Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon 2021: Route, Course Map, Times, Event Details

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 22, 2021

Horses are walked off the track after running in the ninth race before the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

In 2020, the Kentucky Derby was much different than usual. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race was postponed to early September, and there were no fans in attendance at Churchill Downs. Also, it ended up being the second event on the Triple Crown schedule, as the Belmont Stakes still occurred in June.

Another difference compared to last year's event is that there was no Kentucky Derby Festival, which also meant there was no marathon. The race is typically held one week before the Kentucky Derby, and while the 26.2-mile marathon has only been taking place since 2002, there has been a 13-1-mile "mini" marathon that has been held since 1974.

This year, the event is back, but there will be some changes, considering it's being held during the pandemic. The "mini" marathon is going to take place over four days, beginning on Thursday and running through Sunday. However, the marathon will only be occurring on Saturday.

For those who don't want to run an in-person version of the race, there will also be a virtual format, allowing for more people to safely participate.

Here's everything else you need to know about this year's Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon.


Course Map

Derby Festival mini/Marathon @KDFMarathon

Curious about the elevation of this year’s course? Find the info on the updated map! For more information about the 2021 course and our Safety Protocols for this year: https://t.co/h6mWXu0tIO https://t.co/QAVpt6rEYA



If the course looks a bit different this year, that's because it's been modified to better allow for social distancing. So while the races will keep the same distances, the runners will be traveling around the Louisville area in different ways.

The start and finish line will be at Lynn Family Stadium, which is the case for both the marathon and "mini" marathon.

The start times are also going to be staggered, so there will be fewer runners in each area of the course at a time. Runners' start times were given to them in confirmation emails or can be found on RunSignUp.

While there's not going to be as much course support as in previous years, there will be self-serve water stations and time tracking, as well as support at the start/finish line.

It'll also be required that runners maintain a certain pace as part of the social-distancing protocols for the races. In the marathon, that means they'll need to be on a pace of 15 minutes per mile. And for the "mini" marathon, runners will need to keep a pace of 13 minutes, 45 seconds per mile.

Things will be a bit different, but the events will at least be taking place, unlike in 2020.

"We're just excited to be able to do something," Kentucky Derby Festival spokeswoman Aimee Boyd said, per Sean Baute of WAVE 3 News. "... When we were looking to do the race this year over multiple days, we knew we couldn't close all those downtown streets for four days in a row. This year's course is actually using walking paths and bike lanes, and trying to limit any street closures or impact on folks around those areas."

The marathon isn't the only Kentucky Derby Festival tradition that will be back this year, as there are plenty of other events taking place. A full list of those can be found at the festival's official site.

In past years, there have typically been close to 3,000 participants in the KDF Marathon, with participants coming from all over the United States and other countries. It hasn't been announced how many runners there will be in this year's race, but there should be plenty of people with interest after missing out last year.