Finishing a marathon is an arduous but rewarding task that many celebrate with a well-deserved glass of wine. Held just outside of Bordeaux, running enthusiasts have combined the run and the celebration in the annual Marathon du Medoc.
Created in 1984 by a group of passionate marathon fans, this event offers the same challenge: run 26.1 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 30 years of the event, it has gotten bigger and bigger, now attracting an international audience.
In an effort to maintain the event’s lively spirit, organisers limit the number of participants for the 12 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.
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 “Dressed Up to the Nines.” As many as 90 per cent of runners dress up for the race.
In a looped course, the race makes it way around more than 50 chateaux in beautiful wine country. Much of the race overlooks the Gironde estuary, the location of many relaxing French river cruises through Bordeaux.
Beyond just running, there are a number of social events held in conjunction with the event. 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 a special 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.
Image Credit: Nicholas Babaian (flickr.com)