

    If you’re looking to have fun running a marathon and want to see the sites of a city, this race is for you. However, if you have race goals in … MORE

    If you’re looking to have fun running a marathon and want to see the sites of a city, this race is for you. However, if you have race goals in mind… beware! Everyone I talked to after the race measured the distance at 26.66 miles. Also, the race website claims a 500 feet elevation but it’s closer to 800 feet and all of it is on the second 1/2 of the course. I’m more than a little surprised the race organizers are this loose with the layout considering it is a certified Boston qualifier.

    Bottom line, if you’re looking for a fun 1/2 marathon, this one is hard to beat. However, I won’t make the trip to run this marathon again.

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    cherylmc411 FIRST-TIMER '23

    Fast, flat course through downtown Louisville, and a bit of the run even went into Churchill Downs! Swag included a quarter zip long-sleeve tech shirt and a nice medal! There … MORE

    Fast, flat course through downtown Louisville, and a bit of the run even went into Churchill Downs! Swag included a quarter zip long-sleeve tech shirt and a nice medal! There was a good selection of snacks after the race, including full-size bottles of Powerade, chocolate milk, bananas and apples, and granola bars. Course was slightly long… around .40 miles for the half! The only other complaint was the finish line was about a mile from the start line, so it was a rough trek back!

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    LPenGuinn FIRST-TIMER '23

    The expo was on the small side, they did have some good vendors and a little bit of swag, nothing crazy. The start line was moved at the last minute … MORE

    The expo was on the small side, they did have some good vendors and a little bit of swag, nothing crazy. The start line was moved at the last minute because of the memorial for the Old National Bank and the distance was made up and course certified however many had 0.5mile plus extra by the end. I was actively working to run the tangents and I ran over 26.6 by my watch. The weather was perfect, the woman singing the national anthem was amazing and brought tears to my eyes. The course support was fantastic! The people of Louisville showed up!! There was enough up and down to help your legs use some different muscles instead of being pancake flat the whole way. The course was beautiful including a tour of Churchill Downs. You run across a footbridge which goes into Indiana and you do a long out and back that got a little lonely while being very scenic. They did have two good cheer sections in the middle too. The finish was at a soccer stadium and had good vibes all around there wasn’t many options for food at the finish. I ran a big PR so I really can’t complain and I would love to come back.

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    pbegno FIRST-TIMER '23

    Planned this race a year in advance and partnered with Indy 500 and Flying Pig the following weekend. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Louisville. Across from KFC Yum … MORE

    Planned this race a year in advance and partnered with Indy 500 and Flying Pig the following weekend. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Louisville. Across from KFC Yum Center – did not rent a car – packet pick up changed – read your emails – I missed – A nice couple drove us to packet pick up. We received a Shirt and Bib – Shirt was nice – we took an uber the following day to spend time at expo. Day of race we walked to start and were able to walk back to our hotel. In the morning the hotel had goodie bags for all the runners – very nice of them! Lot’s to do in the area – We chose this race for the course going into Church Hill Downs! Our only disappointment was our gps tracked 13.43 Miles – And others were running on the side of us were saying the same??

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    brizy REPEAT RUNNER '22

    I ran this back in 2010 as my first half ever and again in 2022 on the new course so it’s special to me. The new course is flatter and … MORE

    I ran this back in 2010 as my first half ever and again in 2022 on the new course so it’s special to me. The new course is flatter and faster and perhaps a little less scenic all through downtown areas. The expo is pretty good sized with a variety of booths with giveaways and things for sale. The tech shirts were not my favorite in ‘22, but medal is good quality. There are some really good spots with people cheering on the course including the finish and others that are more sparse. Finish line festivities are great with lots of post race food and drinks, giveaways, photo ops, etc. It is a bit if a walk back to hotel and parking if from out of town. Kentucky countryside is beautiful so worth visiting while you’re in town. They do cool handmade pottery mint julep cup from Louisville stoneware for age group and top 100 finishers if you’re fast 🙂

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    First half was fantastic. Second half in Indiana was boring scenery and because of covid restrictions they were giving out full giant size water and Gatorade bottles. Most people took … MORE

    First half was fantastic. Second half in Indiana was boring scenery and because of covid restrictions they were giving out full giant size water and Gatorade bottles. Most people took a few sips from a giant bottle and threw it away. So wasteful. I thought the women’s cut tshirt was ugly. I’ve worn it once. Overall good not great.

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    kcmcq18 FIRST-TIMER '22

    Good course through Louisville with the highlight getting to run in the infield of Churchill Downs. The race shirt was pretty horrible though. MORE

    Good course through Louisville with the highlight getting to run in the infield of Churchill Downs. The race shirt was pretty horrible though.

