Do you have a friend or relative running in this Saturday's Kentucky Derby Festival mini or full marathon ? Make some posters, bring some noisemakers, and get the whole family out this Saturday morning to cheer on your favorite runners. The kids will love it—they can cheer "unleashed" and with abandon—and the runners, whether you know them or not, will only benefit from their enthusiasm.
The official reuniting area for runners and their families is, of course, at the finish line and Waterfront Park. Beginning at 11:00 am, Kroger's Fest-a-Ville on the Waterfront will be open with live music, food booths, and other fun events. But if you can drag yourself and the kids out of bed (the marathon and minimarathon start at 7:30 am), runners love to see encouraging faces along the course. Usually, unless your loved one is an elite runner who will be finishing quickly, there is time to set up an impromptu cheering section along the route and still make it back to Waterfront Park to congratulate your KDF mini or marathon runner.
Click here for a map  of the mini and marathon courses. Mile markers and water stops are listed. I think some great cheering areas that would still allow you enough time to get back to the reuniting area would be:
- Near mile 6 in Old Louisville (It's a beautiful place to hang out for an hour or so while you cheer on the runners.)
- Near mile 8 anywhere around Churchill Downs (Hey, the kids may not be joining you at Oaks or Derby this year, but at least they can say that they saw the Twin Spires a week before the big races!)
- Right before mile 9, after the runners have lapped Churchill Downs and the brave marathoners break off to run 17 more miles. The mini runners know they're in the home stretch, but the marathoners still have to make it to Iroquois Park and back downtown! What better time to cheer on friends and family!
Let the kids get creative with their signs; an inside joke or silly comment puts a welcome smile on all the runners' faces. I'm sitting out of this year's race, but you better believe my kids will be hoisting their "Run Daddy Run" posters with pride. Good luck to all the runners this year. We'll be cheering you on!
Go to www.derbyfestivalmarathon.com  for all information about this Saturday's race.
Registered runners can pick up their packets at the Running Wild Expo  at the Kentucky International Convention Center, Hall 2D on April 25 between 4:00-8:00 pm and April 26 between 11:00 am-9:00 pm.
Photo: courtesy of KDF Facebook page