Le Marathon du Médoc…How to match wine & running
Tomorrow it’s Bordeaux marathon 3rd edition, a great way to discover our dazzling city…by night! It was the perfect occasion for us to tell you about our favourist sport event in Bordeaux region : The Marathon du Médoc
We wanted to share with you this funny article extracted from The Guardian, next time you come to Bordeaux for an exclusive wine tour think about doing a unique race too!
‘Booze & Sport in Bordeaux’
As any long-distance runner knows, there are a number of cardinal rules when it comes to marathons and, while waiting at the start line for my third, I realise I have broken most of them. My general health is poor, in fact I woke coughing up so much phlegm that I was reminded of Slimer from Ghostbusters; I haven’t allowed myself a good night’s sleep; and I’ve not trained in my race outfit – a police costume bought off eBay for £15 – partly from fear of getting beaten up in my north London hood, and partly because I’ve not really trained much at all.
Oh, and I’m extremely hungover. Fortunately, I’m attempting Bordeaux’s Marathon du Médoc; a running event combining “wine, sports, fun and health”, which seems to actively encourage anything that’s normally discouraged in running. Held every September in France’s Médoc region, this sounds like the most idiotic race known to man. The course is 26.2 miles through scenic vineyards and the participants – in compulsory fancy dress – are expected to indulge in 23 glasses of the famed vintages en route, while also stuffing themselves with local specialities such as oysters, foie gras, cheese, steak and ice-cream. Brilliant.
My hangover, then, is in good company, and I’m not just referring to my running partner and fellow “police officer” Birdy, whose eyes are so bloodshot he looks like a zombie. Many of the 10,000 other participants have attended one of the event’s pasta parties the previous evening: a glorious mix of wine, carbohydrates and merriment designed, I suspect, to ensure that you forget you’re running a marathon the following morning. Or, in Birdy’s case, even on the day itself.
Yet the atmosphere at the packed start line is upbeat. Everyone is grinning, most are dancing, some are even whooping – a far cry from the sombre, nervous mood of my previous marathons.
The event has even more glitz and glamour this year – fireworks and dancers at the start line and an additional 1,500 runners to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the first race. “The first official race didn’t take place until 1985, but it was meant to take place in 1984,” explains Vincent Fabre, the marathon’s president, when I question why the anniversary dates don’t quite add up. “There were some problems with administration – they’re very strict about health and safety over here.”
Glancing at the pack of Smurfs already finishing off a bottle of vino (it’s 9.30am), and the oversized baby having a fag in the starting zone, I’m not entirely convinced regulations are quite as stringent as they would be back in the UK – though I’m hardly complaining.
Having been advised by veterans that those who were serious about the Marathon du Médoc aimed to finish as close to the six-hour-30-minutes time limit as possible to take full advantage of the produce on offer, Birdy and I agree that our strategy is: take it slow. Too slow. The novelty of introducing wine to running is too much for our over-excited selves, and while slurping back our third glass of wine at Chateau Montrose – the first wine stop just over 5km along the track – it occurs to us that we’ve already taken almost an hour. Spotting the cut-off float dangerously close we decide to pick up the pace.
But after the first chateau, the stops come thick and fast, the wine and food tours and some of best Bordeaux treats – biscuits, canellés, waffles, fruit, sweets, cheese, bread, crackers – go down far too easily, and the temptation to stop for an impromptu boogie to the many wonderful local bands stationed along the route is too hard to resist.
Plus, it’s really hot: around 27 degrees without a cloud in sight. And the heat slows us down to walking pace along the stunning – but very exposed – country roads and vineyard tracks. As we approach Chateau Lafite Rothschild around halfway, we notice some runners have found an excellent way to cool down – by jumping into the Chateau’s lake. We decide to join them – along with our car keys we later realise. Who knew alcohol could affect good judgment?
It also affects the second half of a marathon, which, for the first time, I find easier than the first. Plodding along in my own merry way, I’m quite oblivious to the mileage we’re getting through. It’s Birdy who breaks into a spontaneous, projectile vomit around 18 miles (29km), necessitating another Imodium tablet. “Too late,” he shouts, seconds later, running off at a speed we could have done with a while back towards the nearest chemical toilet.
Finally, after mile 23, the oyster stop. God, the cool, lemony, saltiness washed down with white wine tastes incredible. To me, anyway. Half a mile from the end, Birdy keels over for his second vomit. Instantly a group of medics are around him checking that he’s OK. “He’s fine – just too much – you know,” I assure, making a drinking motion.
Indeed this marathon – to the organisers’ pride – has the most medical support of any in the world, not that it seems to need it. Unlike in the London and Paris marathons I only saw one floored person (a Smurf, surprise surprise) on the entire route. Maybe it’s because there is a less pressure to run fast – or maybe I was just too drunk to notice.
When we finally stumble over the finish line, sunburnt and tipsy, we’re happy. Until we realise that we have taken six hours and 52 minutes. What the hell happened? “You had fun!” says Fabre, when we meet up later. “Year after year, the Marathon du Médoc proves you can be healthy and safe while appreciating fine food, wine and our beautiful region. It isn’t about getting a good time – it’s about having a good time.”
He’s right. It’s been a long day, I’m still full of cold, and yet, undeniably, I’ve managed to have one of the most bizarre and brilliant experiences of my life. Even better, because of the heat, Birdy and I weren’t the only ones to be a bit on the slow side, so organisers extended the cut-off time by half an hour. It means that we are presented with a medal, and a splendid goody bag containing a souvenir bottle of wine and engraved red wine glasses. That beats the cereal bar they gave me in Paris.’
Source: The Guardian
How to take part
Registration for this year’s event has closed. Check the website for next year’s date (entries usually open in February or March). The race starts and finishes in Pauillac, near Bordeaux. The entry fee is £70 per person.
Despite the obvious dangers of combining extreme physical exercise and lashings of booze, organisers of the event – which began in 1984 – claim to take safety very seriously, with more medical personnel on hand than any other marathon.
As for outfits, each year has a different theme: 2016’s was “Tales and Legends”, so expect a few Robin Hoods.
What we think about it
The journalist doesn’t sweat enough the atmosphere the night before : traditional band, amazing dinner, people wearing costumes and dancing until quiet late…And ‘rebelote’ on Sunday! Great lunch again under a big tent, lots of wine & food and on top of that: Great fun!
To be fair, it’s a great way to experience the French lifestyle with a bunch of friends or for a stag/hens party for the most courageous. We advice strongly to wear a hat and some good sunnies, up to you to run it naked then. Plane a 4 days trip including a wine tour a Saint-Emilion prior the marathon, so you can see the other great vineyards of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux literally on fire and during the harvest season, definitely the right time to come to Bordeaux vineyard.
What I really think about it?
Well, when it comes to sport let’s say only 2 really matter to me : Rugby and Surf. Both are really popular in the south west region and can be done very easily. L’UBB (le local rugby team) have the biggest audience all over Europe! If you have a chance, come to the ‘Stade Chaban Delmas’ to savor a fun time with friends or family, it has a really warm atmosphere and great way to share a glass of Bordeaux wine with a local. The ticket price starts at 20EUR only.
On Sunday, after a rugby 3rd half time well handled, we all go to the beach to fresh up, here is a map of the main surfspots :
Lacanau is only 1 hour away form Bordeaux, definitely you best compromise to enjoy a good sess not too far from Bordeaux city!
Wan to give it go? Our region way of life will be only 2 hours away from Paris from July 2017 with a brand new bullet train reaching Bordeaux everyday, no more excuses people