Most of us know that feeling when your inner voice is nagging you to take some exercise, but you are being lured by the bottle of white chilling in the fridge. And, anyway, it’s raining outside, and the old twinge in your Achilles is playing up. One way to overcome that need to choose one ahead of the other is to combine the two.
Marathon du Médoc
On 8 September, around 8,500 intrepid runners/wine lovers will take to the start line for the Marathon du Médoc which twins the pain of participating in a marathon with the joy of good food and great wine. Dubbed the longest marathon in the world, the event near Bordeaux aims to be a fun occasion, with participants observing a fancy dress theme – last year it was 33rpm records.
The top prize for the leading man and woman is their weight in wine and, despite the temptations along the route, the 2017 winners in the men’s and women’s categories managed times of 2 hours 27 minutes and 6 seconds, and 2 hours 55 minutes 57 seconds respectively. But the big attraction for those taking it less seriously is the choice of feeding stations scattered along the course. Compared with the normal marathon refreshments of water, energy gels and wet sponges, the chance to sample Chateau Lafite Rothschild with oysters from Arcachon is somewhat more alluring and explains the popularity of the event.
Entries for next year’s race open in March at marathondumedoc.com
Surrey Bacchus Marathon
The day after the field shuffles round the wine making areas of Bordeaux, on this side of the English Channel the Surrey Bacchus Marathon and Half Marathon take place at England’s biggest vineyard, Denbies.
Although partly on footpaths around the North Downs, most of the route is on the road and there is one steep climb. But the prospect of a little glass of something at one of the six feeding stations – double that number for the marathon which covers two laps of the same circuit – should act as motivation for the tiring runner. There is also a five-mile walk/run that includes one drinks station.
A maximum of 2,700 entries are accepted and there is no fear of being stuck in a queue at the wine stations, with a staggered start (insert your own joke here about the finish!) ensuring that groups of 850 leave every 30 minutes. However, it is a challenge and marathon runners must complete the first of their two laps in no more than 2 hours 20 minutes.
The 2017 winner clocked a time of 2 hours 54 minutes and 49 seconds for the full marathon distance. If you feel brave/thirsty enough, registrations are over here.
German Wine Road Marathon
With a first prize of €1500 up for grabs, the German Wine Road Marathon attracts some serious athletes and the course record is a speedy 2 hours 20 minutes and 46 seconds. If you are not daunted by the prospect of seeing a few top runners disappearing into the distance, there is plenty of time to prepare for the next race which will take place in April 2020.
The route – there is also a half marathon – starts in the village of Bockenheim and passes the Leningerland vineyards. The mid-way point at Bad Durkheim is marked by a wine barrel. The return leg will be made easier by the wine served at drinks stations and by sponges soaked in Riesling wine that are handed out at two points around the course.
And if the undulations have taken their toll, what better way to cool down than by running through the fine spray in Herxheim am Berg which has a refreshing aroma of wine? Details about the last edition can be found juste here.
Other runs further afield:
Lanzarote Wine Run
Osoyos (British Columbia, Canada)
Fueled by Fine Wine (Oregon, USA)
So, if you’re tempted to take on the challenge, but not yet ready to look out the trainers, here are some wines that might help get you in the mood:
Médoc (Chateau de Pez, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux Left Bank, France 2011
Sussex (Limney 'Horsmondsden' Dry White, Davenport Estate, East Sussex and Kent, England 2015)
German Riesling (Riesling Mittleheimer Edelmann Trocken, Weingut Bernhard Mehrlein, Rheingau, Germany, 2017)