Thoughts from the Bourbon Chase 2012

| October 6, 2012

By: Sam Poloyac (newsletter 10/6/12)

Pittsburgh D’Stillers — aka Bourbon Brothers — take on 200 miles of Kentucky Bourbon Trail back country

Every Tuesday and Thursday we get together as a group and run. However, when you spend over 24 hours in a van with a group of guys competing in a 200 mile running relay you REALLY get to know each other. As someone from the Pittsburgh D’Stillers team put it…. This trip took us from friends to “brothers”.
The whole experience was absolutely awesome. The non-racing things that were memorable were the multiple sophomoric jokes and stunts that happened the entire trip. Everything from “someone” in Van#1 mooning the Van#2 , to our guest runner/mannequin “Christine”, had everyone laughing the entire trip. One of the most memorable comments from Van#1’s driver Mike Gannon was asking every parking volunteer (male or female) at the relay points “Where would you like me to put it?”. One volunteer made the mistake of telling us to put it in the rear… Not her best choice of words … but raised a howl from the entire van. Apparently the joke was as funny at relay point #37 as it was at relay point #1 maybe because of exhaustion coupled with caffeine, 5 hour energy, oreos, and pringles. Another memorable moment was on Sunday when we stopped at Wendy’s on the way home. At noon on a Sunday, in walks the 12 of us, which prompted Jim Carr to say “Yep… we’re with the church group”. This comment not only made all of us laugh, but also several people in Wendy’s. I honestly do not know any other time in my life that I have laughed more in a 48 hour period than on this trip.

Things I learned about my fellow runners that I didn’t know before the trip…. Ron Schmoll and his brother Roy have the same corny sense of humor that I have. Frequently the three of us would be laughing at some stupid joke that no one else found funny. Chris Cullen is the most productive person that I have ever met. He also laughed along with us as we ridiculed him for working on his laptop on the trips to and from Kentucky. In reality, this was a much more productive use of time than telling fart jokes in the back of the van for 9 hours. I also learned that Jim Carr’s cell phone only works in Western PA and in West Virginia. However, when his phone is working, he is able to “like” and comment on a facebook photo while driving a 15 passenger van … at full interstate highway speed. I already knew, but really confirmed that each person in our group is a really resilient runner. Adam, Ron, and Mike Yankel were all fighting lingering injuries. Dan, Ron, Bob, Jeremiah, and Rick had some run legs that rivaled Textor hill. Despite the lingering injuries, the difficult hills, the sleep deprivation, each runner was able put down some unbelievable times with our whole team averaging a 7 minute 32 second mile and beating our anticipated time by over an hour (finishing 19th overall out of 287 teams and 9th out of 53 teams in the open male group). I also learned that I don’t want to be in Mike Yankel’s path during a race. His mild mannered personality switches when the race starts. He was our “roadkill” champion (i.e. he passed more runners than anyone else). As one runner unsuccessfully tried to pass him at the end of his leg, Mike turned to him and said in a very calm Mike Yankel tone….“Well, that was futile”. Rick, Dan, and Mike Yankel are deceptively hysterical. The creativity of the insults hurled at the “other” van were largely their contributions which also kept us all laughing. Bottom line is that every runner on our team is a really great person. We could not have got along any better than we did. Even Jim Carr is somewhat likable for someone who is from West Virginia.

Special thanks to Jeremiah, Pittsburgh D’Stillers Captain. Thanks from all of us brother for coordinating with race director M. Kuntz. Also, a huge thank you goes out to our “dedicated drivers”. They had the unenviable task of driving for over 24 hours through parking and traffic backups at nearly every relay point. Mike Gannon and Roy Schmoll did a fantastic job especially given the seemingly endless number of sarcastic driving comments hurled at them throughout the trip. To a man, the entire team could not have enjoyed this experience as much as we did, or perform as well as the team did, without the selfless contribution by Mike and Roy. Thanks brothers! Finally, I have to provide a personal comment on the race itself. Words can’t really express how much I loved this event. Competing in running events is not really a team sport. Yes, training is a team event and if you run with a pace group then there is the camaraderie that helps you get through the race. However, at the end of the day you are competing to beat your own personal PR. This race is completely different. You are really competing for the “team”. There is an awesome sense of responsibility on each of your legs because you want to do well for the “team”. I have personally never been more pumped up for a 4 to 6 mile run in my life. During my night run I couldn’t help but think “what if I don’t see something on the road and twist my ankle and mess everything up for the team”. My last run, I shot out so fast that over the first 1/8th of a mile that I had to laugh when, I looked at my watch and realized that my pace was faster than the pace I would run when Joella tells me to run fast for 2 minutes… and I had over 4 miles to go… definitely needed to chill out at that point! For my slow ass self, I really enjoyed being able to run with such a great group of runners and be part of the same team. I think that this was a particularly big deal for me because I have been a band geek my whole life and frequently was the last person picked on the kickball team. I have never really been an integral part of an athletic team, so for me, this was really great. The whole Bourbon Chase experience was way beyond my expectations and I truly can’t wait to do it again.

–Thanks Sam for putting this together. I can say with confidence the rest of us feel very much the same. We all can’t wait to do it again! – your fellow Bourbon Brothers

Category: 2012, Team Blog

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