Heading into their fifth year this weekend, Chad Collier and his merry band of organizers including Alita and Gary Clarke, Justin Lucas and their entire corps of volunteers hoped to avoid the nasty weather and debris-filled water that dogged the Old Hickory Fun Run—hosted by the Tennessee Powerboat Club—outside Nashville, Tenn., last year. And with a 125-boat turnout for Saturday’s approximately 65-mile pace boat-led run on Old Hickory Lake, followed by an estimated 250-boat raft-up, their hopes were rewarded with blue skies and temperatures in the mild 75- to 80-degree range.

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This weekend's Old Hickory Fun Run, Raft-Up And Pub Crawl boasted the best turnout in the five-year history of the event. Photos courtesy/copyright Barry Colley/Speedonthewater.com.

“Oh my goodness, what a weekend,” said Collier. “On Thursday, everybody started showing up and hanging out. Friday was a little hit and miss with the weather, but we went to lunch, let a little rain come through and did a small raft-up that afternoon. And about 20 boats, led by Justin Lucas, went up the locks to downtown Nashville for lunch.”

Rather than hosting Friday night’s Nashville event at its traditional Rock Bottom Brewery venue, Collier worked with a local nightclub owner to organizer a five-bar crawl through the fabled Music City. (The official full name of the event was changed this year to the Old Hickory Fun Run, Raft-Up And Pub Crawl) Collier said the change was a big hit with the participants.

“Everybody loved it—it was really well received, especially by the people who came from out of town,” he said. “We had people in from as far away as Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia. Everybody loves to come Nashville. It’s such a great tourist destination.

“About 25 percent of the participants were new entries,” he continued. “We still had a lot of boats, but we had even more people because some people from places like Lake Cumberland brought one boat but four or five people. So we had 125 boats, but it was like we had 200 boats in terms of people.”

 

Said Collier: "It isn’t about running 150 mph. It’s about getting back to the raft-up, having a good time and raising money for a great cause.”

Though Collier won’t have the final total or money raised for Operation Stand Down Tennessee until the middle of next week, he estimated that the auction alone during Saturday night’s dinner at Sam's Sports Grill in the Blue Turtle Bay Marina brought in $10,000 to $12,000 for the veterans-support charity.

“That’s why I do this, because of the generous people who come to this event,” he said. “It’s truly humbling, to be honest, to have so many people shake your hand, tell you they had a great and they’re coming back. We don’t run fast. We keep the fleet behind the pace boats. It isn’t about running 150 mph. It’s about getting back to the raft-up, having a good time and raising money for a great cause.”

Look for a complete photo gallery from the Old Hickory Fun Run from official event photographer Devin Williams on Speedonthewater.com tomorrow.

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