Further to my post about enticing race destinations for all tastes (Picking your destination runs – or walks), one of my blog readers reminded me of one of the most enticing races of all, the Marathon of Médoc in France. The Paris Marathon is known for replacing at least one wine stop with a water stop, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the Marathon of Médoc.
I first learned about this race when reading an interesting new on-line fashion and design magazine, The Genteel, in an article entitled Exercise Like Dionysus. This marathon takes the participants through the beautiful chateaux country near Bordeaux in southwestern France. While it does cover the requisite 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometres), the running is not the main focus of this fête. It’s about food, costumes, fun, and especially about wine.
The Médoc wine region near Bordeaux includes more than 30 magnificent chateaux and beautiful vineyards. These chateaux include familiar names like Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Latour, which partake in the provisioning of the 23 drink stations along the race route, opening their grounds and cellars for this grand event. There are also countless food stops along the course – that’s French food – serving local delicacies from foie gras and oysters to entrecote steak and ham to cheese and fruit.
The party usually starts at least a day ahead of the race, making for some boisterous and hung-over participants before the race has even begun. Each year’s race has a theme, allowing participants to narrow their costume considerations in advance, since aside from world-renown wines and food along the route, runners in fancy dress outnumber runners in everyday running attire. This year’s theme is the history of Médoc, providing inspiration for kings, courtiers, historical military attire, etc. Creative costuming is definitely encouraged.
The Marathon of Médoc calls itself the longest marathon in the world, meaning the slowest! Its organizers – and registration form – openly discourage applications from people concerned with their run time. Apparently they also discourage anyone who is “sad, unfriendly or stressed out.” This marathon gives you a medal if you cross the finish line within six and a half hours, but many people never get their medals! Nobody runs the Marathon of Médoc for their time. They run for the wine.
This year’s race cum party is being held on September 8. More information can be found at http://www.marathondumedoc.com/.