How Does It Work

The Bourbon Trail Relay is a “day-relay” road race that covers roughly 75 miles incorporating the historic Kentucky Bourbon Trail, majestic Horse Country, charming communities, and a finish line celebration featuring Kentucky bourbon. 

A typical Bourbon Trail Relay team consists of 3-6 runners, with each team splitting 12 legs of varying lengths and difficulty.  The shortest leg on the course may be around 3 miles, while the longest may measure nearly 9 miles.  Each runner will cover a total distance of between 11 and 17 miles for their two runs combined.

Teams collectively cover the 75-ish mile course by rotating through a total of 12 legs with a total of 11 exchange points. There is no exchange at the start or finish line – as you read on, this will make sense!  Exchanges are the set locations where one runner passes the team’s wristband to the next runner. Example for a 6-person team: Runner #1 will run Leg #1 and handoff at Exchange #1 to Runner #2.  Runner #2 will run Leg #2 and handoff to Runner #3 at Exchange #2, and so on.  When Runner #6 finishes Leg #6, the wristband is handed off to Runner #1 at Exchange #6 to start Leg #7 - for Runner #1’s second leg of the day.  This continues until each runner has run twice and the finish line is reached (yay!).  The exchange points are the same for all teams and are staffed by race officials and volunteers recording team numbers.  While not running, the team members are in the team’s vehicle.  Wait…what vehicle?  Huh?  See below… 

Team Vehicle

What about the team members who are not running?  Where are they and how do they get from place to place?  Easy – you have a team vehicle (that you provide).  Wait…all 6 runners sharing the same vehicle?  Yes - Trust us, it’s one of the coolest things about a relay!  Here is the skinny:  

To understand the vehicle thing, think this way: your team vehicle comes to the race start and drops off Runner #1; drives ahead to Exchange #1 and parks in the designated area so Runner #2 can warm up. After Runner #1 hands off the wristband to Runner #2, Runner #1 cools down and climbs in the vehicle so it can dash ahead to Exchange #2 where Runner #3 warms up while waiting for Runner #2. This continues until all runners have run their two legs and you are at the finish line! 

Teams are limited to one vehicle on the route. Having run our share of relays, we strongly urge using large SUVs or passenger vans. For safety reasons, we must prohibit all RVs, minibusses, or limos (it sounds cool, but trust us, it is a bad idea.)  

Due to the nature of the event, Bourbon Trail Relay teams are largely self-supporting.  This means your team provides its own food, water, sports drinks, and first aid items.  While the primary function of your vehicle is transportation, with little time for lingering at the exchange zones, your support vehicle is typically the best place to refuel and re-hydrate. 

Team Captain

Each team must have a designated captain.  When you register for the Bourbon Trail Relay, you are entering as a team, and initially, it is only required for the Captain to register (all runners will eventually need to sign-up).  The captain is the team’s point guard, the quarterback, the “big cheese”, and will be the primary point of contact to receive updates and instructions from relay HQ.  It is critical for the captain to share pertinent information with team members.  

Relays are complex events.  The team captain is responsible for making sure the team roster is complete, estimated times are submitted, and fees are paid. Keep in mind that the Bourbon Trail Relay registration fee is for the whole team.  All communication between teams and relay HQ goes through the captains.

We hope that helps a little! As always, we are available to answer questions! Just email us at and we will get back to you shortly!

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