A 200 Mile Relay: A Love Letter to the Bourbon Chase
Dear Bourbon Chase,
We have written about you before. KB tried here to explain to non-relay runners (and just non-runners period) what it is like to run a 200 mile overnight relay with 12 team members in the middle of Kentucky. That is a hard thing to explain. But funnily enough, it is almost even harder to try to explain to ourselves why we keep doing this.
We just received a terrific email from you telling us that we are in the Bourbon Chase. Again. For the EIGHTH time. Yes, you read that correctly. EIGHT years in a row. That is a seriously big deal. Because there are a LOT of people that want to do this — sleep deprived running through the middle of the night living out of a minivan. You even had to institute a lottery system to handle the entries. We are LUCKY.
Even so, I received the news with mixed feelings, because while the ‘Chase is AWESOME, there are those moments, each year, where I feel like this:
It’s that third, last, leg that gets you. Every. Single. Time. See, the first leg is like — whoa, I’m so happy this is going to be so fun! The second leg is like, whoa, I’m running in the middle of the dark in the middle of nowhere Kentucky this is epic! Then, the third leg is like, whoa, I’m falling asleep standing up, my stomach hurts, I have to — what? — I have to run? Again? When is this over? I never want to do this again.
Then, for some reason, we do it again. And again. And now that I look back at the photos from over the years, I think I know why.
While the team has changed slightly in composition each year (I have had the privilege of being one of only two people, me and guest dude Mike, to be on this team in some capacity every year. Every year), and while we are tired, and while we are hungry, and while we stink, these photos show people who are having fun. Who have stories. Who want and have adventure. These are my friends. And to have the privilege of this experience with them every year is one to be treasured and appreciated.
AND, we started so many firsts in this race. So many things we see folks flattering us by copying every year. It’s cool to be flattered.
So thank you Bourbon Chase. To celebrate, here’s our seven year Bourbon Chase history, and here’s to hoping year eight will be just as great!
2009 – It all begins.
Introducing: Team HealthWay
We had a ghetto red scuba divers’ van with no interior lights. I’m still not sure how we drove it.
We had no clue what we were doing. We packed way to much stuff.
But we had matching shirts and jackets! (Thanks Jay!)
It rained. A lot.
It was also cold.
We felt like only high school students can on a bus trip, staying up past sanity and experiencing the blanket of darkness that is running on roads far, far from any towns or streetlights — counting the roadkill.
But we busted out the tunes and somehow made it to the end.
So, here’s our first first. Note, Mark and Shannon introducing the Maker’s Mark dipped top hats. Yes everyone, they were the FIRST ones to do that. Yes, we started that. I have photographic evidence. Right here.
This was the year Kevin and Jay fell asleep in the port potties at Wild Turkey. They were tired. The potties were clean. And they were warm.
This is the year we crashed at MB’s parents house in the middle of the night to sleep — thinking her parents were out of town. They were not.
This was the year Brennan was somehow able to sleep on the coolers in the back of the van while the music was roaring up front.
This was the year Michelle ran the Mr. T Hill (“I pity the fool”) and did 10 pushups afterwards.
When it was over, we ate french fries and chocolate cake and we said that was super fun, but we’d never do this again.
2010 – VanOneRocks
Still Team HealthWay
This year, Van 1 borrowed MB’s law firm’s conversion van, mounted speakers to the roof (I won’t talk about how), and became the first van in the Bourbon Chase to provide mobile tunes.
Yes, we started that.
This was the year I drove Van 1 instead of running (torn meniscus), and Brennan told me the wrong way to leave Danville and we all got car sick on the road he had us on. We will never forget that Brennan. Nev-er. (He drives for a living. I’m not sure how either.)
This was the year Van 1 woke up late to leave for our last big transition and Brennan had to drive the van at speeds on the edge of legality to get us to Woodford Reserve.
This was the year we ate banana bread at Eric’s house at 5:00 in the morning and discovered, um, we will not discuss what we discovered.
Oh, and this was the year Mark G. walked on water. Long story. But it was because it rained, again.
Oh, and we said we’d never do this again.
