KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 2021 Garmin Kansas City Marathon takes off this Saturday after the annual event was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But this year, Kansas City’ largest race is being held in person once again with new courses for runners to tackle. The biggest change? All the races begin and end outside Kansas City’s famed Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Organizers expect thousands to participate this year.
If a 5K, 10K, half marathon or full marathon through some of Kansas City’s best neighborhoods sounds fun, there’s still time to register.
But if you’re not planning to take part, these four races could very likely have a big impact on traffic throughout downtown, Midtown, the Country Club Plaza and even Brookside and Waldo.
If you live in or drive through these areas frequently, you might have already seen the “Kansas City Marathon route” signs lining some streets.
The full and half marathons start at 7 a.m. The 10K starts at 7:30 a.m., and the 5K starts 15 minutes later. There’s a 6-hour limit for race participants, so at most, you can expect the Kansas City Marathon to go on until about 2 p.m.
All four races start and finish on Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard just to the south of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, so you can expect the most congestion there, especially when the races begin and end.
The courses are closed to traffic; however, Kansas City police may open sections of the course to let
vehicles cross when there are gaps and it’s safe, so all hope isn’t lost for drivers.
We’ll break down all four race routes so Kansas City residents and those passing through can be prepared. Plan some extra time into your drive.
After starting on Cleaver II Boulevard, the 5K course takes off west toward the Country Club Plaza and 47th Street. Runners will go south on Pennsylvania Avenue before eventually moving onto Brookside Boulevard.
They’ll eventually loop around to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for some great views of Brush Creek then come back up Troost before completing their loop on Cleaver II Boulevard.
See the full route below:
Like the 5K, after starting on Cleaver II Boulevard, the 10K course takes off west toward the Country Club Plaza and 47th Street. But from there, the course gets different.
Participants in the 10K will continue on, not turning south until Roanoke Parkway. Then they’ll make a fun trip up and down Ward Parkway to soak up the scenery of Brush Creek before heading down Sunset Drive.
The 10K route then takes participants to another popular Kansas City site, Loose Park, before heading back to the Plaza via 51st and Oak streets. Participants will once again pass Brush Creek on MLK Jr. Boulevard before looping back up Troost to the finish line.
See the full route below:
Half marathon route
At 13.1 miles, the half marathon kicks things into gear for participants — and drivers — since the course now moves from the Plaza all the way to downtown Kansas City and back again.
Runners will head west on Cleaver II Boulevard/47th Street before heading north on Roanoke Parkway and then shooting over to Westport Road.
Drivers can expect a big impact on traffic as participants head north on Broadway, Wyandotte Street and Kessler Road before shifting back onto Broadway as they move through the Crossroads District.
Sixth Street is where runners will turn east to start making their loop back around. Drivers should expect more closures on Walnut, 11th and Oak streets — along with a long stretch of 18th Street — as participants work their way south.
If your plans take you on The Paseo, heads up that it will largely be closed from 18th Street to Armour Boulevard as participants make their way down the street.
Harrison Parkway and Gillham Road will also be closed as half marathon runners wrap up the course and loop back around to the finish line on Cleaver II Boulevard.
The first half of the full marathon is the same as the half marathon, so drivers should expect a lot more participants in this northern loop. .
Full marathon route
If you’re looking for a recap of the first half of the full marathon, see the half marathon route above. The first 13.1 miles of this road race are exactly the same.
It’s not until participants make their way back to Cleaver II Boulevard that the full marathon course will split off on its own.
From there, runners will head south on Troost Avenue and west on MLK Jr. Boulevard before eventually jig-jagging down to Brookside Boulevard where a long stretch of the road will be closed.
Participants will take Huntington Road over to start long stretches up and down Ward Parkway and 75th Street, where drivers should expect major traffic impacts.
After moving back up Ward Parkway, participants will move over to Loose Park before taking 51st and Oak streets back to MLK Jr. Boulevard.
Finally, drivers can once again expect to find participants heading up Troost Avenue to wrap up the full marathon on Cleaver II Boulevard.