Bourbon Chase: Reflections on a 200-mile relay
In early October the last few years (excluding, of course, 2013 when I was weeks away from delivering my petite Diablo, I mean, little bundle of joy, and had no expectation of running), I’ve struggled to explain to my coworkers and non-running friends what I’m up to when I say I’m running the Bourbon Chase.
I get a few jokes about running while drinking bourbon.
I get asked how far it is — 200 miles, I say, with the qualification that it is a relay and there are 12 of us covering that distance.
Sometimes, I try to explain the logistics – each team has 2 vans, with six runners each. There are 36 legs to the race, so each van runs three times, and the vans alternate after each run. In other words, if you’re in van 1, you and each of your van-mates run, then van 2 and the runners in that van run. Once they’re done, van 1 is up again and the cycle continues.
“But what do you do when you’re not running?”The general answer is you are either in the van going to the next drop off/pick up point, or you’re waiting while the other van completes their runs, which is hopefully in a spacious, dry spot, like a former van-mate’s house in Lancaster. The real answer is:
You are cheering on your teammates and other runners. You are picking out tunes to motivate tired runners and spectators. You are willing your van to start. You are searching for the nearest port-a-pot. You are eating, or talking about eating. You are talking about running clothes. You are studying the map for your leg, praying that you don’t get lost on your run. You are frantically searching for your body glide, headlamp or other last minute gear. You are waiting for your ride, hoping your van finally started.
You are arguing about who does and who does not get to drive. You are regretting letting someone drive.
You are walking around towns in the middle of the night, forgetting what time it is and wondering why the soap store isn’t open at 2 a.m. You laugh and joke and collect stories and videos:
But I don’t mention any of this. They won’t understand.
Instead, I talk about how the course runs through many of Kentucky’s historic bourbon distilleries and quaint small towns, starting in Clermont at Jim Beam and ending in downtown Lexington. Even then, I usually get a quizzical look and we move on to another topic.
It’s hard to explain, but it’s oh so much fun.
Have you done a relay race?
What’s your favorite relay race?
How do you explain the experience to non-runners?