I did a little skip, hop and jump out of work last Thursday evening, positively giddy about the weekend ahead. First on the agenda? Two days running through Kentucky as part of a team in the 2017 Bourbon Chase.
I did this race last year with Mark and some friends and had such a blast, I knew I would be doing it again if I had the chance. For those of you that have never done a Ragnar race before, but you are interested—this one is for you. These races are so awesome because there is a lot more to it than just running. It’s also part camping, team challenge and really puts your navigating skills to the test!
The Bourbon Chase starts off at Jim Beam in Clermont, about an hour and 15 minute drive from Lexington. It works like this: Your team of 12 people has 2 vans with 6 runners in each plus a driver. Van 1 starts out at Jim Beam with runner number 1. The van then leaves that location, and rushes to the next spot on the map to pick up runner 1 and drop off runner 2. The van operates this way until all 6 runners have run their portion and runner 6 has handed off to runner 7 who is in van 2. Van 1 is then considered “off” until runner 12 hands back off to runner 1. There are 3 rounds for each van, so each runner will get out and run 3 times. This whole things lasts for about 30 hours or so (in our case anyway).
I was runner 3 this time, so I was in van 1. We visited Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Makers Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. If you are thinking that the Bourbon Chase isn’t for you because you don’t like bourbon, fear not! Very little bourbon was consumed, but a couple places had some tastings and actually made some delicious cocktails with bourbon as the main ingredient. This race isn’t about drinking and running – it’s all about running through some of the most beautiful places Kentucky has to offer and bonding with your team. The bourbon distillery is an added bonus that adds character to the experience.
You may be wondering about the… ahem… sleeping arrangements when one is tearing through Kentucky in a white van in a sea (over 2,000!!) of other white vans. The first break for us was in the cute little town of Danville. We found a restaurant there on the main drag where we got a solid dinner, then went to get some rest in a bank parking lot. I had bought a Marmot sleeping bag the week before, and also had an inflatable sleeping pad, so I felt prepared. Here’s my view as I lie down to get some sleep:
Pretty, huh? After our second round of running was over we drove to Wild Turkey to get some real sleep. By now it was about 2am and the parking attendants there instructed us to park in a field with very long wet grass. Why oh why didn’t I bring a tarp!? I grabbed my stuff and wandered around looking for a spot with some shorter grass where I could lie down. Check out the view from my sleeping spot:
Creepy, right? That building is used for storing the bourbon as it ages, and I know you can’t tell in the picture, but the moon was big and spooky AF. I slept terribly, it was so cold and there was so much moisture in the air that the condensation soaked everything. I even had to be sure to cover up my sneakers so they would remain dry. It was quite the adventure. I love this race, but there are few things I hate more than having to get up and head straight to a mile long line for a Port-a-Potty. Ick.
After van 2 showed up at about 6:30am we were on the road again for our 3rd legs. I had a beautiful run this time in gorgeous sunny weather through a neighborhood of big houses and green fields, picket fences and Kentucky horses. It was so much fun.
When my team handed off to van 2 we drove the rest of the way back to downtown Lexington. I had to jet straight from there on to my next adventure (later this week on the blog) but the rest of them all hung out at the finish line drinking beers and waiting for van 2. The finish line at this event is beyond awesome. They shut down the streets outside Rupp Arena for one big party.
For anyone thinking of doing a race like this, all I have to say is that you’ll be missing out if you don’t. It is such a cool experience. I met and made new friends, drank some good beer and bourbon, ran 13 miles, went to some places I had never been and had a blast. We will most likely be looking for a couple runners next year, if you are interested in running the Bourbon Chase and you know you can be in Kentucky next October, hit me up!