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May 12, 2015

Moonlight Bootlegger 5k race review

Short Version
Finished in 26:20 (official time), no new PR(although first night trail race)
Overall Place: 53/460
Men 45-49: 6/17

Race #89

This race was all about fun for me and I had a great time!  This is one to definitely do with friends as there was great Bluegrass music before and after as well as an awesome course and a Moonshine finish.  I've never run a trail race at night and that was an awesome experience as well.  The course was well lit and had glow sticks to help with roots/rocks.   A really fun race and a fun evening out.


Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was very easy as I registered in advance online at the races website.  I've run a race by the race management company, Trivium Racing, when I did a marathon relay on Belle Isle a few years ago.  Their website was well organized and very simple to get signed up.  You could also have just registered the day of the race too.

Packet pickup was also very simple.  Given this was a trail race at night, it was not a huge crowd which made it nice for packet pickup.  We first picked up our race bib and got to see what the finishers glass looked like.  You also had the chance to pickup the day before but it really wasn't necessary given the smaller race.
Registration/packet pickup
Moonshine sponsor
After we had our bib, they did an ID check to make sure you were old enough to drink.  Everyone received a bracelet so they knew.
ID check
You then got in line go get your race shirt.  While there were three lines, it was well organized and we were checked in within a few minutes.
Start Area
From there were were able to put our stuff back in the car, which was right next to the finish area, then relax to some Bluegrass music until it was time to race.  My buddy Kevin and his family came out as well as our buddy Rich so we chatted before the race.

The start area had an awesome band from Grand Rapids called Fauxgrass. They were really great and it made the atmosphere for the race really nice and relaxing.
An awesome band - Fauxgrass
Port-o-Johns were also right in this area as well as real bathrooms.  Plenty for the amount of runners they had signed up.
Runners relaxing waiting for it to get dark
The weather was awesome.  We we expecting some storms but it never ended up raining and ended with a beautiful day.  It was still pretty warm but, with the sun down, it didn't feel as bad until we finished running and were soaked.
Beautiful evening
The race director made a few announcements at a pre-race meeting and then we headed for a short walk ove to the starting line.  All three of us were running in the first wave.  It proved to be the right decision as we all finished fairly strong compared to the crowd.
Race director pre-race meeting
Runners behind me at the start
All the runners had their headlamps on and we were ready to run!
Runners in front of me at the start
The course was a three mile run through the woods.  The first mile was pretty much open grassy area that was mowed for the course.  After that we went into the single track.  The race was at Mayberry State Park.  I've never run there before and it was very nice.  The single track was wide enough that people could pass when needed so it was wider than you would normally see on single track.

The course was a point to point race but still finished in the same area as the start.  Since I had just run 11 miles this morning, I didn't know how my legs would feel.  My run that morning was terrible but I ended up feeling pretty good for the race.  I didn't think I would run it as fast as I ended up going.
Map per Garmin
The course itself was not hilly at all.  There was a couple small rollers but no big hills as you can see by the pretty level elevation.  I believe my Garmin shows about 41 foot of gain so pretty flat.
Elevation per Garmin

I never would have thought I would be in the sub 10 pace especially at night and on trails that I was not familiar with running.
Splits per Garmin
We shot off and the grassy mile in the start was nice because it helped thin out the crowd and was wide enough that you could easily pass people.
My buddy Rich in front of me
While I usually take tons of pictures on the course for my reviews, adding darkness into the picture really adds to the difficulty to show you what the course was like.
Grassy area to start
A little after the first mile, we went into the single track portion of the race.  It was a little more technical with roots and rocks but still a very runnable course.
wider single track
The race could not have done a better job with the markings.  They had lamps going along the route.  They had volunteers at some tougher spots as well to help keep us on track.
Well marked course
They had plenty of signs as well as large glow sticks to show you where some of the roots and rocks were so you didn't trip on them.  It made it nice so you could really push yourself and run a fast race.
No getting lost even at night
As we were finishing, the announcer was announcing names of finishers.  I waited a minute or so and my buddy Kevin passed the finish line.  You can see his blur below.  Our buddy Rich finished about a minute or so ahead of me.  It was a great course!

I will also say my Garmin didn't register the entire distance as it was pretty heavy woods in a couple miles of the course.  I do feel the course was measured well and the actual distance was 3.1 miles.  My first mile was spot on which was out in the open and not in the woods.  The course had music at each marker to tell you when you passed it.  Unfortunately Garmin are not perfect especially in the woods.
Finish line
Aid Stations
The race had two aid stations at about one and two mile markers with water.  It was nice of the volunteers to be out there in the dark helping us.  The volunteers were well organized and ready for us.  I couldn't get a good picture of them given the darkness.

Finish area
The registration area turned into the finish area where you could get your moonshine.  There was Apple Spice and Cherry.  Both were good but I liked the Apple Spice better.  Your race included two drink tickets.  You got your first one with the glass and then could go back for a refill.
The race also had bananas, pretzels, popcorn, orange slices and peanut packets as well as water.
Hot and happy finishers
For your $36.50 entry (and it could have been less if I had signed up sooner), we received a measured course that was marked with lights on the trail.  Entertainment before and after the race which was excellent - it made the atmosphere really fun!  The bibs were chip timed but was on a gun start.
Race bib
You also received a Leslie Jordan tech shirt.  I like the logo of the shirt and, while I do like the Leslie Jordan shirts, I wish the logo would be smaller on it.  A nice left corner logo is perfect in my opinion.  Regardless, the shirt will get used in training and other races and they fit true to size.
Race Shirt
When you finished, you received a Moonlight Bootlegger 5k mason jar glass filled with Rusted Crow Spirits Murder Mitten Moonshine.  The Moonshine is made right here in Michigan which is great to see the race using local resources.  Actually the moonshine was all donated which was nice of the company and a great way to get their name out.
Finishers Glass
The organization for the race was good.  The website was easy to use and had all the information.  We received an email about packet pickup.  The start area and finish area was laid out well.  The course was well lit and there was no chance in getting lost in the dark.  The finish line band was awesome and results were posted the next morning when I woke up.

Overall, it was a really fun 5k.  Running in the dark on trails is not new to me as I do it much of the year.  It was fun to do a race though at night and on the trails especially at a place I've never run before.  I'd like to go back to the State park again and see it more in the daylight.  It was a very nice park.  For those looking for a fun evening, I highly recommend trying this one out.  I'm glad that I signed up for it.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure: I paid for this race entry with my own funds. All opinions are my own.


  1. Good marathon training... So well run maybe the weeks are starting to pay off and you are getting fitter! keep this up and your marathon will go well.

  2. I'm glad you had a positive race experience. I've run one race organized by Trivium and it was a bit of a disaster. Their timing system AND the back up timing system failed. Since you've had 2 good experiences with them, it sounds like mine was just a fluke accident and not the norm.