By Julie Biniasz
Marathon du Medoc – www.marathondumedoc.com
What could possibly be more fun than a 26.2 mile Marathon in the viticultural center of France?
You can probably think of quite a few things … but what if we threw in a festive international crowd in costume; running through vineyards and chateaus in the French countryside; and [wait, that’s not all] vineyards along the way daring you to try their delicious Bordeaux wines and still finish the race. Oh, and if you are the lucky winner of the race, you win your ‘weight in wine’ from some of the very best wineries on the planet. Medoc Marathon is a serious race known as the “longest marathon in the world” but it is also a three-day entertainment event that some simply call a non-stop party. Over 8000 people participate in the annual wine-fueled marathon. Of course, most of those who actually finish this very serious marathon forgo the wine until after the finish line, when the real party starts.
The geography and the scenery along the race course are breathtaking; the people are animated and full of joie de vivre; and you will find [depending on your proclivity] that this event is either one of the most intense athletic events you will ever experience, or one of the most crazy and fun.
The event starts with the Friday night ‘Mille de Plats’ – a high-carb pasta dinner the night before at Chateau Cantemerle. Before the dinner, there are bands, appetizers and a long line of tables where the world-class wine flows like water. Many a champion has succumbed to the call of the vine, before the battle, and this almost seems to be part of the game. Under massive and flowing white cotton tents, casual French cuisine is served along with some of the best wine from the local vineyards-chateaus of Pauillac. The night ends with dancing under the stars and it sends everyone home for a little rest before the big trek with a massive firework display above the Chateau.
Every year Medoc Marathon has a new theme for the event. This year, the 28th annual event, the theme was “history”. We saw Roman Gladiators, Egyptians, Templar Knights, Cavemen, Samurai’s and of course the Statue of Liberty, along with many other costumes that cannot be explained! The most enjoyable part of this race is to run through the vineyards and Chateau’s – and to soak in the breath-taking scenery. Not to mention the gracious French people on the sidelines, that read the name off your running tag, call your name and offer shouts of “Courage!” and “Allez, Allez”! This is not your ordinary marathon – get this: there are over 53 bands and 25 gastronomic stations. Of course, the usual water, bananas and oranges along the way, but they also offer local oysters, steak, baguettes with cheese, and did we mention the wine from the prestigious vineyards of Chateau LaFite Rothchilds, Chateau Latour and Saint Estephe. If you succumb to the temptation, you may or may not finish the race! The 2012 race was very hot and dry, and it was estimated that only 50% of the participants actually finished the race. My good friend and I managed to finish the “Longest Marathon in the World”, we got our medals at the finish line, and we then we celebrated with some pool time and a 5-star French dinner!
This is such an amazing event, and truly, a once in a lifetime adventure. If this sounds interesting, you will need to watch the website starting in early January in order to sign up. The marathon sells out fast and you’ll need to book reservations at the local chateaus and restaurants well in advance. Book a chateau with a pool to help recover and – oh – bring lots of sunscreen.