Lake Cumberland Thunder Run Turning ‘Sweet 16’

Lake Cumberland Thunder Run Turning ‘Sweet 16’

Heading into this weekend’s Lake Cumberland Thunder Run in Kentucky from their Tennessee home with his wife, Erin, Justin Lucas has one goal for the 16th annual. Though that goal is clear and simple enough, it is anything but easy to achieve.

The Lake Cumberland Thunder Run attracts an array of colorful high-performance boats each year. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

“I want to be able to take care of every person there,” said Lucas, who organizes the run with his friend Dan Weiss. “To me, that is what makes a successful event.”

Now turning 16 years old, the Thunder Run has seen fleets of 150-plus boats. Between an online registration count of 50 entries and upcoming on-site registration, Lucas estimates this year’s turnout will be roughly 70 boats. And that’s just how he likes it.

“Somewhere between 60 and 70 boats is the right number where we can still take care of everyone but have a good-size event,” he said.

Said Lucas (right) with his wife, Erin, “I want to be able to take care of every person there.” Photo by Devin Wozencraft/Wozencraft Insurance Agency.

Currently on their dealership event-debut swing, Paul Michael Ison and Tiffany Crawford of Cigarette Kentucky are among the new sponsors of the Thunder Run. Returning sponsors include GSX/Glasstream, which happens to be a complimentary brand carried by Ison Marine Motorsports.

With the Saturday rainout and Friday debris-in-the-water concerns that marked the eighth annual Kuttawa Cannonball Run in Kentucky two weekends ago, Lucas has noticed some understandable anxiety around the Lake Cumberland happening. While he offers no guarantees, he’s feeling optimistic about the event.

“This lake has always been hit or miss,” he explained. “We’ve had no rain and nice breeze, and the lake conditions are looking good. But I don’t pay much attention to it until the day before the event. Literally, you can go to bed at this lake with horrible conditions and wake up to perfect water the next day.

Fresh from last weekend’s Hartwell Lake Charity Run in South Carolina (above) and the Kentucky’s Kuttawa Cannonball Run, the weekend prior, Paul Michael Ison and Tiffany Crawford of Cigarette Kentucky will be part of the Thunder Run. Photo by Matt Trulio/

“And I am going to be here, regardless,” he added. “And my team and I are going to try take care of everyone.

“We have secured a really great local band, one that plays a lot in Key West and is hard to get, for our party, and local artist Hunter Flynn is opening for them,” he added. “We also have made some special ‘Sweet 16’ anniversary shirts featuring the designs of all the event shirts form the past 15 years. I think it turned out pretty cool.”

A self-described “1980s diehard’ who was into the BMX and skateboarding scenes when he was growing up, Lucas collected Powell-Peralta skateboard decks for years. And that gave him an idea for this year’s milestone Thunder Run awards.

Trophies for the 16th annual Lake Cumberland Thunder Run are simply rad.

“I pulled three Powell-Peralta skateboard decks off my wall and had them made into trophies,” he said. “I think that’s going to be pretty cool.”

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