The toughest 5k race in all of sports is back and organizers are expecting around 600 competitors to compete to see who truly has the “heart of a Lion.”
The seventh annual Lion’s Chase obstacle course 5k race will take place again, September 8, on a rolling, picturesque farm in rural Whitley County — and it’s become a must-do event for many fitness enthusiasts, and just about anyone else looking for a challenge.
“We are constantly refining the product,” said race organizer and founder Jeff Sparks, a local youth pastor who said he created the race because he wanted to bring the big time feel of similar events like The Spartan Race or Tough Mudder to his hometown.
“We build new obstacles every year and try to make the ones we have even better to improve the experience,” Sparks said. “We try to keep the route of the course the same because a lot of people like to compare to how they did the year before.”
Last year, Ben Hall, a former Georgetown College distance runner from Louisville, was the overall winner in a time of 32:57. The top female, Elisa Brown, of Allons, Tenn., finished in a time of 48:23.
Sparks said he believes both of the defending champions plan on returning for the race again this year. And the competition could also become more interesting.
“I think we’ve got some big competitors coming in,” he said. “You always hear rumblings about this kind of stuff. It sounds like we may have some pretty serious runners coming this year. It’s going to be good.”
The course will feature around 56 obstacles this time around. Sparks said he’s been busy over the past year building new ones. One in particular, which looks sort of like a giant Olympic medal podium, will be featured prominently. Other obstacles have undergone refining to make them even better for all competitors.
“People have asked me many times if they can come out and run the course to train,” Sparks said. “Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no.’ There are cattle on the property and we have to open fences for the race. We don’t mow it year round. What people see on race day is a snapshot. It only looks like that one or two days.”
Runners leave in waves starting at 8:30 a.m. with groups of competitors leaving every 15 minutes thereafter until 11:00 a.m. The race is located about eight miles south of I-75 Exit 25 on Cumberland Falls Hwy. To register for the race, or just to find out more information, go to www.lionschase.com.
Registration is currently $55, but will go up to $60 at midnight Aug. 8. Those who register on-site will pay $80 day of race.
Parking is provided on-site and costs $10 per vehicle. Cash is necessary, as race organizers cannot accept credit cards for parking.
The Lions Chase is a non-profit event. Proceeds from the race go to support the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life.