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The Marathon des Chateaux du Medoc

By Wendy Dereix

This is not a route Pheidippides could ever have envisioned but the Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc held in the most celebrated wine region of France, is one he would have loved to run. Imagine if you will, the god Bacchus beckoning the legendary herald on his journey through the vineyards while his Athenian friends singing merrily for 26.2 miles, push/pull a caisson containing a 15-foot tall wine bottle. It is only then you begin to understand that this race claiming to be the longest marathon in the world could also claim to be the most fun.

Indeed, this is more than a marathon. It is a race for pure enjoyment of place. Running near the hamlets of Saint Julien and Saint Estephe, past the vineyards of Lafite Rothschild and Château Latour, to name a few, is a must for the wine enthusiast/runner with a race that proves the two are not mutually exclusive. Water from Château de la Pompe, as the French call water from the source, flows freely with the possibility to wine taste from the courtyards of the great winemakers of the region all along the route. I thought at first that the wine tasting was only for the hardcore, and then with sore knees at the 18-mile mark, I too discovered the red grape's medicinal value. I threw away any hope of attaining a personal best along with my plastic glass near Chateau de Pez.

Adding to the scenery of the incomparable French countryside is a festive atmosphere where costumes are encouraged and are an integral part of the fun. At any moment, I overtook or was overtaken by runners in costumes from the different regions of the country and from French folklore. I was even chased by a ragtag group of runners dressed as French revolutionaries at Mile 5 and never looked back once I spotted a guillotine in tow! You can only run a marathon like this in France.

Held in September before the harvest, the course winds through the vineyards connected by narrow roads, gravel paths and infrequent but bothersome patches of sand. The changing terrain is a challenge even for the experienced runner. Truly, it may not be a course Pheidippides could have imagined but one that he might have been willing to die to do just once. Even now, I am beginning to think once is not enough.

Send for your registration forms via e-mail at http://www.marathondumedoc.com, Registration is open now for runners through November. The deadline may be a bit more flexible for runners from outside of France.

Thanks Wendy for sharing your article.

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