Louisville’s Triple Crown of Running

January. The start of a new year and, for many of us, the start of a new racing “season.” January is the month many of us start getting back into training, after coasting through the holiday season. In Louisville, the combination of New Year’s resolutions and the Triple Crown race series serves as an impetus for many, both veteran athletes and new ones.

The Triple Crown is a three-race series, with a race usually every-other weekend, including a 5k, 10k and a 10 miler. Each year about 20,000 people complete at least one of the three, with about 5,000 finishing the whole series. It’s a challenging and competitive series, but also offers less experienced runners a chance to build up to a longer race. Many also use it as preparation for the Derby miniMarathon in late April.

This year, the Anthem 5k will be March 7, followed by the Rodes City Run 10k March 21 and the Papa John’s 10 miler April 4.

Last year, major road construction in downtown Louisville forced the Anthem 5k course to move about 20 minutes from its normal location. The course was in a business park and the traffic situation abysmal. But, this year the course is back downtown and actually even better than before. The scenery should be more interesting and the course — known for being fast before — should be even faster now. (If you’ve run it before, take heart that the hill just after mile 1 is gone!)

The Rodes City Run 10k will retain its long-time course that takes racers past historic Cave Hill Cemetery and past part of Cherokee Park, with a start and finish line also downtown.

And, the Papa John’s 10 miler will continue to start at — surprise — Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, home of the University of Louisville football team. This keyhole course travels down Southern Parkway, one of four Olmstead-designed parkways in the city, around Iroquois Park (also Olmstead’s), and back down Southern Parkway. It finishes on the football field; beware the overpass hill at mile 9 and note that the last mile will seem twice as long since you can hear the finish festivities starting at that mile-to-go marker.

The Triple Crown is really a hallmark of the Louisville running community, having technically started in 1984. Then, it featured the 10k, a now-defunct 15k, and the Derby miniMarathon. Later, the 10 miler was added and in 2004, the 5k replaced the Derby miniMarathon. There are still runners in Louisville who have run all three variations.

I also give kudos to the Triple Crown organizers, because the series not only promotes fitness, it supports a good cause, having raised more than $1.4 million for the Crusade for Children over the years. Learn more at louisvilletriplecrown.com — hope to see you there!

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