Louisville Marathon Runners: Kentucky Derby Marathon or Backside Trail Marathon?

Cherokee Park Trail
Cherokee Park Trail

Residents of Louisville know that the most exciting time of year is just around the corner.  I’m talking about springtime of course, but more importantly…Kentucky Derby Festival.  I’m sure you know people that go out of town every year for Derby weekend because this city turns into crazytown (which, by the way there’s nothing wrong with leaving town for derby weekend), however even those people will most likely attend some of the Kentucky Derby Festival events.  There is no denying that during the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby there are a million things to do in this awesome city and a lot of them involve partying.  Today, I am talking about something a little healthier; running…a lot of running.

For 39 years the Kentucky Derby Festival has hosted a mini-marathon through the streets of Downtown Louisville.  The initial event had 301 entries (which was double what they had anticipated).  2012 had around 18,000 runners (marathon and mini-marathon combined).  The full marathon course wasn’t introduced until 2003 and typically draws some 2,000+ runners each year.  Either way, it involves a lot of running.  It has also made its way into the top 100 races in the country, ranked by USA Track and Field.  Not too shabby.

Ok, switch gears a little bit.  We are still running.  But now we are running on the beautiful, wooded, rolling trails of Cherokee Park and Seneca park instead of the pavement.  I personally am not a runner.  I do, however, enjoy riding a mountain bike through our spectacular system of single track madness, so I must say that this trail running gig instantly appealed to me.  Quest outdoors (and other sponsors, I think) are part of a fabulous trail running event that was dubbed “The Backside Trail Marathon“.  It started in 2012 and offers both a half and a full marathon course with a twist.  If you have ever run trails then you know the difference.  It completely changes the game from a standard road run to an unpredictable terrain.  Also coming with the trail run: adventure, nature, and shade.

The event falls on the day after the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, this year it is Sunday, April 28th.  They offer special awards for those who compete in both the Kentucky Derby Marathon and the Backside Trail Marathon.  This is baffling to me.  Two marathons in two days?  That’s impressive!  I don’t think I am up for that challenge.  Not sure if I can do the Backside mini this year, but if I can get in a few training days, I will have to head to the park, take in the beauty, and run some trails! 

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