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Danville’s Bourbon Chase festivities open to public

Thousands will be running into downtown Danville on Friday night, as participants in the 200-mile, 24-hour relay race called the Bourbon Chase.

This year, Danville is expecting about 8,000 runners, plus their van drivers and supporters, to filter through the town, said Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jennifer Kirchner.

This isn’t the first year Danville will be the location for a main exchange of runners during the relay race, Kirchner said. But it is the first year a portion of Main Street will be blocked off in order to have a party-like atmosphere for them — and the public is invited, too.

According to the race’s website, the Bourbon Chase begins at Jim Beam distillery and is a 200-mile long trek. Running teams will pass through Bardstown and past Heaven Hill and Maker’s Mark distilleries before heading to Springfield, Danville and Stanford. Runners will loop around and pass through Danville again before heading to Harrodsburg. After running by Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve distilleries, the teams will travel through Versailles, Frankfort and Midway, before ending in Lexington.

Four hundred teams are participating in the Bourbon Chase this year, with each one having between six and 12 runners.

As runners make their way to Danville, their team members, van drivers and supporters will drive into town and wait for them — sometimes for several hours, Kirchner said. So the CVB wanted to offer them some entertainment and restaurant options.

“The main goal is to show them hospitality, make it safe and welcoming so they can have fun,” Kircher said.

This year, Main Street will be blocked off from 3 p.m. until about 11 p.m. to accommodate everyone at the event. A DJ will play music in Weisiger Park near the courthouse and downtown restaurants will be open late. There will also be corn hole games set up, a giant Jenga block game to play and bourbon barrel racing rolling down Main Street — all for free.

The Heart of Danville will be selling beer and Wilderness Trail Distillery will offer its signature cocktails.

Anticipating more traffic and parking needs, the CVB contacted downtown parking lot owners and got permission to use and promote their lots during Friday night’s event. Kirchner said detailed maps of where visitors can park and where local restaurants and bars are have been given to all the teams.

Kirchner said it’s a fun element of the race and all communities welcome runners as they come through town. There’s now a competition between towns vying for “The Most Community Spirit Award.” Danville will be trying to take back first place from Stanford, which won the award last year. “We mean business this year,” Kirchner said, laughing.

Vans carrying team members will start arriving in town about 3 p.m. Friday, Kirchner said. But more than likely the fastest runners won’t reach town until about 5 p.m. Slower runners will be coming in all through the evening hours. Runners will also be passing through town a second time over night after going through Stanford on their way to Harrodsburg.

“The public can come. They should come,” Kirchner said. “It’s a blast. There’s lots of super-high energy and good spirits.”