Triple Crown kicks off 32nd running Feb. 27

The new year is when 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 Feb. 27, followed by the Rodes City Run 10k March 12 and the Papa John’s 10 miler March 26.

After a move to the East End two years ago, the Anthem 5k stays with its traditional downtown location, with a course last year that was even faster than before. Both the hill and the concrete plant are gone from around mile 1. It gets a little zig-zaggy with the turns towards the end, but your final right-hand turn from 8th Street on to Main gives you a nine-block straightaway to kick like crazy.

The Rodes City Run 10k retains 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.

My biggest complaint about the races is the lack of a post-party and no awards ceremonies that I’ve ever seen. I think they maybe do some, but I’ve never actually seen them.

I do 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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