Where’s Harvey? Mini Should Always Go South

The Fix, my book about college hoops

My guess is Kentucky Derby Festival president Mike Berry has never laced up a shoe, run the Mini Marathon, suffered the rolling hills of Iroquois Park, then, finally, reached the last hill and saw paradise waiting along Southern Parkway, a long, flat stretch of heaven lined with shouting fans and little children holding “I love daddy” and “You can do it, Pat” signs for their loved ones.

My guess is he’s never descended onto Southern Parkway a little bloodied to only be resurrected by the masses who go ten deep all the while urging the miniMarathon runners to their final destination downtown.

My guess he’s never trained alone, listened to people ask him why he wanted to run 13.1 miles, suffered leg cramps, suffered colds, suffered the mind games that play with a long-distance runner. If he had, then he’d know the euphoric feeling the south end neighbors provide the miniMarathon runners during one of the best half marathons in the nation.

Or was, I should say.

My guess he’s listening to all the wrong people–sponsors, police security, politicians, neophytes–in the Kentucky Derby Festival’s decision to eliminate Iroquois Park from the Mini Marathon course.

My guess he hasn’t talked with Harvey Sloane lately, Louisville’s former Mayor, the man who breathed life into the event. Or Rick and Mary Lou Northern, the two people who mapped out the original mini course and residents of the south end. I can’t imagine a conversation without the word stupid being used.

My guess he hasn’t talked to the runners. If he had, he’d know that the newly designed course is boring, without history and lacking any diversity.

It’s too flat, Mike. This isn’t a mall. Who wants to run down Fourth St? What challenge is that? Any good course has challenges. Show me one in the new design, please.

I wonder if Heartbreak Hill will soon be removed from the Boston Marathon. I wonder if Ben Fertic, CEO of Ironman, will soon remove the lava fields from the Ironman World Championship course?

My guess is that Mike Berry doesn’t know what he’s doing. Doesn’t know the south end-residents are the heart and soul of the city, the ones who filled Freedom Hall on cold wintry nights when the Cards once played there. The ones who support Churchill Downs on thin summer evenings. The ones who yearly come out in droves to watch the Ford Ironman Louisville, an event I brought to town five years ago and now the largest Ironman event in the WORLD.

My guess is that Dan Johnson wasn’t involved in the decision making. Councilman Johnson might not be your favorite, but the man gets it.

My guess is that Swag Hartel wasn’t either. The long-time running proponent has to be sitting in his store shaking his head at the absurdity.

My guess is we’ll soon be watching the Steamboat Race from the shores of Rough River.

And my guess is that the word stupid will be used then, as well.