Back in September a few of us travelled by train to the city of Bordeaux in France to take part in the highly acclaimed 32 nd Marathon du Medoc. We were staying at a hotel in the City centre, but the marathon starts and finishes in the little town of Pauillac in the heart of the Medoc region on the right bank of La Gironde. Travel to and from the marathon and expo (for bib collection the day before) was organised by a local company Tutti Quanti.
The marathon is famed for its love of wine! The 26.2 miles actually takes you through some 21 vineyards, where the aid stations are stocked with wine, water and various food items. An unwritten rule of the marathon, also, is that participants are encouraged to dress up – this year’s theme being tales and legends.
So, the day of the marathon dawned and the hotel provided its usual buffet breakfast at 5:30, as most of the guests were actually taking part in the marathon. Most of the guests were either British, Australian or Chinese. A rather surreal sight in the breakfast room with the colourful costumes and outfits being worn by marathon runners as they tucked in to bacon, eggs, coffee. And cake (OK, just cake for me then?).
At 6:15 we boarded the coach and headed for Pauilac, Dave dressed as St George, Vic and friends wearing their “carry me” outfits and me dressed as Ziggy Stardust (despite the purple make up being “waterproof” it was already getting hot, at 25 degrees, so I did wonder if it would last even until the race started). We made our way to the start line in the centre of the town, surrounded by just about everyone in fancy dress – Cinderellas, wizards and witches, Dorothies, Flintstones, even Jesus! Gathering at the start line I thought the lady next to me was dressed as Pippa Midddleton. Then realised that actually it was Pippa Middleton, with her boyfriend dressed as French footballer Zidan (there were quite a few Zidans). Some of the costumes were amazing, there were chariots and floats and to be honest I forgot that we were about to run a marathon as I thought we were in the middle of a carnival! But suddenly the race started and we trotted over the start line some 15 minutes later.
The race took us through the town, and the first “aid station” appeared a few meters up the road, but due to the bottle neck at this point we had to miss this one. The plan was to get the first half completed and then make the most of the aid stations, as there was a strict time limit of 6 ½ hours to complete. But, I’m hopeless at sticking to a plan, and we were stuck in enjoying the aid stations by mile 2. At most of the chateaux the wine was given out in plastic cups, and there were only a few mouthfuls in each cup, but some vineyards had several different types of wine (all red) and it seemed rude to not to try a few. Some of the vineyards had live bands playing, too, so there was a bit of dancing to be had. Dave and I managed to do the first half in well under 3 hours, which was pretty good going, with the heat, the wine and the dancing.
Vic and the boys were way ahead at this point. From about 32km the food at the aid stations became a bit more adventurous than the cheese biscuits, fruit and cake that had previously been offered. There were barbequed burgers, meat platters, oysters to name a few. Then, 1 km from the finish when you were just about to flake out with the heat, they were handing out ice creams!
We managed to cross the finish line in 6:25 (with a chip time of 6:12). Very well timed to get our medals, souvenir rucksack, bottle of Cru in a souvenir box and a rose for the ladies! Just over the finish line there was a huge tent with yet more wine, and beer, as much as you could drink for all marathon finishers. We then hobbled back to our coach to get transported back to Bordeaux, where we were joined by a group of Aussies from the hotel and we finished a fantastic day in style! (“Lets go Daaaancing”!)