In the Paddock

Wow, where did the week go?

A week ago an eclectic (to say the least, and more on that later) band of 12 was gearing up for the annual adventure that is the Bourbon Chase.

A 203-mile team relay race that starts near Bardstown and finishes in Lexington, the Bourbon Chase is one of the main reasons for my annual fall trip back to the bluegrass. It’s also the most fun and most exhausting at the same time.

You see the Bourbon Chase boils down to three runs, at distances ranging from about 4 miles to nearly 9 miles, with a lot of driving around, getting in and out of vehicles, mixing and mingling with like-minded lunatics and sometimes sleeping in the strangest places. Thus the fun and thus the exhaustion.

The 2017 Bourbon Chase marked my seventh in a row and fourth as a member of Old Batch Runamuck, a co-ed master’s team (guys and gals over 40). Third in 2015, we finished fourth last year and were hoping based on our predicted finish time to finish fifth or sixth this year. Turns out we finished fourth again, running the course in 30 hours, 59 minutes and 32 seconds. We missed out on third by about 47 minutes, roughly 4 minutes per runner for the three runs. Doesn’t sound like a lot, at least until you’ve done it.

So how did we get there?

Everyone I run into at the track always asks, “who’s on your team?”

I always lead with the same response.

“Do you know Remi Bellocq? North American Riding Academy, artist, all-around man of the world and great guy? He’s one of our ringers, a beast.”

True story. Remi joined the group the first year we were Old Batch, when we actually couldn’t compete in either the co-ed or the masters categories after a few folks dropped out and were replaced by some youngsters. Remi missed last year, on a trip to Spain (see, man of the world) but was back to his usual beast-mode self this year.”

“He’s part of one group of six; the 12-person team is divided up into two groups of six.”

“So who else is on the team?”

“Maybe nobody you’d know, but in Remi’s van we’ve got Johnny and Lisa, they work for UPS, a flight nurse Paul, another nurse Kelly and a new guy named Ryan. I don’t know what he does, he’s a friend of Remi’s.”

I’ve since come to learn from his email address that Ryan works for an engineering and commercial diving firm based in Nicholasville, Ky.

Eclectic enough for you yet?

There’s more.

This year’s Van 2, our second mini team of six, includes yours truly. In that group we have Tom the Turf writer, Dave the lawyer from Raleigh, N.C., by way of his hometown of Saratoga Springs, Rick the retired assistant fire chief, Charlie the retired police officer and current emergency dispatcher, Dusty the professor at Eastern Kentucky University and Susan the captain and operator of a family-owned and run fire alarm and sprinkler system company.

Now that’s a group.

You should expect nothing less weird for such a weird race.