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RUNNING FOR WINE

After a pandemic hiatus, the Marathon du Medoc is back. And registration for this most hedonistic sporting event opens in April. While most marathons are populated by lean, spandex-clad competitors, the Marathon du Medoc is not your typical running event. It’s more like Halloween on steroids, with 8,500 runners in costume following an annual theme set by the organizers. The year I attended was animals. For 2022 runners are to follow a “Cinema” theme.

These are serious costumes, we’re not talking a mere mask!

The marathon is September 10. And there are packages, including the opportunity for non-runners to join a 10k walk on the 11th.

The event starts and ends in Pauillac, which is a 53kms-drive from Bordeaux. We pulled our rental van into a convenience store parking lot on the edge of town. Two adults dressed as bumble bees stepped out of the sleek blue BMW next to us, pulled gossamer wings out of the trunk and stretched after their 1,200-km drive from Germany. He is a banker, she is an economist. They were lean, fit and anxious to buzz off.

Walking to the start line I saw participants painting black and yellow strips on each other’s torsos to finish their bee costumes. Others preened friends’ tails, adjusted wings, utters or ears. There were flamingos, swarms of ladybugs, herds of cattle, Ninja turtles, swans, gorillas, penguins, sheep, pigs, a pair of lobsters from Vancouver and almost 1,001 runners dressed as Dalmatians escaping several Cruella Devilles.

Those who broke the dress code, stuck to a domestic theme, like bakers running with baguettes and bloody-apron-clad butchers waiving cleavers at those dressed as farmyard animals. There were Musketeers, a Napoleon in cutaway green velvet jacket and silk knickers, and a surprising number of men dressed as French maids in various stages of dishabille.

Julia Child’s observation that “In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport,” applies to the Marathon du Medoc. In typically French fashion they elevate the act of running into a culinary event. In North America marathoners are parsimoniously offered water and fresh fruit. Here, since they run past 50 chateaux and vineyards (including Chateau Lafitte Rothschild), on a route that has 21 gourmet food stations, runners are offered red or white wine – literally whatever the house specialty – as well as local cheese, oysters, and fresh fois gras served on warm-from-the-oven baguettes. It’s the Aquitaine’s version of fast food.

The marathon starts and finishes in Pauillac a small town on the Gironde River midway between the city of Bordeaux and the Atlantic Ocean and winds through the villages which dot the vineyards of Bordeaux. Citizens move furniture outside to watch the costumed runners squeeze through narrow village streets before heading to the vineyards. Each stop on the route has food and music ranging from jazz to reggae, folk, rock and classical.

For non-runners, this set up is great because you can watch the start from Pauillac’s quayside, wander the town, have a decent lunch, sip the best Bordeaux, then observe participants cartwheel, skip, and dance their way across the finish.

The runner with the best time receives their weight in wine while other top finishers receive crates of wine. Everyone else receives a bottle of marathoner wine.

The evening before the marathon there is a carb-loading, wine-paired pasta dinner for 1,500 participants which this year is at the Chateau Pedesclaux. The Chateau will also offer lunch to 1,500 of Sunday’s walkers.

This is a marathon which has equal appeal for runner and non-runner.

If you go

The marathon receives 15,000 applications a year and can only accredit 8,500 runners. This year’s marathon is September 10. Registration opens in April. For details and to apply go to: http://www.marathondumedoc.com

Other marathons running clients may be interested in include:

Standard runs:

April 18 – Boston Marathon http://www.baa.org

May 1 – Toronto Marathon, http://www.torontomarathon.com

May 1 – Vancouver Marathon https://bmovanmarathon.ca/register

May 20-22 – Bluenose Marathon www.bluenosemarathon.com

June 19 – Banff Marathon http://banffmarathon.com

Quirky Runs:

June 23 – For nighthawks Iceland’s Suzuki Midnight Sun Run offers a half marathon, 5 and 10 km runs.
http://www.marathon.is/the-race-midnight-run/suzuki-midnight-sun-run

July 16 – Laugavegur Ultra Marathon is run over a 55 km mountain course in Iceland. http://www.marathon.is/ultramarathon

July 25 – Swissalpine, Davos, Switzerland offers a variety of runs and walks up and down the Alps. It has events in February, April 1 and June 1, 2022 https://www.swissalpine.ch/en

August 14 – Not since Moses Run is a tide-dependent 10 km run, 5 km walk on the ocean floor in the Bay of Fundy. http://www.notsincemoses.com

Adrenaline Junky Extremist Runs:

April 13 – FWD North Pole Marathon https://www.npmarathon.com

August 28 – Comrades Marathon (an ultra 56.1-mile/90 km event) www.comrades.com

November 17 – Volcano Marathon, Atacama Desert, Chile http://www.volcanomarathon.com

December 14 – Antarctic Ice Marathon near the South Pole. http://www.icemarathon.com

October (start) –World Marathon Challenge consists of seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. http://www.worldmarathonchallenge.com

First published at Travel Industry Today

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