The Derby spirit was alive and well in Louisville early Saturday morning. Hot air balloons colored the sky and sounds from the Churchill Downs bugler fueled the energy on Main Street. No, he wasn’t calling the horses to post, he signaled thousands of runners to their corral positions for the Kentucky Derby Festival mini/MARATHON.
Participants relied on Louisville Pure Tap® to stay hydrated as they raced through the city.
Louisville Water employees spent countless hours over many weeks inspecting the race route for any maintenance or repair work, securing meter lids, and ensuring access to high-quality Pure Tap at 10 hydration stations on marathon day.
“We sanitized and flushed hoses and did everything that we needed to do to be precautionary for the health and safety of all the runners,” said Plumber Leader Shawn Shaw.
Among those runners were several Louisville Water employees.
For Communications Specialist Kathleen Speicher, it was a full circle moment. “I remember being a little girl and helping my aunt hand out bananas and water to the runners in the rain. I never dreamed that years later, my aunt would be cheering me on as I ran in the 50th Kentucky Derby Festival mini. It was an amazing experience!”
While it was Speicher’s first mini, Metering Specialist Kendrick Ford is a veteran and looks forward to it every year.
“Just running with all the people. It’s great camaraderie. The energy is amazing! Louisville does a great job on the mini-marathon,” Ford said.
Nate Frederick, a field customer service representative, agreed. “What this city turns into during the mini/MARATHON is spectacular. How everyone comes out to support complete strangers is incredible. We couldn’t do it without the great people of this community.”
Distribution associates Denise Vincent and Devinn Tytus took the plunge and signed up together.
“I like the sense of accomplishment. I like doing something that’s hard because running is hard for me,” Vincent said, although she enjoys running.
Tytus stepped out of her comfort zone and succeeded. “I don’t know why, but this was a very emotional experience for me. It was harder than I imagined. My only goal was to finish and I did. With our group sending me those supportive messages, the crowd being so encouraging, and even the city workers and our Louisville Water coworkers cheering me on, it really kept me going.”
Finishing the mini was a big accomplishment for Sarah Kalna, Senior Learning and Development Specialist. “While I am a bit tired of the longer distances, I am so proud of how far I’ve come. Three years ago, I was told I would never run a 5K again, but I overcame. Last April, when I ran my first half, it was brutal. Nowadays, I can pump out 13.1 and still manage to have a great time. Seeing my work friends at the Louisville Water stop was the icing on the cake.”
Kalna is talking about the water stop outside Louisville Water headquarters on Third Street.
That’s where Mike Meyer, one of Louisville Water’s project engineers, helped keep the water flowing. The day is bittersweet for Meyer who’s run 30 mini-marathons in his life. “It felt like I should be getting up that morning and participating. So being able to participate in the water stop was great. It makes you want to cheer ‘em on and we do!”
Louisville Water estimated it served roughly 10,000 gallons of Louisville Pure Tap® to runners on the Kentucky side of the course this year.
Here’s a closer look at how Louisville Water prepared for race day.