The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon are decidedly the most celebrated and primed-for annual road races in Louisville, so it's no surprise that training options for these simultaneous races are as abundant and as varied as those who dream of running them.
There truly is a training program for every kind of runner or walker, some with strict schedules and professional training that bank as much as you'll spend on race registration, or more. Others are free with professional guidance, like the Jewish Sports Medicine Healthy Lifestyle Training Program  Louisville.com brought you on Monday.
But, many running (and even walking) enthusiasts in the Derby City easily overlook smaller, casual groups that leave the bulk of the training up to the athlete, and meet just weekly for organized group workouts, typically the long weekly runs that are necessary for distance training.
Louisville's Runners on a Mission (ROAM) is one such group, founded in 2005 by Stacy Cohen, a registered nurse and wellness coach. This month ROAM celebrates its sixth anniversary and its "mission to achieve fitness through cardiovascular exercise" with its annual Reunion and Recruitment event.
The co-ed, walker-friendly group is as diverse in participant age as it is fitness level, although most members are runners. Team members are expected to accumulate three 30-minute workouts per week on their own, then join the group Saturday mornings for the weekly group run or walk, rotating locations each month.
ROAM members pay race fees as any participant would, and are asked to purchase a team shirt to wear on race days; otherwise, general membership and group race training are free.
If the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon  or miniMarathon are on your radar, it's not too late to begin training, although you should have a recent and consistent running or walking history before beginning any group's Derby-related training program.
ROAM's Reunion and Recruitment event happens this Friday, January 7, 2011 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Chestnut Street YMCA, 930 Chestnut St., Louisville. Anyone interested in ROAM is welcome to attend, and will learn about the group's new 2011 initiatives, including mall walking, indoor running, and online activity tracking.
In addition to learning about ROAM's Derby Marathon and miniMarathon (half-marathon) training program, would-be members can also learn about training for each leg of the upcoming pre-Derby season Triple Crown of Running .
To learn more about Runners on a Mission, visit ROAMinLouisville.com , or contact Stacy Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contact the writer at email@example.com .
Photo: Courtesy of Runners on a Mission