In the Paddock

Leave it to my great friend, running buddy and former Lexington assistant fire chief Rick Jordan to get philosophical on the roughly 75-mile drive from Lexington to Clermont, Kentucky, last Friday.

"So why do you do the Bourbon Chase?" Rick asked one of the group of six riding in our borrowed Mercedes passenger van to the Jim Beam Distillery, the start of the adventure that is the Bourbon Chase.

In all honesty I don't remember the answer either and we undoubtedly talked about the same type of thing several times during our nearly 24 hours straight together. Thinking about it now, roughly 48 hours removed from finishing the last of my three legs on the Chase, I can offer what feels like a fairly concrete answer.

I run the Bourbon Chase for three reasons.

First, it's a great physical challenge consisting of three runs at distances ranging from 4 to 8 miles with about seven to eight hours in between.

Second, it offers the chance to be part of a team, something largely missing once you cross over into adulthood outside of the work environment.

And third, it's an absolute blast of positive energy that is infectious and pretty hard to get out of your system.

The first two points are fairly self explanatory, although I'll touch on the actual running in a bit because a lot of folks have asked how it went last week.

The third point is a bit harder to describe. It all starts the moment the group of six - the Bourbon Chase consists of teams of 12, split in half, to run the entire course in 36 separate runs - come together to make their way to the start. It's roughly an hour and 15 minutes from Lexington to Jim Beam so you either get to know each other then or reacquaint and swap stories of the year gone by.

Once you touch down at the start area the energy level ramps up several notches. Team vans are decked out, runners don costumes and of course the distilleries put out a spread complete with tastings. Thankfully they're small samples, it is a 203-mile race after all.

The experience if the event is like no other running event all year, the runs are difficult and sometimes long but the "down time" in the van is where most of the fun and hilarity ensues.

The 2016 Chase for Team Runamuck Old Batch consisted of team captain Susan, me, Rick, Dave, Teri, Charlie O. in Van 1 and Lisa, Kelly, Johnny, Hoss, Paul and Dale in Van 2. Along the way we crossed paths with Van 2 at the major exchange points - when Runner 6 hands off to Runner 7 - but otherwise you're with your Van 1 mates most of the way.

During the course of our time together we learned about things like Vitamin W and Vitamin I, the letters short for wine and ibuprofen, from Charlie; found subtle comforts sleeping on the floor of a high school gymnasium; talked about driving and specifically a "Pittsburgh Left" and a "Lexington Pull Through" and so much more. The shirt Rick wore on his last run summed it up pretty good. A shirt from Tough Mudder, it read, "Another Bad Idea" on the front. I'm sure he thought it was a pretty bad thought to be Runner 6 again, climbing a monster hill out of Woodford Reserve for the second straight year.

Thankfully none of my runs were overly monstrous in the hill department, unless you count the serious down hills of my opening 4.6-miler. My shins reminded me later and let me know they didn't appreciate those hills during my second 5.5-mile run that started on quiet country roads and finished in downtown Danville.

As for the third and final run, let's just say preparation in years past involved a half marathon in Saratoga a few weeks removed from the race meeting and a few weeks before the Chase. I skipped it this year and paid the price in the final 2.5 miles of the 7.6-mile run from downtown Versailles to Woodford Reserve.

The speed - for a 45-year-old - was there for the first two runs, but the stamina certainly left something to be desired.

Ah well, all in all a successful Chase.

Six years running for me and it didn't take long to start thinking about 2017.

After we crossed the finish together, snapped a few photos, drank some bourbon (it is the Bourbon Chase after all!) and went our separate ways, a text pinged on the group thread from Johnny.

"Can't wait till next year. Keep pounding the pavement," it read.

Less than an hour later Paul chimed in, "5th place and a fantastic time, what else can you ask for? Counting down the days till next year."

And so it begins, preparation for Bourbon Chase 2017.

See you then Lexington.