2011 – VanOneRocks harder
Team Drink to the your Health Way f/k/a Team HealthWay
Oh yes, this year, we got clever with the team name. AND, the awesome green van was back.
And. We. Decorated. It.
Yes, I know. The creativity is astounding. But, that year, the speakers and music got more sophisticated, the green van seriously rocked it.
I’m so glad I was not in Van 2 this year. I think this was the year Shannon’s van (Van 2) quit working if they took it out of drive. I think this is the year Van 2 had to send guest dude Mike off on his leg without him knowing if the van would be there to pick him up and had to send mustache Mike along in another team’s van to the next exchange point while they tried to get the van going again . . .
This might have been the year Chris complained because we always gave him the same (the hardest) legs of the whole ‘Chase. (It’s his own fault for running sub 6 minute miles. Seriously, what else would we do with that speed?) Or maybe that was each year?
This was the year Will shook it like a polaroid picture.
And this might be the year Van 2 started calling everyone on the other teams “Sheila.” I don’t know why. I still don’t know why.
We said we’d never do this again.
2012 – More Cowbell?
I think we are still Team Drink to the your Health Way f/k/a Team HealthWay
The green van is back, now slightly more ghetto (don’t you love that roof repair?). Still rocking the speakers though.
Now, with more experience (we are old hands at this by now), we up the fun quotient with cameras and stops to cheer along runners from the other teams. We got some great stuff this year — like Mark G. running hard through the night. It’s these moments in the night, with all the blinking lights stretching to the horizon on the road in front of you, where you think, this is just so very awesome.
Then KB (of course in Van 2 – yep, I’m still in Van 1) misses a handoff . . . (Maybe because Les didn’t have a shirt on? Mike just seems confused.)
But we rock it into the finish.
OK, again, I promise, we really did start so many things in this race, and here’s another one. In the literal middle of nowhere at a transition point, Mark G. found a small country store and bought a real live cowbell. Not one of those little tin things they hand out a races. A heavy duty, real live cow bell that had been on a real live cow. And he rang it. All. Night. Long.
And, again, I have photographic evidence — see that cow bell in the front row!
This year, it was somehow hot, but also wet and muddy? How does that happen?
This was the year Kevin was injured during his first leg and could not run the rest of the race. He had to sit in the van for the rest of the whole thing (really not fun), while Will and I ran his legs, in addition to our own. Will ended upon running a marathon.
This was the year it was epically muddy at Woodford Reserve, and Mandy gunned the van, bald tires and all, up the pressed-grass, mud-covered hill to park while we blared the theme from Star Wars out of our speakers. We might have had an audience.
This was the year Mark G. made a movie. And it was – awesome. Seriously.
We said we’d never do this again.
2013 – Does it really matter?
We finally start getting into this team name thing: we are now Team Does It Really Matter? f/k/a Drink to your Health Way f/k/a Team HealthWay. Yes, we take this name thing very seriously.
Hey, it worked with the 60’s theme, and we were tired. And well, it was fun to respond to folks who asked for your team name with “Does it really matter?” and have them look at you like you were stupid.
This year, we finally had a new Van 1 (I move to Van 2, I’m writing this, so I get to say these things.) And they are having a big time with the 60’s theme at Jim Beam – check out those shades man, groovy.
And we get this whole decorating thing now (but really, I just love this picture of Jenny!)
Van 2, f/k/a Van 1, is looking a little worse than wear this year by the time we get to Woodford Reserve, we realize this whole going last thing is for the birds.
While LA looks like a rock star rolling into Woodford Reserve (this was just a really good year for pictures).
And then I got the “leg of glory” — which means I get to sit on a barrel and try to look all cutesy in the team photo.
This was the year we didn’t have the green van (sad face, it got sold). This was the year the van we rented as its replacement wasn’t there and at the literal last minute Brennan had drive to Georgetown to get Deborah’s mini van for Van 2. But we learned how to mount speakers on the top of Deborah’s minivan. Pretty awesome.
This was Annette’s first year on our team. We gave her the easy legs so she’d have fun and come back.
This was Mike’s year when he drove.
