Fall break for many in Owensboro meant a quick trip to Florida and back again. For a group of eleven runners, fall break meant spending 33 hours in a van running a 203-mile course along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The team, comprised mostly of teachers, was aptly named “Faculty Meeting Dropouts,” and completed the 10th running of the Bourbon Chase in 30 hours and 4 minutes.
There were 470 teams on the course this year. Each team in the Chase typically has 12 runners that trade off running the legs non-stop. However, one of the Faculty Meeting Dropout members had to literally drop out due to injury, and Lee Anderson picked up the extra miles.
Anderson, whose wife is a secretary at Daviess County High School, is currently training for a 100-miler in November and was excited for the chance to mimic similar race conditions. For Anderson, this race has been a bucket list item for several years.
“The best part was getting to know each other and working as a team to accomplish the goal to finish and have fun!” Anderson said. Other members of the Faculty Meeting Dropouts echoed the same sentiment.
“You really get close to your teammates when you spend 30 some-odd hours together,” said John Mark Griffin, a teacher at Daviess County High School.
Another DCHS teacher, Brandon Dennis, said, “The overall camaraderie among all the teams has made this an unbelievable experience.”
Teams decorated vans with lights, props, and plenty of marker paint, marking “kills” and checking off boxes for each runner’s leg of the course. After that, it was time to hop in the van to travel the hilly, winding backroads to wait at the next exchange for the runner. The team battled through rain and surprisingly cooler temperatures around the clock. The exchange points were often at distilleries, where the smell of mash greeted the runners upon arrival.
The legs of the race varied in length from 3.2 to 8.9 miles, with each runner running 3 times throughout the span of the race, including daytime and nighttime runs.
“Seeing so many runners stretched out along dark highways was such a unique image,” said Melinda Grimsley, from Bowling Green, KY. “It’s not every day that you see something like that.”
“I think what so many of us enjoy about racing is sharing the pre-race jitters and finish-line excitement with other athletes and our friends,” Grimsley said. “At a relay like Bourbon Chase, we get to do that again and again in exchanges, sometimes in beautiful surroundings, sometimes in ridiculous conditions, but they’re always a blast.”