The Moonlight Bootlegger 5k is a race series themed around the old moonshine legends, of bootleggers high-tailing it down country roads and trails at night to avoid the Revenuers. To evoke that Prohibition-Era theme, the Bootlegger folks stage evening trail races in country settings with "moonshine" drinks as a post-race treat. This race in Pleasant Garden at Hagen-Stone Park was one of eight races being organized around the southeast and midwest this year.
There were four waves of runners in all to keep the congestion on the trail down. (Charles was in wave one, I was in wave three -- safe in the back of the pack.) It was just starting to get dusky for this 8:55 p.m. start, so they did a good job evoking that "moonlight" theme. In addition, they had a drone flying over the start area, and they got some good video of all the start waves with it. After watching both the early waves start, my group was ushered into the starting chute, and once we were ready to go, it was off into the woods!
The first part of the race passed by a lake and then entered one of the park system's trails in the woods. The first mile had a lot of switchbacks in it, so with everyone wearing or carrying lights, you could sort of gauge where we were going next and hear all the runner conversations. Even in the dark, the route was very well marked, with tealights along the ground and tape and strobe lights blocking the trail segments we were not supposed to take. There were a few places where I had to look hard to spot the next tealight in the distance, but for the most part the lights were close enough together that we didn't struggle. The trail was in good shape as well; I snagged my foot a couple of times on roots or rocks or small animals, but I was in a nice, easy pace and none of them brought me down.
Near the end we skirted the border of another lake and did a few more switchbacks, and then we went around the perimeter of the clearing where all the pre-race festivities had been held and where the finish chute was set up. (We had been able to hear the noise and cheering for a bit.) Although it had been hot and humid before the race, it was a bit cooler on the trail, and coming back to the clearing gave us a chance to get breezes again. After some quick hydration, I got in line for my "moonshine" drinks, which were served in a great glass intended to look like a Mason jar. Since it was a city park, I would have been surprised if it was real moonshine, but whatever they had added to the "cherry coke" and "peach tea" drinks to make them "moonshine" drinks was OK.
They did a great job executing the theme of the race and adding lots of touches throughout the event to build that theme. More than 200 runners took part! The night run aspect was very unique, and I very much enjoyed the bluegrass music along with the very nice race shirt and my post-run drinks! I hope the Moonlight Bootlegger 5k will be coming by my area again next year!