The 35(ieme) running of the Medoc Marathon was on the 7th September, but it always feels a lot longer ago when you actually do it, even for the second time.
The Bordeaux region around Pauillac contains some of the most expensive land in the world, home to wines classified in the late 19th century as the greatest France has to offer. With pristine château and manicured lawns set amongst the vineyards its an odd place to run a marathon over, especially when you are drinking their wines at the same time.
19 harriers and a few friends took on the challenge this year, with most taking the train down to the region and staying along the Atlantic coast. Martin and Stewart decided this wasn’t enough and spent a week cycling there instead (and back!)
Our main aim this year was to get to the startline a bit earlier and get ahead of the mass throng of over 8000 runners and the 6hr30ish sweeper car – a monstrosity made up of 2 bicycles covered in upturned brooms, scary clowns and klaxons. Due to this early start, we got to see Pamela Anderson changing into his lifeguard outfit in a nearby window, the full circus display over the race on wires and a 2 jet flypast. Its really something special.
Costumes are compulsory for the race, this year’s theme – superheros. So we appropriately went as ‘Superdupont’, a patriotic Gallic stereotype from the collapse of the old order of postwar France with the whatever-is-required plot powers of Superman IV. Stewart went as ‘Iron Bru man’ but it was hard to tell if that wasn’t just his regular Scottish attire.
The race begins in a sea of different costumes and even some wheeled vehicles carrying anything from a giant viking sailboat to a potion (wine) cauldron for a number of Asterix characters, including Getafix himself. This year the normal 1km degustation was instead postponed until at least 6km into the race, which was a thankful change to get everything moving, but also concerning that we’d signed up to the wrong event. Getting ahead also meant we had more time to enjoy each of the over 20 stops with music, food and wine – plastic cups for some, proper wine glasses for the serious vintages.
We encountered a small problem in that going as a well-known national ‘stereotip’ meant we were not alone in our costume choice, there were more than a few times where we tried to catch up with someone we thought had got ahead, only to find they were part of another group.
I’ll leave describing the race to conversation in the bar, mainly because I can’t remember it, but the defining running moments were evidenced in the last 15km. The latest issue of Runner’s World has covered how wine used to be given out in running events, we could see why as the pace increased dramatically until we were barrelling over and around the same people after each stop. Clearly some of them not properly enjoying the event. This weaving did mean we covered a fair bit more than marathon distance, first ultrawine marathon anyone?
Of note, my Strava heart rate graph either shows this increase in pace, or the red colour is a good indication of my blood alcohol level. I can’t be sure.
Crossing the finish line you are presented with a boxed bottle of wine and a beer cup that hangs round your neck. We moved through the beer tent and lay in the sun, using the tried and tested method of rock paper scissors to determine who had to get the free rounds in an empty wine box. Proceeding along the front we had a fine dinner as the sun (and temperature) went down and the evening took off with some very French music, fireworks and what appeared to be some kind of child auction that Adam can probably explain better. We eventually stumbled back to our Lidl carpark and into our nearby tents, where I took on the sound advice of ignoring the offer of a sizeable tent and somehow crammed myself into a tiny Citroen to sleep it all off.
The next day was spent on a tranquil beach by lake Hourtin, to cut a long story short the bar took more that day than in August. They probably regretted not having an extra keg handy.
A marathon is a long distance, especially when you spend nearly 7 hours doing it drinking wine, but I will continue to recommend doing this event at least once. It’s evident at the expo just how many events are trying to copy Medoc, with a ‘dramathon’ in Scotland and the Bacchus marathon in Surrey. They all pale in comparison to the scope, beauty and sheer Frenchness of this race. I don’t think it can be replicated.
Of the 8134 finishers, the first harrier home was Mark Taylor who got ahead of us at one point, however he put his club down as Tonbridge so he is disqualified. I’d also like to point out that a large number of you clearly wanted me to have a final organisational headache by putting down a bunch of random places for your club. Thanks!
|Classement||Temps||Nom Prénom||Groupe/Club||Cat./Clt cat.|
|3640||06h07m44s||TAYLOR MARK||TONBRIDGE (GBR)||M3H / 238|
|6251||06h37m57s||ALEXANDER JEFFREYS||WEYBRIDGE (??)||SEH / 1411|
|6252||06h37m57s||HOWDEN SIMON||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||M1H / 1416|
|6253||06h37m57s||STEELE EDWARD||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||SEH / 1412|
|6254||06h37m58s||ROBINS KEVIN||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||M1H / 1417|
|6255||06h37m58s||STADDON MIKE||CHARLBURY (GBR)||SEH / 1413|
|6256||06h37m58s||CARTER RICHARD||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||SEH / 1414|
|6257||06h37m58s||GILL CATHY||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||SEF / 602|
|6259||06h37m59s||EAMES ANDREW||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||SEH / 1415|
|6262||06h37m59s||FITZPATRICK KIERAN||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||SEH / 1416|
|6263||06h37m59s||DENNIS ADAM||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||M1H / 1418|
|6265||06h38m00s||MCILWHAM STEWART||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||M2H / 1129|
|6384||06h39m38s||JOAD ANDREW||GROOMBRIDGE (GBR)||M2H / 1153|
|6388||06h39m41s||AUSTIN STEPHEN||TONBRIDGE (??)||M3H / 376|
|6390||06h39m41s||TIMMINS COLIN||TONBRIDGE (GBR)||M2H / 1155|
|6395||06h39m42s||PIERCE NICK||KENT (GBR)||M3H / 377|
|7497||06h55m42s||SMITH AMANDA||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||M2F / 537|
|7498||06h55m42s||HOBBS MARTIN||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||M2H / 1271|
|7500||06h55m42s||TSANG CAROL||TUNBRIDGE WELLS (GBR)||M1F / 813|