The Bourbon Chase Race Report

Triathlons and road races are individual sports. Your races results are based strictly on how YOU perform. Doing The Bourbon Chase made me realize how much I miss team sports. I’ve been a member of baseball, football and basketball teams in the past…and I’ve always enjoyed the comradery of a group.
Our team consisted of twelve runners, six guys and six girls. We were divided up into two vans…one with the dudes and one with the chicks. Our van started off the race, running legs 1-6. Our start time was 2:00pm on Friday at Jim Beam Distillery. We arrived in plenty of time and enjoyed a few trips to the tasting room before the race started! Jeremy Becker, a late substitute for our team, ran leg #1. Once he started, the rest of us guys piled back in the van and drove to the hand-off spot. We waited for Jeremy to arrive and once he got there, he handed off the baton (slap bracelet) to Bill Marks. We then repeated the process for runners 3-6 (David Mull, Jeremy Brown, myself, and Shawn Wilson). Shawn finished up leg #6 at Maker’s Mark Distillery – where we handed off to the ladies van for legs 7-12.

Van #1 (R-L): Shawn, me, Matt (our driver), David, Jeremy Brown, Bill Marks, Jeremy Becker

My first leg was #5. It was a short, but very hilly adventure that I started just a few minutes before 5pm.  I felt good on the run and pushed it pretty hard up the climb. The elevation was so steep that my ears popped! First time that this has ever happened on a run. Once I reached the summit, the view was amazing. As I crested the hill and the view of miles and miles of hills and blue sky came into view and let out a “wow”, which was completely involuntary. The downhill was steeped than the climb and there were several times that I had to put the brakes on to keep from losing control. I sprinted to the hand-off spot and passed off to Shawn. We drove to Maker’s Mark and I enjoyed a few sips of my favorite bourbon.

Leg #5 – Little Pottershop of Horrors, the Sequel
4.7 miles
Rating – Difficult
Start Time – 4:52pm 
Time – 00:33:56 (7:13/mile pace)

After handing the reins off to van #2, we drove into Lebanon, KY and had some dinner at a little Italian spot called Ragetti’s. We loaded up on some pasta and split a few pitchers of Sam Adams Octoberfest before heading back to the van and driving to Danville for the exchange from van 2.
Once we got to Danville, we parked and tried to get some sleep…no such luck. Too much noise outside and inside the van to fall asleep. It was getting pretty late (close to midnight) and the fog was starting to roll in. We met up with the girls and waited for Terri to finish her leg. She came into town and handed off to Jeremy. We watched him run off into the fog and loaded back up to drive on down the road.

Jeremy Becker waiting in the fog for the hand-off…looking very confused!

This is the point where I started to get tired. The adrenaline had worn off and I was sleepy. I knew that I had my longest and most challenging leg coming up in a few hours and I struggled to find the energy to get excited. I watched all of the other guys run and before I knew it, I was standing on Main Street in Stanford, wearing a reflective vest, headlamp and flashing light…waiting for Jeremy Brown to come flying in.
He arrived a few minutes after 2:00am and I headed out into the darkness. Once I got out of town, the lights disappeared and the fog thickened. I could only see about 6 feet in any direction. My headlamp was bright enough that I could see the mist in the air from the fog. I decided to take a gel with me on this leg because of how long it was. I borrowed a hand-held water bottle from Jeremy Becker to wash it down since there are no aid stations on the course. I was holding a decent pace until mile 4. I started to lose my momentum and really struggled to keep the legs moving. Mile 6 was all uphill and it was brutal. I had the urge to just stop and lay down on the side of the road to sleep. I took the gel just before mile 6 and it must have kicked in because miles 6 & 7 felt good and I ran the last 1.7 miles at a pace of 7:20/mile. I handed off to Shawn at the Shell station in Junction City and raided the cooler for a sweet potato!

Leg #17 – Traveller’s Rest, but not for Runners!
8.6 miles
Rating – Difficult
Start Time – 2:03am  
Time – 1:10:13 (8:09/mile pace)

After Shawn handed back off to the ladies van in Danville, we drove up to Wild Turkey Distillery to try and sleep. We parked and the guys that brought sleeping bags found a spot in the grass to lay. I tried to stretch out on one of the van seats. I managed about 30 minutes of shuteye before it was time to head to Four Roses Distillery to start our final segment. We were all pretty drained at this point, but we knew that we each only had one leg left to run. With the sun now up and the fog gone, we got a little boost of energy and pushed it on home!

Our funky van!

I took the baton from Jeremy in the beautiful town of Versailles and started my final leg around 11:00am on Saturday. Despite my legs being fried, I was excited about this run. After a short uphill run out of town, I was out in horse country enjoying the view. The weather was perfect and I was feeling strong. Each mile was faster than the one before and I was passing lots of people. I cruised in and handed off to Shawn for the last time. I was excited to be down and ready to head to Woodford Reserve and enjoy some bourbon!

Leg #29 – Going to the Chapel
5.0 miles
Rating – Easy
Start Time – 11:08am  
Time – 00:35:45 (7:09/mile pace)

After a few hours at Woodford, we headed to the finish line in Lexington. We parked and walked to the YMCA to take a much needed shower. Sweating, drying off, laying around and then repeating the process two more times over the course of 24 hours without ever getting clean is not fun. I felt like I had about an inch of funk on my body. 
The finish line was a big party with bourbon tasting and beer drinking. We waiting around for the girls van to get there and all twelve of us crossed the finish line together. Our total time for the 200 miles was 28 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds. We finished 37th out of 179 teams in the Open Mixed Division and 74th out of 287 teams overall. 
This race was a great time and I really enjoyed the time with the guys in the van. We had lots of laughs and managed to make some good memories. I look forward to doing this race again next year!


Picture above is from the finish line. (Back row): Christy, Shawn, Jeremy Becker, Me, Jeremy Brown, Terri, Rachel, Bill, David. (Front row): Heidi, Madelyn, Rhonda, Allison, Matt

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