Text: Anda Karklinya

Photo: Kristaps Karklins

Since 1985, the French have managed to involve many more participants in their marathon than representatives of other sports. And if you love wine, and running fills you with the “dope” of well-being, then the wine marathon is the event in which you need to participate at least once in your life. Where else, if not in France, they could have come up with this: drinking wine during a marathon! Having run the distance, hand on heart and swaying slightly, I can say with confidence: yes, it is possible. Registration for this grand event starts every year in March (marathondumedoc.com). The exact time is not indicated by the organizers: you are signing up for information and are on alert! As soon as you receive a message that registration is open, you cannot hesitate, since the popularity of the marathon is enormous: up to 8,000 participants can sign up in a couple of hours. Then you wait for the beginning of September, run in parallel every morning and sew a carnival costume. Yes Yes exactly! Approximately 90% of the participants in the race are dressed in self-made costumes in accordance with the themes set by the organizers. If you appear at the start in ordinary sportswear, you will feel like a black sheep among Snow White, Neptune, Wine barrels and other creative rivals. This marathon may not be the most serious in the world, but the most fun – for sure!

At eight o’clock in the morning, we park the car, change into our costumes for a couple of bubbles and slowly head towards the start of the race, which is located in the center of Puillac. All the cafes around are packed to capacity, cheerful music sounds, accompanied by the joyful hum of the audience. It feels like you’re in the midst of a carnival. It seemed that no one was going to worry about the long 42 kilometers ahead of us. The sun, despite the early hour, beats down mercilessly, and we still do not even suspect that in the middle of the day the thermometer will rise to +35 degrees. When only 10 minutes are left before the start of the race, it becomes simply impossible to resist a smile – after all, encouraging songs sound all around, acrobats juggle over the starting strip, and jet planes take off into the air, leaving trails of multicolored smoke.

Hold your glasses!

Within a couple of hundred meters, runners will find a petit déjauner – long trays of fresh croissants, chocolate rolls, coffee and water. Of course, most of all it is impatient to reach the first of 23 wine tasting points, besides, it is necessary to prudently leave room in the stomach for oysters, which are waiting for their turn at 38th kilometer, as well as for steak at 39th and ice cream at 40 -m. The spectators on the streets are no less than the participants, constantly encouraging people are heard: “Allez! Allez! ” Near the stunningly beautiful Château Pichon Baron, the runners will find not only an orchestra, but also wine in glass goblets. O-la-la, but here you need to linger a little. Further, our path runs through the vineyards, helicopters fly overhead, from which the whole process is photographed. The flow of participants is noticeably reduced, as many have lingered at the tasting points. We are overtaken by … Banana. Which we go around again at the next tasting stop. The heat becomes a serious test, but as soon as you glance at a man in full Santa Claus outfit, you no longer pay attention to the beads of sweat running down his back. The marathon route is just a feast for the eyes! We run past picturesque vineyards and legendary wine houses, allowing us to see the famous château up close.

Half way, near Château Lafite Rotschild, the runners try to refresh themselves as best they can: some are doused with water, others dive into the inviting coolness of the castle pond. No one worries that time is running out, because, in this marathon, it is not the result that is important, but the process. Although no one would refuse the winner’s laurels, as a prize the participant receives as many liters of wine from Bordeaux as he weighs. Apparently, the Frenchman Thierry Guibault really likes this wine, it is no coincidence that he won the marathon six times.

At the 30th kilometer, the speed of the runners begins to decrease, the sun beats down mercilessly, and the amount of wine tasted is already lost count. The road winds up and down, and we say thanks to our preparation – it would be difficult to run a marathon without preliminary training, both in running and in tasting. We encourage each other, reminding us that there are only some unfortunate 12 kilometers ahead. From time to time we pour water over our head, and in the first-aid post we drink an energy infusion and do a five-minute massage to relieve leg cramps. The last kilometers are the most difficult, the charm of the vineyards is left behind and the route follows the highway along the Gironde River. We feel as if on a hot frying pan. Encouraged by the energetic melodies of the orchestra and the shouts of the fans, we are trying to gather the remaining strength! And here is the 38th kilometer, and oysters, which are seductively spread out on the ice. Marathon and food are incompatible? The French do not think so: having swallowed an oyster and washed down Bordeaux, they run on. And we follow their example!

The finish line is approaching, the Roman conquerors in full military uniform are stepping on our heels, but we still manage to get ahead of them and come running earlier! Incredible! Long five hours, but we did it – we ran the wine marathon! The workers greet us and present us with backpacks with memorable marathon souvenirs and bottles of wine. And we have a rest and exchange of emotions according to the plan. One thing is clear for sure – it was the most unforgettable marathon in our life!

Royal Holidays in Medoc

Whether you’re running a marathon or just taking a break in Medoc, we recommend staying at one of these lovely and authentic hotels.

Accommodation as a tourist attraction: the 18th century Château Ormes de Pez is located near the village of Saint-Estèphe, surrounded by picturesque vineyards. The hotel has only three rooms, which fills the holiday with a sense of intimacy and a more vivid experience of enjoying wine and art. And the lush garden invites you to philosophical seclusion in the shade of fig trees.

Located in the vicinity of Margaux, the Château du Tertre has a history spanning several hundred years. The majestic castle is surrounded by vineyards of 52 hectares, stretching far beyond the horizon. When you are here, time seems to slow down. Complete privacy, mesmerizing tranquility and the quintessence of the wine region in one place.