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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

27e Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc

The story's all in the title.

A marathon where fancy dress is compulsory, where besides the normal water and fruit stations there are wine-tasting stations and which is only two-and-a-half hours' drive from home, must be worth some consideration - that is if you've ever considered running a marathon at all.

The course (26,2 miles of course) is almost a figure-of-8 starting at the village of Pauillac on the Gironde estuary, heading south, to Beychevelle, looping back past Pauillac into St. Estephe and finishing back at Pauillac.

Of the marathons I have run/walked (7 so far) this was probably the most fun. Not necessarily the most prestigious, impressive, challenging etc, but certainly relaxed. It's true about the "oeno-sportif" wine-tasting stations - 20 of them - you do get to taste young wines from some of the most famous chateaux in France but I wasn't quite expecting that people would actually stop and chat around the bar as if they had all the time in the world. It would be very easy to forget that you were running a marathon at all. In fact perhaps some people do forget that. In most marathons there seems to be a drop-out rate of about 5-6% who don't make it to the finish. For the Medoc this figure was about 5% 12 years ago steadily rising to an average of 15% and, last year, to 21%. I guess that because of its light-hearted atmosphere participants think it must be easy and fail to train. It isn't easy and because it is run in early September, it can be hot - especially if you are one of the slower runners. Also, more than a quarter of it is run off-road, on gravel, over bumpy ground in the vineyards and on cart-tracks. There are also hills - and the occasional waits at the bars! All-in-all not a marathon for a Personal Best.

Still, it's behind me now as was a very small number of other runners.


(By the way, I'm meant to be a butterfly.)

P.S. It's true! There are oysters and steak en route too!