The Norton Sports Health Great Pumpkin 10k is the second leg of the Louisville Sports Commission Fall Runathon. Started in 2013 this 10k race was the first held in the newly developed Parklands of Floyds Fork - now in it's 4th year the race has done well and continues to grow each year.
Packet Pick-up/ Expo: The packet pick up for the race was held at Academy Sports this year. It was a very simple affair with just the bib and shirt pickup and not much else. Being in a sporting goods store was pretty convenient though if you needed to pick up any last minute race provisions.
T-Shirts/Swag/Medal: The shirt for this race are technical material but they are only offered in men's sizes so I generally get a larger size so I can give it to the hubs or my dad. I did appreciate the bright yellow color though; if it had come in women's cut I would totally have worked it in to my regular running clothes!
The medal for this race has improved each year and I was definitely impressed this year. It was a very nice sized, spinner, with the city and date on the outer ring and the pumpkin spinning on the inner circle.
Aid Stations: Being an out-and-back 10k the course only had one aid station however it was placed so that you hit it twice. First at the 2 mile point and on your way back in at the 4 mile mark. The volunteers were friendly and paid close attention to getting as many cups cleared from the course as they could in between runners. Otherwise it was a pretty standard water stop.
Scenery & Course: The scenery of this course is definitely one of the highlights of the race. Running through the Parklands of Floyds Fork the course it nature-filled and if the weather cooperates, gorgeous at this time of year. I've done this run three times and though it's been everything from rainy and cold to sunny and perfectly "fall" I've always thought the course was pretty.
The course is an out and back course that runs on a combination of roadway and paved trails. The course feels a little narrow at first since you start out on a two lane roadway but once the runners hit their strides it thins out and is easily navigable.
Elevation: Though the course is mostly flat it does have a couple of pretty significant hills and a few bridges that you cross along the way. As you can see in the elevation chart there is a pretty dramatic incline right at the halfway point and then another right after.
Parking/Access: How well the parking goes for this race is VERY much determined by the weather. Since the race takes place in a park there aren't too many straight up parking lots that would be large enough to accommodate a couple thousand runners. So what the race directors and park management do is use two large fields for onsite parking. The lower field is within walking distance of the start and the upper area shuttles racers to the start. The problem is that when the weather has been or is wet the field can become pretty boggy from car tires, slick grass, and otherwise muddy conditions. I've seen people get stuck in mud in the worst case. This is definitely an area that could be improved upon but with limited access to paved parking I don't have any idea of a solution. I just cross my fingers that it doesn't rain and go about my running.
Race Experience: This race has been going on for 4 years now and the race director and staff have learned from each one and improved a bit each year. It's a wonderful way to kick off the fall Halloween season and get out an experience a gorgeous piece of park land we have here in our city. If the race organizers could just figure out a way to work out the parking and perhaps improve upon the t-shirt I would definitely be 100% satisfied with the race!
I really have enjoyed the Great Pumpkin 10k each time I've run it and I would absolutely recommend the race. Whether you're looking for an excuse to dress up a little early for Halloween or just looking for a longer fall race I would suggest checking it out.