After 24 straight years of running the Mini or the Marathon, I went back to the Marathon this year because it was only 15 bucks more. Here are the observations I had while running:
-Good for the marathoners. In years past, it was depressing to branch off from the Mini runners en route to 26.2. This year it seemed like a real race when we marathoners took a right turn. That's because I noticed over 2,000 marathon finishers this year verses 12,000 half marathon finishers. That means there was one marathoner for every 6 half-marathoners. Considering they were going to kill the marathon due to poor participation a few years ago, I'd say that's progress.
-Thank goodness they reconfigured the course so the start and finish are in the same place, but they really need to re-think the beginning of the race. Taking us out to 22nd street in the west end and back is an awful way to start the race. One of the explanations I heard for doing so was "We need to involve the west end" in Derby festival activities. After two straight years of not seeing one person out in a yard watching the race in the jaunt out to 22nd and back, I'd say the west end is not going to get involved. Not a good way to impress out of town runners by immediately taking them way out and back in a part of town with bars over the windows and absolutely no support.
-At the same time, it was sad for marathoners to run through the once wild Southern Parkway part of town with a sparse crowd, and signs in the yards pleading "Bring the Mini back to Southern Parkway." It was nothing like it used to be when the Mini travelled through. Apparently they feel abandoned so they weren't out there for the smaller Marathon contingent.
-Churchill Downs is still a valued part of the route, but turning into a stiff wind in the infield and getting a big blast of horse dung is not a great way to keep the stomach in check during a marathon.
-Running the hills of Iroquois Park in reverse was really a trip after all those years of running them clockwise. Remember that awesome curvy taper down and out of the park after 3 miles of hills? Marathoners had to go up that baby in the opposite direction and it was not pleasant.
-The nasty hill they made us run at the 23 mile mark on Barret was as bad as they warned it would be. But I love it. No reason to take it easy on marathoners. Putting a bear of an incline at mile 23 is brilliant. Separated the men from the boys.
-Thank goodness for the costumed runners. I always thought the Elvi runners were comedians. They're actually serious, accomplished runners. My vote this year though goes to the 2 guys dressed as barefoot hillbillies, running the marathon in bare feet. Wow.
-And for those who made fun of my IPOD music selection. Analysis of my mile splits shows I ran much faster during songs by AC/DC and Van Halen, and slower during selections by U-2 and the Police.
-Amazing how 13 miles click by when you're running 26. More amazing how slowly 26 go by when they're the final leg of the 140 mile Ironman Louisville in August.