Thanks to a special runner rate, we booked a stay at the Mini Marathon’s host hotel, the Galt House. Either we arrived for check-in when everyone else did, or Galt House had people checking in constantly, all weekend. After wandering through the hotel’s maze of a parking garage, we entered the building to find a line snaking around the lobby. As we had time to observe those around us, we noticed many fit individuals carrying gallon jugs of water. We began to question whether we had hydrated enough for this race, as neither one of us was carrying around a gallon of water. Things got even more mysterious when we noticed many of these fit individuals seemed more muscular than your typical marathoners. Though running half marathons has certainly taught us that runners come in all shapes and sizes, our host hotel had a large proportion of guests with muscularly large proportions. The mystery was solved when I spotted this sign: "Kentucky Muscle Convention." The Galt House had athletes from two very different sports staying there for the weekend.
Panic over the long line and proper hydration abated when the line moved quickly and our check-in was completed fairly quickly. By lucky request, we were placed in a third floor room, which meant we didn’t have to take an elevator during our entire stay. The Galt House has escalators on its first two floors.
As the baseball game had already started by the time we finished eating, we walked back to the stadium, feeling reassured that if the temperature dropped, we had plenty of free shirts to layer over what we were already wearing.
Though the Bats lost their game, minor league baseball is always great fun. We recommend checking them out if they are in town during the race. In addition to entertainment in the form of minor league baseball, we also got a great view from the stadium of marathon preparations.
Our night at the Galt House had all of the comforts of home minus the restless animals making every attempt to get our attention at 3 am. We were mostly ready to go when the alarm rang at 6:15, a later wake-up call than usual. It was a quick quarter mile walk to the race start, another point in Galt House’s favor.
We loaded up on granola bars, chocolate milk, pretzels, Powerade, bagels, and peanut butter crackers at the post-race festival. Justin used his beer ticket and mine to enjoy two free Michelob Ultras while we listened to a band play snappy versions of hit songs from the last five decades. As my body temperature dropped, I was extra grateful for the Mylar blanket Justin thought to take at the finish line (I foolishly thought I wouldn’t need one). Sadly, I hadn’t stuffed my credit card in my SPIBelt, so I couldn’t take advantage of the discounted race merchandise available at the party and buy a $20 long-sleeved Asics tech shirt to keep me warm. (Note to runners, bring cash or a credit card so you can buy discounted race merchandise!) With only a thin layer of Mylar to keep me warm, and in spite of sunny skies and near 60 degree temperatures, I shivered through the rest of our time at the festival and our quarter mile walk back to the hotel.
We were allowed to extend hotel check-out by one hour, giving us enough time to enjoy the post-race festivities and get ourselves cleaned up to go home. Score another point for Galt House: it had the best water pressure of any hotel I’ve ever stayed in, and it delivered the best (and warmest) post-race shower, ever. We definitely recommend staying here.
After convincing Justin to return to the post-race party after check-out, I purchased one of those discounted race shirts and we spent some time cheering on some finishing marathoners. Before heading out of town, Justin enjoyed some beer at the Bluegrass Brewing Company, while I felt refreshed with a cold glass of Mello Yello. While the food wasn’t memorable, Justin says the beer is worth stopping in for.
Tips for a Successful Derby Festival Mini Marathon:
1. Bring cash for discounted merchandise at the post-race party.
2. Stay at the host hotel, the Galt House. It is convenient to many attractions worth seeing and doing in Louisville, and was clean and spacious.
3. Do your best to stay a day or two after the race is over. Apparently we missed one of the best fireworks shows in the United States by leaving Saturday afternoon.
For more information on this race visit http://derbyfestivalmarathon.com/