Tue 27 Oct 2015

Marathon du Médoc: It’s Not About the Time, It’s All About the Wine!

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A few weeks ago, I took part in what must be the world’s most unusual marathon, also known as Le Marathon du Médoc.

Marathon du MedocThe famous 26.2 mile/42km route through the scenic vineyards of Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac and Saint-Julien encompasses 20 wine-tasting stops along with 22 refreshment stations, and various food points serving croissants, oysters, steak, cheese and ice cream. Yum! What a great way to tick off ‘marathon’ (sitting patiently at the top of my bucket list), I rather misguidedly thought back in April.

My running partner/boyfriend did not need much persuading to do this with me – this was his kind of marathon. So after a short discussion and 5 months of not quite enough training, we were at the quayside in Pauillac with a large crowd of fellow crazy runners from all over the world.

This year’s fancy dress theme was ‘dressed up to the nines’ and we were surrounded by a sea of tuxedos, top hats, suits, bow ties, ball gowns and tiaras. We went for the comfortable option and picked up some novelty shirts during a last-minute shopping trip at Camden Market.

Marathon du Medoc The race started off quite slowly as anticipated, and our initial strategy to get to the halfway point before eating or drinking didn’t quite go to plan – the breakfast station at 1km being our first stop. Everyone crowded round for fresh croissants.

The trouble with running and eating at the same time came to light rather quickly with a minor choking incident taking place, and I was wondering how I was going to explain to everyone that we didn’t manage to make it past the first stop. Fortunately, after a short rest, we were able to continue with no further mishaps. We were merrily greeted with food, wine, music, bands, and people dancing at every stop thereafter.

The weather was warm and dry most of the day although there was a period of heavy downpour in the afternoon. This was, at first a welcome break from the heat. However, when it continued coming down thick and fast 45 minutes later, the hard work truly set in.

We were over half way by this time and watching everyone struggle in their now drenched ball gowns and suits, I was glad we had not decided on wearing more elaborate costumes. The course consisted of some mud and gravel tracks and the puddles made this difficult. My lack of training didn’t help the cause and I found myself having to stop at every stop point and in between. I was in good company though as there were a lot of walkers by this stage and being towards the back also meant that there were no longer any queues at the wine stops.

Marathon du MedocThe successful completion of the race is restricted to a 6 hour and 30 minute time limit. Not knowing how strict they were going to be with this, we had agreed just after 15 miles that Dave would run ahead so at least one of us would definitely make it to the finish within the specified time. I was really paranoid during the last few miles that the sweep cart marking the 6 and a half hour pace (driven by a bunch of scary clowns apparently) would turn up behind me at any second. Thankfully, I made it to the end without having to see this.

I was hugely relieved to reach the finish. Dave was already there, and I was allowed through the barrier to collect my medal and wine. This meant I had finished within the time which I later found out to be 6 hours and 28 minutes. All part of my master plan to get my money’s worth and maximise wine-tasting opportunities (of course).

Whilst I’m in no rush to take part in another marathon any time soon, this is a unique experience with a fantastic party and carnival atmosphere. A brilliant bucket-list event for all wine lovers who enjoy running… and even those who don’t!

Cheryl Lee
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Categories : Bordeaux, France

Comments

  1. Simon Mason says:

    Well done Cheryl! I ran it in 2008 (dressed as a pirate) and this sort of makes me want to have another go…

  2. Charles scott says:

    Well done Cheryl…. I am hoping to do the run in 2016, any tips on how to get a place of is it just a case of entering the general ballot in January? And how much wine did you drink on the run?!

    • Cheryl Lee says:

      Thanks Charles. Yes we applied through the general ballot. Keep an eye out for when it opens as the places go quite quickly. I didn’t go too mad on the wine. Most of my consumption was after I had safely reached the half way line…Dave had his fair share though haha. They are served in tasting measures and you can have as many (or as little) as you like. Good luck and have fun!

  3. Richard Tomkinson says:

    A great event & well done for completing it – I ran it in 1999 (I think!) & really enjoyed the experience – no fancy dress themes in those days but a lot of mad French in fancy dress – were the crew dressed as roman soldiers complete with chariot there this year?
    My mate & I ran in Ch Pichon Longeville Baronesse T shirts – naturellement!
    Very happy memories but no more marathons for me – unfortunately.
    Highly recommended.

    • Cheryl Lee says:

      Yes, there were some roman soldiers there actually, running in sandals! Haha! Very impressive! The fancy dress element is brilliant. Lots of fantastic costumes!

  4. Frances Wensley says:

    Great job! We did it in 2013 when the theme was Space Cowboys. My boyfriend dressed up as Princess Leia and ran the whole thing in a long dress! Probably the most admirable effort though was a guy dressed up as Chewbacca!! It was a very warm day. Brilliant event – the organisation from start to finish was fantastic and the wine was excellent. I’m definitely tempted to try again some day.

  5. Stephen says:

    Cheryl you are nuts. But well done for determination to complete the course. Good strategy did it for you. I find some of the London tastings a bit of a Marathon!

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