The first question you ask yourself when you sign up for a marathon probably shouldn’t be, ‘who will be the designated driver?’ Unless of course you are signing up for the infamous Marathon du Médoc. Now in its 31st year the marathon is growing in popularity and infamy. If you’ve not heard of it let me explain. The Médoc Marathon is held in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France. Bordeaux is of course famous for great wine, and the Médoc is where the best of the best comes from. The marathon starts in Pauillac, alongside the Gironde river and makes its way through some of the most famous, and stunning, vineyards in the world. And those vineyards like to give you wine, lots of wine. In 2015 there were 16 official wine stops on route with more available from the local villagers if you needed topping up. Oh, and don’t forget the pre-marathon party (with wine), the bottle of wine in your finishers pack, the post-marathon beer tent (free to all finishers), the post-marathon party and fireworks (with beer and wine tents) and the Sunday recovery walk through more vineyards (with wine) and recovery lunch (well you can probably work out what’s served with that!). How does that all sound? Pass the paracetamol? And, this is probably the only marathon you’ll do where they serve oysters, steak, waffles and ice-cream as you go round. Antacids?
Well this year was our fourth year at the Médoc Marathon, my second competing, and first completing the full marathon. I’ve been very unlucky with this event, picking up injuries prior to the marathon three years in a row. This year I was determined to finish even if I had to crawl round, and trust me after the first ten wine stops you see some people that are very nearly crawling, so I wouldn’t have looked out of place. We’ve had a mixture of weather, our first time it was in the low 90s! This year it started hot and sunny (I also started with red hair). Then halfway through the rain started, and it didn’t stop for nearly three hours (by the time I finished all the hair dye had been washed out, not a trace of red left). But there is so much going on around you that you don’t even think about the rain, or that you are walking 26.2 miles. From rock bands to jazz, brass bands to dj’s and even a George Michael wannabe, the entertainment is incredible. The only thing better is the support. All the local villagers turn out; helping with marshalling, cheering you on, cooling you down with their garden hose, belting out Abba classics from their stereos. They are quite simply amazing.
My only grumble with the marathon is the ‘sweep-up truck.’ To ensure that participants get round in the allotted 6hrs 30mins, there is a sweep-up truck, manned by people with actual brooms, who chase you along and beep horns in your ear. They are lovely people, I got to know them quite well, but when they have been on your heels for nearly two hours you start to resent them a little bit! But also without them I wouldn’t have achieved my current pb, having knocked 21 minutes off my old one. So I begrudgingly say, merci.
This is a fantastic event, even if you don’t like wine, there is so much going on, so many different events, that you are guaranteed to have an amazing time. It also has an incredible international following. I’ve spoken to runners and walkers from all over the world, for some it’s their first time, for others they come back every year.
If you fancy taking part next year, it will be held on the 10th September. Registration normally opens in February, however it is now such a popular event, that you will have to keep an eye out for when it opens, and register as soon as it does.
Oh, and did I mention, it is compulsory fancy dress? Next year’s theme: Tales and Legends.