Running the Marathon du Medoc is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever taken part in. That’s why it appealed to me so much. It’s certainly not for the serious marathon runner. With 22 wine stops and so much food that you could consume more calories than you burn off, you have to ignore the Garmin and just go with the flow. This is the marathon where you go to have a good time, not get a good time. Oh, and fancy dress is compulsory. This year’s theme was music, so naturally I dressed as my hero Angus Young from AC/DC 🙂
The carnival atmosphere at the start line sets the tone for a completely bonkers event that’s basically one big running party!
Setting off from the small town of Pauillac near Bordeaux, the course weaves through vineyards and the courtyards of beautiful chataeux where you can sample some of the wine they produce. My plan was to stick to water until 35km because I don’t drink often so I get tipsy easily. Plus, I have a kidney condition that means I have to stay well hydrated, so running and boozing is not advisable. Typically my back ache and bunions decided to flare up that day making every step very painful. In hindsight, I wish I’d have started necking the wine earlier because I think it helped to numb the pain!
The array of costumes was truly astounding, and not confined to musical themes: I saw a man wearing a pole with Marge Simpson on the top of it and all the other Simpsons hanging off horizontal bars attached to it. There was a Baywatch squad including one member being eaten by a shark, several bananas and a woman wearing a huge Eiffel Tower. As to be expected, there were numerous David Bowies, Kiss, Abba, Village People and a few other people dressed as Angus. One of my favourites though was Jesus wearing a big cross on his back…maybe he turned all the water into wine.
We had all weathers that day, from blazing sun and blue sky to dark clouds and torrential rain. At one point I was so wet I couldn’t even unlock my iPhone to take some video! I was certainly glad of that baseball cap to keep the rain off my face!
I had been due to run with a friend and her boyfriend but they pulled out a few days beforehand. Although I was disappointed for them not to be able to take part, I have always run alone so I wasn’t put off doing it on my own. I knew that one of my colleagues was running with some friends and we’d met up the day before at the expo. They crossed the start line before me (I was delayed in the queue for the toilet as usual!) so they were about five minutes ahead of me.
Because I passed on the wine until the later stages I managed to catch them up…they’d stopped at every wine station! Towards the end of the course the food stops get really interesting with oysters, steak, corn on the cob, cheese and ice creams on offer. I’m vegetarian so I skipped the oysters and steak (38km into a marathon probably isn’t the best time to try oysters for the first time anyway!). We finished the race together in just under six hours with a final downpour just before we crossed the line.
The winners were weighed after the race (you can just see the scales on the stage behind me) and won their weight in wine! Despite the pain and getting soaked it was definitely the most fun I’ve had on a marathon, and this was my sixth. Would I do it again? Well, immediately afterwards I was adamant this would be my last, but I’ve said that after the last five. A week later I’m itching to get out for a run, and who knows, there may be a seventh 😉
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