After the excitement of the Derby Festival miniMarathon and Marathon in April, some local runners tone down their training routines.
But the Louisville Sports Commission is hoping to change that with two new races, the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon and the Louisville Pure Tap 5K, which are set for Saturday, Nov. 12.
“Louisville is a great running community, and there is a vibrant series of races in the spring, and once you get to the summer and the fall … there are no half marathons,” said Karl Schmitt, executive director of the Louisville Sports Commission. “We think there’s room on the calendar for a quality half marathon in Louisville in the fall.”
The Sports Commission partnered with the Derby Festival to produce the event because of the festival’s expertise at putting on races, Schmitt said.
Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry said his organization is excited to be a part of the event.
“The Kentucky Derby Festival has been actively involved with producing road races in Louisville for nearly 40 years, and we think that organizational experience will be invaluable,” Berry said. “The LSC Half Marathon is a great way to get in shape for the holidays, and we’re looking forward to working with race organizers on what promises to be one of the premier local sporting events in the fall season.”
The 5K offers less-experienced competitors a shorter distance than the 13.1 mile half marathon, which will be open to both walkers and runners. Both races start at Preston and Witherspoon streets and end at the Belvedere, but each will have unique courses.
“We chose the (half marathon) route specifically to take people through the scenic loop in Cherokee Park,” Schmitt said. It also will take runners through downtown and to portions of West Louisville.
The 5K course goes down River Road and the River Walk.
Schmitt expects 2,500 to compete in the half marathon and 300 to 500 to compete in the 5K.
“It’s going to be a real runner’s experience,” Schmitt added. “We’re going to have mile markers and a clock every mile. There will be 13 mile markers out there and 13 timing devices.”
About 55 percent of the more than 2,200 runners currently registered for the half marathon are men. Among those is 36-year-old Graham Honaker, who has been blogging about his training routine on the LSC Half Marathon website (www.lscmarathon.com).
“This is really a great thing for Louisville,” Honaker said. “This puts something else on the menu for runners to look forward to. You’re a more effective runner if you are training for something.”
The race is designed to showcase Louisville. Medals for winners will be dipped in Maker’s Mark red wax, and the Louisville Water Co. will be providing water. Companies providing food and refreshments at the post-race celebration at the Belvedere include Bearno’s Pizza, Bluegrass Brewing Co., Consumers Choice Coffee, Maker’s Mark, Nancy’s Bagels and Kroger.
You’ll also find The Voice-Tribune’s guest columnist Talia, who is 12, at the finish line. Through her Talia’s Love 4 Life Project, she will be signing up people to be organ donors.
“It’s a fabulous project that she’s working on,” Schmitt said. “We think it’s a good crossover in that people who are inclined to participate in a 5K or a half marathon are people who are a little more cognizant and understanding of their bodies and may be a little more apt to be organ donors.”
The half marathon and 5K was created to raise money for the Sports Commission and further its mission.
“Our mission is to attract, host and create sporting events and activities that do three things: promote economic vitality in the community, and that’s primarily through heads in hotel beds; improve the quality of life – and that can be more things to do, more things to participate in, promote healthy lifestyles; and the third component is to brand Louisville as a great sports town,” Schmitt said.
The Sports Commission is an 11-year-old, not-for-profit organization with a staff of six. It is governed by a 60-person volunteer board.
“Our volunteer workforce, starting with our board, is very strong and that’s what makes us work,” Schmitt said.
Most big cities have sports commissions, he added. “We’re a relatively young sports commission. We try to take the community’s assets and bring events to town. (We) marshal a lot of resources so that when people come to this community they know their event is going to be successful.”
Louisville’s assets, according to Schmitt, include a central location, good facilities, affordability, navigability, great neighborhoods and a long history of hosting major sporting events.
The Sports Commission works closely with the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bellarmine University, the University of Louisville and the Kentucky State Fair Board to help bring events to town. It also offers support services such as executing event permits, security, medical and health, promotion and sponsorship.
Additionally, “The NCAA has a very high regard for Louisville,” Schmitt said. That is evident by the fact that Louisville has hosted or will host 19 major Division I and II NCAA events, including everything from cross country and soccer to volleyball and field hockey, from December 2010 to December 2012.
The Sports Commission also was involved with the 2007 Senior Games and has a continued role with Ironman Louisville, which will be held in the River City through 2016. Another upcoming event with which the Sports Commission is involved is the World Elite Cyclo-cross Championships, which will be held in February of 2013 at Eva Bandman Park. Cyclo-cross is a form of bicycle racing over a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, hills and obstacles.
And although it is sometimes difficult to measure, Schmitt said there is a connection between sports and sporting events and promoting healthy lifestyles.
“It’s such an enormous problem facing this country and this community that we all have a responsibility to do what we can to encourage healthy lifestyles,” he said. “For us, it’s through sporting events. If we can encourage people to participate in an event or maybe a parent to bring a child or their children to come watch an event and become motivated to participate in sports, or if we can help create more sports that children or adults can participate in – that’s our way of helping. We’re just one small piece of the puzzle.”
Saturday, Nov. 12
5K start: 7:30 a.m.
Half marathon start: 8 a.m.
Registration: Half marathon, $75 (ends Nov. 4); 5K, $20 (race day registration available)
Love 4 Life Project
Join Voice-Tribune columnist Talia at the finish line of the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon on Nov. 12 as she signs up people as organ donors.
Keep an eye out for her at the finish line and sign up to save a life.
Race day road closures
The following streets will be closed on Saturday, Nov. 12.
7- 8:30 a.m.
Grinstead Drive (Cherokee Parkway to Cherokee Road)
Cherokee Road (Grinstead Drive to Baxter Avenue)
Baxter Ave. (Broadway to Liberty Street)
Liberty Street (Baxter Avenue to Ninth Street)
Muhammad Ali (Ninth Street to 21st Street)
Main Street (21st Street to 12th Street)
Main Street (12th Street to Fifth Street)
Category: Cover Stories
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jacob Glassner, News Editor/Plate Spinner
Jacob usually has his eyes glued to a computer screen, editing stories and making sure the paper gets out the door each week. Multi-tasking is his modus operandi – similar to the plate spinners you’d see on the old “Ed Sullivan Show.” Turn ons: freshly-sharpened pencils. Turn offs: exclamation points!!!