Marathon running and wine quaffing don’t exactly go hand in hand; the last thing you’d want to do after crossing the finishing line is guzzle down a glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s finest. But believe it or not, running enthusiasts have been doing just that for over three decades. Held just outside of Bordeaux, the annual Marathon du Medoc is equal parts endurance racing and cultured wine tasting.
Created in 1984 by a group of passionate marathon fans, this event offers the same challenge: run 26.2 miles in the best time possible. But for this race, organisers put an emphasis on fun, as fancy dress is encouraged and water stations have been replaced with wine-tasting tents. In the 33 years of the event, its presence has steadily increased, attracting an international audience for every instalment.
In an effort to maintain the event’s lively spirit, organisers limit the number of participants for the 9th September race to 8,500 runners. According to the BBC, it is believed that the race officials may turn away as many as 40,000 people looking for race entry. Too many people, they believe, could take away from the race’s basic principles: health, sport, conviviality, and fun.
Since things can get a bit tipsy, everyone is given a 6.5-hour time limit to finish the race. Joining the runners are more than 3,000 volunteers and as many as 10,000 spectators. The theme of this year’s Marathon du Medoc is Music In 33rpm, so expect to see music legends like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and David Bowie limbering up for a tipple. And with as many as 90% of runners dressing up for previous races, we’re sure to see some outrageous costumes.
Writing for the Telegraph, Tobias Mews said of the 2013 experience: “With an orchestra playing at every corner, the incredible support from the crowds [and] the offer of an ice-cream as we ran the last kilometre, by the time we’d crossed the finish line hand-in-hand we couldn’t stop smiling”. The Guardian’s Vicky Lane adds: “Make it to the finish and you can expect a goodie bag. And yes, it contains more wine”. For an in-depth, first-hand run through, be sure to read wine journalist Jamie Goode’s article about his first time taking part in the marathon here.
In a looped course, the race makes its way around more than 50 chateaux in beautiful wine country. Much of the race overlooks the Gironde estuary, close to the quaint town of Libourne, Chateau Agassac’s verdant beauty, and Roquetaillade Castle - all part of our Bordeaux Affair itinerary. Starting in Pauillac, participants pass through a vast array of the Medoc’s most iconic wineries, including Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild, accompanied by 25 musical groups, from string quartets to reggae bands, serenading your efforts along the way.
Beyond just running, there are a number of social events held in conjunction with the race. The day before the marathon, celebrate at the famous Centipede evening in a Medoc chateau with as many as 1,450 guests. There are more than 50 other events alongside the race, more than 20 refreshment stands, and more than 30 food stands along the way. For runners and foodies alike, there is an amazing gourmet choice including oysters, ham, steak, cheese, and ice cream.
Visitors can also enjoy the marathon village with live music and pop-up restaurants. And to combat any possible hangovers, there is a well-attended ‘Recovery Walk’ held the day after through the Margaux wine region.
The Marathon du Medoc is certainly a unique way of experiencing Bordeaux. If France’s beautiful backdrops have taken your fancy, be sure to explore Scenic’s range of French river cruises here, or for booking information, call our helpful sales team on 0808 274 1366.
Image Credit: Nicholas Babaian (flickr.com)