By Mike Jett
Running is great; it stands on its own as a fun and challenging activity and can literally take you to many new and interesting places. Like many things in life, however, it can get a tad boring and monotonous after years of doing it. It may require a little “spicing up” to make it exciting again, to relight that spark you once felt.
For me, running had reached that point: It was boring, painful, took forever and I hated it. Recently though, I have found two things that when added to running can relight the fire and make running fun again: obstacles and bourbon!
In the past month I have participated in two very different types of running races: a Rugged Maniac (Sept. 10) and the Bourbon Chase (October 7-8.)
The Rugged Maniac racing series tours the country and is comprised of 5K races that challenge runners with a variety of obstacles. The Bourbon Chase is a 200-mile overnight running relay race that moves across the state of Kentucky, following the famous bourbon trail from the Jim Beam Distillery in Bardstown past the Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve distilleries before finishing in Lexington. Both races were extremely fun and challenging, but in very unique and different ways.
The Rugged Maniac is described on www.ruggedmaniac.com as “designed with the assistance of Navy SEALS…combin(ing) the most rugged terrain and burly obstacles to allow those with a sense of adventure to define themselves, then bask in the glory at an after-party with live music, food and beer.”
The particular race that a group of us participated in for the Louisville Rugged Maniac certainly utilized the most rugged terrain in the area: Paoli Peaks Ski Resort. Waves of 50 to 100 racers began every 30 minutes and immediately proceeded down the Black Diamond ski slope at Paoli. What goes up must come down, and as we descended the nearly half-mile slope, that is all I kept thinking.
Sure enough, we turned the corner and up we went. Few made it to the top without walking. From there, we proceeded through a series of constructed obstacles: a steep wooden slope that required a rope to surmount and a water slide back down into a pool of muddy water filled with fake logs, a thick rope cargo net to climb, a hanging tire labyrinth to bull through and 4- and 8-foot walls to get over. On and on we went, up and down the ski slopes, into and through a creek, over more walls, then up one more massive hill before the last series of three obstacles: the stump jump, the fire pit jump and the army crawl.
The race was short and intense. Finishing times ranged from 22 minutes up to an hour or more. We at Pure Fitness had been conducting a training program for the race and it proved to be a good one: All on our team finished very strong, and I took sixth overall with a time of 26 minutes and change.
The Bourbon Chase was an entirely different animal. In order to cover 200 miles in 36 hours, teams are required to have 12 runners, two drivers and two vehicles. The teams are split into two groups, each comprised of six runners, one driver and one vehicle. The race is divided into 36 legs, with each runner taking three legs. The distance of the legs ranged from 3.5 miles to 8.6 miles, with the longest total distance covered by one runner set at 20.4 miles.
I was recruited by my girlfriend Elizabeth as a replacement runner on her team from last year, Run Give Live, which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The night before the race, we found out we lost a runner, so we were down to 11. Three of my teammates picked up an extra leg, and I was shifted to the No. 10 lot, giving me the longest mileage (based on three legs: 20.4 miles).
We began at noon on Friday. Van 1 runners led off the race, so those of us in Van 2 sampled some of the Jim Beam products before traveling to our first launch point. It was at the Maker’s Mark Distillery that we would begin our running legs, with Elizabeth taking off at about 3:30 p.m. She killed it, of course, and I ran through the town of Springfield, Ky. Our last runner finished at about 10 p.m., and then it was time to rest- until Elizabeth’s next leg at 2:45 a.m.
During our first series of legs we developed a good routine: We drove to the check point, and the next runner began prepping there. After the baton is passed, we give the recent finisher time to collect him/herself, then we jump in the van and barrel ahead to the next checkpoint, passing and cheering for the active runner along the way.
When our van was “inactive,” we tried to find a place to sleep. Some of us camped under the stars while others slept in the van, but all of us were limited to two hours of sleep.
We ran through the early, early morning hours until our second break which occurred at about 8 a.m. We then set up a similar camp along the creek at the Woodford Reserve Distillery. It was the most peaceful and serene one hour of sleep I have ever gotten. Then it was go time again.
In the end, we covered the 200 miles in about 28 hours on roughly three hours of sleep: a pretty unbelievable feat. Luckily, one of our teammate’s saintly mothers prepared amazing food for us so we were able to eat and refuel on quality food. Our team was called Run Give Live, but our motto for those 28 hours could have been “Run Eat Sleep” because that is all we did. It was an incredibly fun and difficult event, and a really unique way to tour a portion of the great state of Kentucky.
Guest columnist Mike Jett is the co-owner of Pure Fitness Training. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Health & Fitness