This was the year they gave us our first late start time. When Van 2 (that’s me) got to Maker’s Mark, it was pitch back dark and there were only 6-10 teams there. (Usually, we arrive to at least 50 teams and roll through the parking lot blasting the Beastie Boys Sabotage. Hey, it’s a thing.) And the teams that were there were all dudes — the tall leggy olympic marathoner (or at least collegiate cross country) level type runners. These were NOT our people. Our people drive vans decorated like cows and sharks. They don’t warm up before their legs. These guys did. We ran like demons were chasing us because we were scared we’d come in last.
And it was cold. (I wore a wool sweater.) And it rained.
And, again, we said we’d never do it again.
2014 – Disco through the 70’s
Team Does It Really Matter? f/k/a Drink to your Health Way f/k/a Team HealthWay.
Hey, we’d been doing this a long time, you can’t expect us to be creative with the team name every year. Besides, it worked with the 70’s theme too.
We decide that 70’s means sparkly headbands, and Mike is forced to take part too. Hmmmm, do I see a bunch of the future skortaholics in this shot?!?! (By the way, I’m back to Van 1, hooray!)
This was the year we put Mike in a van with 5 women. The looks of pure pity he received from Dudes when we’d pile out of the van were priceless. He was even offered rides in other vans when they heard how whiney we were.
Hey, see those speakers up there on top of the van! And we drove Mike to carrying small umbrellas (notice that it is raining, again).
And here’s our first for this year. The tunnel of love photo. Yep, thanks to Frank, we started that too — for Annette as she finished the Mr. T leg. She needed to know we loved her. Really.
This year was Mindy’s arrival in Kentucky and her first ‘Chase, and man, did she bring it with the costumes, van decorations, and all around planning.
This was the year they gave us such a late start time, that even staying within our very accurately projected finish time, we were not going to get to the finish before the bourbon tasting (ye gads, that is unaccetapable). There were only, like, 5 other teams out on the road with us, and the powers that be gave Van 2 permission to “fast track” their last legs. That took some serious organization. I can’t even describe what they did. But thank goodness Mindy and Michelle were in Van 2. (Sorry mustache Mike, Jay, Mark, and Frank, you know you didn’t get that done.)
This is the year we let LA drive and she almost ran over MB and told us she couldn’t see at night.
This is the year LA puked in the van, shook it off, and ran her third leg.
This was the year Mark W.’s wife Susan made us breakfast, and even buttered the toast. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
Oh, and guess what, it RAINED.
We said, seriously, we are NOT doing this again. But then . . .
2015 – We’re Baaaack!
Well, then a strange thing happened. We started this little blog called “Skortaholics,” and we thought, well, we can do this ONE MORE YEAR. Just one more year. For the blog. So we registered for the lottery, and frankly were shocked when we got in.
Team Name: Skortaholics f/k/a Team Does It Really Matter? f/k/a Drink to your Health Way f/k/a Team HealthWay
So, if we are going to do this, we are going to do it RIGHT. This year, vans are decorated, Glitter Skirts are worn, and the Pro Compression Gibblers are out in their full multi-colored striped glory. The weather was perfect. It was, well, really great.
Except it looks like Van 1 started out by wrecking — nice duct tape repair job guys (yep – you guess it, I’m in Van 2 again).
We made the dudes wear Glitter skirts and the socks. Yep, all of them. Mike and Will:
Frank loves his pink skirt.
Brennan strikes a pose.
Mark W. learns how to put on the Gibblers.
LA brings in the post-race selfie.
And we all show off our skirts and socks! Rock that Pro Compression!
This was the year MB ran the ‘Chase 4 days after completing IRONMAN® Louisville.
This was the year Mark W. puked up a pound of bacon just before running his third leg.
This was the year IT DID NOT RAIN.
Everyone WANTED to do this again.
2016 – ????
AND WE GET TO! I guess you should never say never? I don’t know what 2016 will bring, but I am sure there will be high points, low points, crazy points, more banned drivers (sorry Annette, Deborah, and LA), and more punch drunk craziness.
And you know, I can’t wait.
Thank you, sincerely,