Run the Bluegrass again? Yep! But not the half. I signed up for the 7-miler.

If you need a reminder, this course is hilly. That’s not any kind of exaggeration. I’m not saying “hilly” and meaning “a few, small inclines.” I mean hills. Don’t think the 7-miler has fewer hills just because it’s a shorter course.

Don’t let the hills scare you away from this race, though. The course is beautiful. Plus, even runners who were in the first and second waves (I was in the fifth wave) were slowing to walk up the hills, so you won’t be alone in that.

Kind of recap: Get there early. The organizers recommend you get there before 8 a.m., which is an hour before starting time, and it’s solid advice! They do have a race-day expo that opens at 7:30 a.m., so you don’t have to be bored if that’s your concern about being too early. But you risk not getting good parking or not getting to the port-a-potty in good time (seriously, the lines for all the port-a-potty and restroom areas were looong after 8 a.m.). Also, be aware that because of when this race takes place (late March or early April), the weather in Kentucky is usually still chilly and rainy, so dress accordingly. (What I’m saying is that it rained while we were running.)

There are three races: the Yearling, the 7-Miler, and the Half. The Yearling (3.65 miles) starts first. Their route breaks off from the rest before the first mile. The 7-miler and Half runners start together in waves. This year there were seven waves, but I’m not sure if that’s typical or if they sometimes have more or less.

You get your first major hill in the first half mile, and it pretty much doesn’t stop. You run out of Keeneland and hit the horse farms.

The 7-miler and half courses split at approximately 3.5 miles and then rejoin before mile 4 (half’s mile 10). At mile 5, you’re running back into Keeneland.

The course doesn’t allow for many spectators except for the volunteers at the water stations and the horses. But unlike Ohio where I had complaints, there are so many runners with you that it never feels lonely. There are plenty of spectators in the last mile cheering you on and encouraging you to give it your all.

I can’t be sure if it’s because I did the shorter course instead of the half or if it’s because I trained more than last time, but the outcome was much better than when I last did Run the Bluegrass. My legs weren’t in a significant amount of pain. I was smiling wide after, pleased with my effort and results. I even managed a 4.5-mile walk the next day (okay, to be fair, my legs were too sore to do a lot of running during this 4.5).

While I admit I’ve never taken advantage of the extra stuff, RtB offers a lot of Kentucky experiences for runners like tours, parties, and tastings. These are extras you have to pay for, but they’re really nice opportunities that I may do next year.

Oh, yeah. I’m doing it again.

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