LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Two popular Kentucky Derby Festival events took place Saturday morning.
KDF’s Great Balloon Race kicked off this around 7 a.m. along with the minimarathon and marathon, sponsored by GE Appliance.
“A great weekend for the city only leading up to the greatest weekend next weekend,” Louisville Tourism VP of Marketing Communications Stacey Yates said.
Both events drew crowds, with more than 8,000 runners participating in the mini and full marathon.
Born in Argentina now living in Kentucky for more than 20 years, this was Antonio Marchi’s first marathon win.
Celebrating the win with a bourbon in his hand, he said his strategy and training all paid off for this moment.
“I know that many runners do negative sprint races,” Marchi said. “They go slow at the beginning and then they speed up. I don’t do that. I just don’t know how to do that. That’s not my strategy.”
While runners hit the streets of downtown Louisville, some spectators were looking to the skies to see the hot air balloons in Saturday morning’s Great Balloon Race.
“This morning we had our Great Balloon Race,” Aimee Boyd with KDF said. “It’s one of the oldest events on the festival schedule. We were able to get over a dozen balloons up flying this morning. A beautiful morning for the balloons to launch.”
Despite the wind, all balloons were able to land safely.
Both races return as welcome sign for the first time in three years.
“It feels like truly the Kentucky Derby Festival is back in business,” Yates said.
Celebrations continue Sunday with the return of the 67th Pegasus Parade that kicks off at 3 p.m.
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