Chasing Bourbon

Chasing Bourbon

The start of our wave at the Bourbon Chase.
The start of our wave at the Bourbon Chase.

This past weekend was the Bourbon Chase relay.  I’ve participated in several relays — Ragnar Road Relays, Ragnar Trail and the Hood to Coast relay.  I have to say, the Bourbon Chase relay was by far and away the best relay I’ve done to date.  I would even say it’s one of the best run-cations I’ve ever had.  The event itself was very well organized, there were tons of volunteers who had answers to all of our questions, and the number of teams was just right.  I love that the race director hasn’t succumbed to adding in more teams under runner pressure or financial incentive.  The limitation in teams meant that there wasn’t bad traffic on the small country roads (like the Hood to Coast), and there was always plenty of parking, port-a-potties and accom

Jim Beam Distillery
Jim Beam Distillery

modations for all five thousand runners.

The folks at Ragnar Relay just purchased this event and I’m hoping that they keep the spirit and the size of the event the same as much as possible.  My only wish is to bring back women’s specific race shirts to all of the Ragnar relays (including the Bourbon Chase).  I will never in my wildest dreams fit into a “uni-sex” shirt, even in x-small.  In fact, I didn’t get a race shirt for this very reason…which is a bit of a bummer, however I need another race shirt like I need another bike. (which, I can make a case for more of both at any time!)

Each year there is a race “theme” that all participants are encouraged to embrace in costume, last year I hear it was the “roaring 20’s” and everyone dressed up as flappers, gangsters and the like.  This year the theme was “toga party”, and everyone brought their greek best to all of the events.

On Thursday night, there was a welcoming party at our first distillery — Peerless Distillery.  This was our first opportunity for Bourbon sampling…and drinking.  They also make moonshine and my favorite is the Coconut Cream flavored moonshine.  Who knew?

Bourbon Chase Welcome Party
Bourbon Chase Welcome Party

Prior to signing up for this event, I didn’t know that there was a “Kentucky Bourbon Trail”.  I’m not even sure I’ve drank Bourbon before this event either, however, I did some product testing and realize I do like bourbon!  The race starts early on Friday morning at the Jim Beam Distillery, the

Heaven Hill
Heaven Hill

first thing you notice is the expanse of land that most of these distilleries inhabit.

Each distillery on the route was open for tours, tastings and gift shopping.  At each stop I wondered to myself “is 9:30am too early for bourbon?”, “is 7:30am too early for Wild Turkey?”.  Overwhelmingly the answer to these questions was always no, it is not too early.  You’ve not slept, you’ve not eaten a proper meal and you’ve run many miles…have some bourbon!

I decided I do like bourbon straight up, mixed into a cocktail and flavored.  Of course one of my favorites is the Wild Turkey Honey Stinger with just a touch of ghost pepper.  And then there was the Pumpkin Cream from Evan Williams!  I hear it’s perfect in a cheese cake.

Exchange 25
Morning view at one of the runner exchange points

Of course while you are living in a van for 30 hours, you will at some point be punch-drunk from lack of sleep, small amounts of food and lots of running.  You can read some of the hilarious things said in our van by reading through my twitter feed.

The course runs through horse farms, distilleries and quaint little downtowns from Louisville, KY ending in Lexington, KY.  Depending on which van you are in, you’ll get to check out Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Evan Williams, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve and Town Branch Distilleries.  I was runner number 5 in van #1 and ran 4.7, 5.5, and 7.7.  The last leg ran through rolling hills of horse farms and ended at the Woodford Reserve distillery.  It was pretty warm, humid and I was as they say “running on empty”.  However, when I finished I was so happy I knew I’d do it all over again tomorrow.

Maker's Mark Exchange
Maker’s Mark Exchange

 

The only downside to the relay, is there are several legs (especially the night legs) where the runner has to run on the side of a highway without much shoulder and traffic speeding by at high speeds.  Only a small portion of my second leg was on a main highway, and I have to say it wasn’t my favorite part and I was a little nervous for my safety.  It could have been also the fact that my team van passed me four times and didn’t even see me or cheer me on. (guilt trip thrown in here for good measure.  🙂

Wild Turkey Exchange
Wild Turkey Exchange

Our team Whiskey River was very fortunate to be sponsored by AARP — which gave us plenty of excuses to be bad drivers and get port-a-pottle privileged parking (mostly kidding).  I didn’t really know what AARP was until this trip, and learned that it’s a great organization advocating for people 55 and older but also now wanting to change it’s image and recruit younger members (like me!) as well.  I am very thankful for their sponsorship and support of our team.

If you are asked to drive to Kentucky and run the Bourbon Chase, my advice is to say YES! and then start training your legs and your liver. (You can see from my photos, I’m either running or drinking!)

Macintosh Road
View of horse farms on my last leg
Leg 3
In the pain cave finishing my last 7.7 mile leg at Woodford Reserve.
Finisher Photo for Team Whiskey River, "We don't run dry"
Finisher Photo for Team Whiskey River, “We don’t run dry” Sponsored by AARP
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