Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bourbon Chase 2013

The Bourbon Chase is a 200 mile overnight relay that follows Kentucky's historic bourbon trail, and it is hands-down the most fun event that I do all year.  The camaraderie, the hype, the trash talking, the not wanting to let your crazy-fast team down, all plays into making me amped to perform my best for this race.  The event starts on Friday morning with the teams seeded as those to take the longest departing Jim Beam first.  My team, who I joke (but not so jokingly) about being so good that the addition of one or two more fast runners will leave me invited only as a driver or waterboy, was one of the three teams starting in the last wave at 7:00 pm.

Ready to roll.
The Speakeasies had won the first four installments of this annual throw down - I joined the team last year after racing against them the three previous years.  This year, however, there were two more threatening teams - and the Old Timers.  We knew most of Draftmag's top guys, and Michael Eaton (very good elite) we expected to be the biggest ringer.  The excitement amongst our crew elevated daily as we shaved down into our absurd mustaches made final preparations.

A little early for No Shave November.
Wound up looking like the Butcher from Gangs of New York.

After much begging, I got my legs of choice, the number two slot.  I wanted it so badly because the first segment (Leg 2) ran right past the school that I teach and coach at.  I actually spent numerous afternoons running the route backward and forward, getting more geeked up all the time.

It's hard to run easy past these.
Our lead guy, Danny (superb 1500m runner who has paced countless sub 4 minute miles) put a little gap on his guy once he kicked in the afterburners after a fairly easy start (Danny had to get coach's permission to run and wasn't killing himself until his last leg).  It was already dark when I started, and I did my best not to blow up starting too hard.  I knew the route, knew we needed every second and wanted to throw down my best effort.  The pace felt fast but doable, and I noticed that I could no longer see my guy's light behind me.  Once out on Hwy 245, I took a few recovery breaths and got on the gas.  The cheers from my XC guys that came out to cheer me on gave me that last push that I needed.  Wound up running under my 10k PR (which isn't very good) on a 6.4 mile leg.  Put two minutes on the Drafmag guy and worried a little if I'd be able to go that hard again. 

Leg 2 - 6.4 miles - 35:57 (5:37/mi.)
Seeing this race unfold is one of the coolest parts of the relay format.  We knew we'd be better in some spots and knew we'd give time back in others.  Our third, King, guy gave up some time to a very good post-collegiate Kenyan, Breeden (ultra running super-stud) was pretty even with his guy, Danner was overtaken but held strong, and Burtel kept the deficit to about 1:30 as we passed off to van 2.  Draftmag's 7th runner was Eaton and he stretched out the gap on one of our fastest guys, Mike.  After that, we weren't getting any more updates and kinda figured we were getting hammered on.  Our van rested at the exchange at leg 13 and awaited van 2's arrival.  Little did we know, Drafmag's number 8 guy, their captain Kevin, had gotten lost.  Despite being down 4 minutes at last check, we were now up about 6.  We knew this was not safe distance as they had already been taking time back.
My second leg, number 14 was a 5 mile open highway drag into Danville.  I felt pretty good about putting more time on my man and tried to put in my best time trial.  Set my second PR of the night:

Leg 14 - 5 miles - 28:30 (5:42/mi.)
The only time I got to see Eaton run was when we drove past him on Hwy 127 - what Mike had close behind him was a 6'2"ish guy with unbelievable turnover gunning him down.  I think Mike held him off, but the only update that we got from van 2 while we waited at Four Roses Distillery to start our third rotation was "we're getting our asses kicked!"  Super-fast guys on our team running the hardest legs were losing time.  By the time van 1 started again and Danny started leg 25, we were over 10 minutes down.  Ouch.

Maintaining that XC, never say die mentality, I went out crazy hard for my last leg.  Not even 10 minutes in I heard the worst imaginable sound - a train whistle.  I was running about 200m away from the railroad crossing when I saw the gates go down.  Our competition was on the other side of those tracks and I had to wait over 4 agonizing minutes.  Even though I had no illusions of catching those guys, I went all out for the remainder of my leg - the kind of running that leaves you feeling like you're about to burst a blood vessel in your head.  It was torture, but after about 25 minutes on the road, my Bourbon Chase was done.

Leg 26 - 3.9 miles - 25:00ish - (???/mi. - stopped by train for 4 minutes!)
The end result was a second place finish.  I don't think we were ever credited the time for the train, but it wouldn't have mattered.  The gap was over a half hour.  Regardless, the Speakeasies are a great bunch of friends who hang and run together all the time.  We were outgunned by a team of stellar runners and my hat's off to those guys.  Our journey was an incredible one, and I'm forever proud to have run with the Speakeasies.  The talk is already swirling about running in the Ultra format next year (twice the distance for half the runners) which is much more my style.  Hope I get the invite.
An amazing bunch of guys.
The photographer is actually taking a pic of the bib number, but the caption should be so much better.

No comments:

Post a Comment