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    sim_bates FIRST-TIMER '22

    IV run a lot of marathon and some half decent times but this cause for pretty unique and not in a good way. The first half and so what is … MORE

    IV run a lot of marathon and some half decent times but this cause for pretty unique and not in a good way. The first half and so what is the half marathon cause was good this alot of spectators and atmosphere but If your running the marathon once you cross the bridge you are just running into a void. A 12 mile out and back on a single bike track with barely a soul out there. It was so boring and lacking. My experience of the second half was also dampened by the fact that I was not given any direction on when to make the turn on to the bridge and subsequently ran several hundred meters further before being called back. This through all of my mile splits out the window and ultimately cost me a top 3 spot and so $500 + dollar’s. The race organizers do not respond to email. I would not recommend the marathon course and would not do it again. The half marathon would be much better.

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    LSWJohnson FIRST-TIMER '22

    The first half was eventful with the course going through Churchill Downs and downtown. I enjoyed the bands and different types of bands that were playing along the first half. … MORE

    The first half was eventful with the course going through Churchill Downs and downtown. I enjoyed the bands and different types of bands that were playing along the first half. The walking bridge into Indiana was beautiful and much longer than I was expecting. The out and back course was kind of boring even though it was still pretty to see. The water stops were far and few between during the last half, which was disappointing since that is when I really needed a refill in my handheld water bottle. It was also very hot towards the end. My watch and phone both said the marathon was longer than the 26.2, almost an extra half mile. Overall, I enjoyed the run and the scenery. I’m happy to have completed another marathon and check off another state. I was disappointed to see them taking down the finish line and beer tents before the course time limit happened.

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    Tricia123@ FIRST-TIMER '22

    I do love the medal! The women's cut shirt is nice! The weather was great at the start but it warmed up really fast! Didn't really care for the course … MORE

    I do love the medal! The women’s cut shirt is nice! The weather was great at the start but it warmed up really fast! Didn’t really care for the course at all! I have heard and read nothing but good things about this race and what a great race it is. I really don’t understand the hype! I found the race blah and really my least favorite race in the 8 years that I have been running. Loved Louisville!

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    joblatchley FIRST-TIMER '22

    Plenty of water stations (9) on the half marathon course. Flat course but not too scenic except for small portions. Crowd support was sporadic but lively. Finish is a mile … MORE

    Plenty of water stations (9) on the half marathon course.
    Flat course but not too scenic except for small portions.
    Crowd support was sporadic but lively.
    Finish is a mile from host hotel.
    Expo small.
    No race props or background to take photos with.

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    hseitz FIRST-TIMER '22

    Common marathoner knowledge: big city marathons try much harder on the first half of a marathon course to impress half marathoners, and then the quality dips for the last 13 … MORE

    Common marathoner knowledge: big city marathons try much harder on the first half of a marathon course to impress half marathoners, and then the quality dips for the last 13 miles. This was the most egregious case yet!

    Packet pickup was at the Kentucky International Convention Center, a really nice, shiny building downtown. The expo was great (even featuring some sports games!) The temperature for this race was borderline too hot, but the clouds kept it from being miserable. Surprisingly, not many hills. The first half of the course is *amazing* for a city this size. We start downtown, and run past the Louisville Slugger Museum, the University of Louisville, several nice neighborhoods, and even into Churchill Downs at mile 8, before finishing next to the Louisville women’s pro soccer stadium. All the city landmarks. Great crowd support and water stations. If I did the half, this would get 5 stars.

    For the back half, we run onto a bridge and over the river into Indiana, where we do a 6 mile out and back on some greenways on the Indiana side. People said Louisville outsourced the second half to Indiana because they didn’t have enough police to secure enough intersections in Louisville.

    Running on lonely greenways isn’t the worst, but I was really disappointed by the aid stations in Indiana. Almost all aid stations were only handing out WARM water bottles, no gatorade. In the 75 F heat, the warm water made me gag, and almost every runner took two sips of a bottle and threw it out, leading to massive water bottle waste. You’d think paper cups would have been cheaper and almost as easy. Some 7 year old kid finally saved me with an ice cold Gatorade around mile 23, and I almost cried, I was so sick of warm water bottles. Even at the finish line, there wasn’t a single person who could give me a cold cup of water! Just Powerade and warm water bottles.

    Official parking is at the Lousville soccer stadium and is $10. We parked for free in a park parking lot northeast of the stadium on River Road, a mile away. Take your chances if you want.

    Hills to watch out for:
    -right at mile 14, running onto the bridge from Ky-Indiana, is a steep incline.
    -just before mile 21 is a long uphill. You will run past this at mile 18, so you will be warned.
    -at mile 24, getting back onto the bridge to run back into Louisville.

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    bsobering May 05, 2022 at 10:22am

    I agree with all of this! Just did my first marathon here and while it was still a wonderful experience, as first things are, I completely agree about the first… MORE

    I agree with all of this! Just did my first marathon here and while it was still a wonderful experience, as first things are, I completely agree about the first half being awesome and the second half being more of an afterthought with way fewer and less equipped aid stations, tons of water bottle waste, and generally a little lackluster compared to the first half. I still recommend the race and it’s mostly flat and scenic but the second half could definitely up its game! LESS

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  2. Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon & miniMarathon