The Bourbon Chase Relay

I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks since I really didn’t have anything to write about.  Tonight I thought I would write about this weekend’s Bourbon Chase Relay.  For those that don’t know, The Bourbon Chase is described as follows on its website:

The Bourbon Chase celebrates the best of Kentucky.  It is a 200-mile journey across the Bluegrass State – through our historic bourbon distilleries, across our majestic horse country, and into our enchanting small towns.

You run the relay as a team with up to twelve members.  Our team, Alabama Moonshiners, consisted of eleven runners:  Jason, John, Allen, Scott, Glenn, Charles, Jen, Shannon, me, Jimmy and Warren.  The only person I knew before joining the team was our captain, Charles.  I did meet a number of the other guys when we ran together on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago.  When we were having a hard time finding runners, Charles picked up a couple of runners from the forum on The Bourbon Chase website.  That’s how we met Jen and Shannon, both of whom hail from Kentucky.  Even though we just met them, they fit right into the group.  We had so much fun.

Since we were still short one runner, three of us had to run an extra leg.  With these relays, there are thirty-six legs with each runners taking three legs each (assuming you have a full team of twelve).  Each team uses two vans with six runners per van.  Van #1 runs the first six legs then van #2 takes over for the next six legs and so on.  When each van is running its set of six legs, the runners in the other van have a chance to get something to eat or get some rest.

As the tenth runner, my three legs were legs were #10, #22 and #34.  In addition, I picked up leg #15.  My first leg started at about 7:30pm on Friday night in the small town of Springfield.  It was 5.8 miles that seemed to be almost all uphill.  To make it even more interesting, it started raining shortly after I started.  Before I knew it, I was running in a monsoon with a stiff wind along a major highway.  Each time a 18-wheeler went by, I thought I was going to be blown off the road in addition to the extra spray of water the truck threw at me.  Just before I finished the leg, the rain stopped.  Of course, I was totally drenched from head to toe.  Once we finished our first set of legs, I switched to van #1 since I was picking up leg #15.  That leg started just before midnight from Danville and was only 4.5 miles, again mostly on an uphill grade.  Just before John got to the transition to pass me the armband, the race officials starting holding runners.  They held us for about five minutes, which allowed about fifteen runners to back up at the transition.  When they finally let us go, it was almost like a 5K start.  We took off!  I worked my way ahead of most of the runners and got ahead of all but one of the runners before I finished the leg.  After van #1 finished that set of legs, I moved back to van #2.  Of course, my van #2 teammates got a chance to rest while I was with van #1 so they let me catch a couple of naps leading up to my third leg.  That leg started about 5:30am from Harrodsburg and was 5.1 miles that seemed like it too was all uphill.  I encountered a little rain during this leg but nothing like that first leg.  So far, I had run three legs and all three were in the dark.  I also felt that I ran all three really well.  With one leg to go, I knew I needed to eat since I had not eaten very much during the relay.  I made myself eat some stuff but I guess I didn’t eat enough.  My last leg started around 3:00pm from Midway and was my first run in daylight.  It also my longest leg at 8.2 miles.  A couple of miles into the leg, I felt really tired.  I kept pushing but realized that lack of fuel may become an issue.  I struggled from miles three through seven.  My pace really dropped off until I hit mile #7.  When I saw the sign signifying that there was one mile remaining on the leg, I got a second wind and pushed the pace back to where I had been during the first three legs.  Although I wasn’t pleased with my last leg, I was happy to be finished and felt like we did very well as a team.

Relays are such fun and you have no choice but to get to know your teammates.  After all, you’re trapped in a van with them for thirty hours or so.  The guys on Alabama Moonshiners are now good friends.  We bonded over our shared accomplishment.  What a blast!

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