RUNNER PROFILE: Gregory Byerline of Moonshine Runners Society
They call themselves…the Moonshine Runners Society.
We’d heard the rumors. Scattered footsteps echoing through the dark. Silhouettes seen late at night traversing the Tennessee countryside beneath the glow of a full moon. They reside in the shadows, running, running, wrapping themselves in stars typically choked from existence by street lamps, storefronts, and a constant flow of headlights.
Founded by Gregory Byerline, the group has been sharing their midnight jaunts for just over two years. “The experience is like no other running experience I’ve had. They’ve become my favorite runs each month,” says Byerline. “Runners of various skills and experience levels alike gather for a conversational run (typically four to six miles) at night under a full moon through all four seasons. The recreational, ‘bring-your-dog and soak-up-the-moonshine’ runs also provide a welcoming group environment to contrast those often solo training runs.“
Byerline is quick to stress the balance of safety with the pristine spirit of these nighttime adventures. “We wear reflective clothing, headlamps, etc. HOWEVER…(and here’s the fun part)…we only turn on our headlamps when we need to be seen by the rare oncoming car. After the car passes, we turn them OFF again so we can run under the original running light falling on the pastures and creeks.”
Noting his nocturnal nature, we wondered what might be going through Byerline’s mind as he prepares to run the 2017 Hillbilly Half Marathon. “Until I become a vampire, I’ll always be comfortable running in the daylight,” he says. He was first a cyclist prior to becoming a runner, so traffic doesn’t scare him. “But I confess,” he adds, “that an open country road – whether under the sun or the moon – is quite something.”
Still, racing, and racing during the day is different. “Time doesn’t matter on those [Moonshine Runners Society] runs. For the Hillbilly Half, I do have a time goal in mind,” shares Byerline. “I am 38 seconds behind my half marathon time goal for 2017, so I’d like to knock that out at this local event.”
This will be Byerline’s first Hillbilly Half, but the hills…they don’t scare him. “The thing about hills…is that hills have a natural end. You eventually reach the top.” This is very different from battling the winds typical of his Illinois homeland. “Winds blow throughout the entire run…and on my runs, somehow the wind would always swirl back into another headwind on my return trip home! Hills don’t do that.”
So he and his nocturnal crew are ready. Byerline can’t help but grin, though, as it isn’t really just about embracing the stars. “Well, the group was dubbed ‘Moonshine Runners Society’ as a nod to that other ‘spirit’ that runs through the hills and hollows of Tennessee. On extra special nights, perhaps that other spirit might even make an appearance to toast the other runners!”
Well, cheers to ya, Mr. Byerline…and welcome to the Moonshine Runners Society on their first adventure with the Hillbilly Half!
MOONSHINE RUNNERS SOCIETY: Originally founded in the hills and hollows outside Nashville, TN, the Moonshine Runners Society meets to run on the night of each month’s full moon. The experience is like no other running experience as avid runners and nature lovers gather for a conversational, recreational run (typically 4–6 miles) guided by the original running light. “Membership” in this society is free and automatic…after attending a moonshine run. Visit their website for more information at http://www.moonshinerunnerssociety.com.