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Set in the stunning Bordeaux region of France, the Marathon du Medoc course weaves through ancient villages, vibrant vineyards and alongside some of the most famous Wine makers in the region including Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
Not the most conventional of marathons, almost 3/4 of the participants wear fancy dress, the aid stations allow for wine and cheese and most of the prizes are in Wine.
The day is filled with various shows and entertainment in the harbour area along the quays, catering not only for runners but also for the tens of thousands of spectators.
The Marathon village near the wine-culture-centre “Maison du Vin” is also open throughout the day and offers entertainment and regional specialties. In the evening the village of Pauillac puts on a Fireworks display.
Just letting you know I had a great time at Marathon du Medoc. What a great event. It would be the best marathon I have ever done. Everyone was so happy, the day was overcast and I think about 21 degrees, perfect for running. Everything was well organised, the ladies at Le Continental in Bordeaux were so helpful. My race pack was waiting for me when I arrived at the hotel. The walk and lunch on Sunday was great, although it was a bit hard to start walking after doing the marathon the day before, but as my legs warmed up I was right. The lunch was fantastic. The French certainly know how to put on a feed. Thank you for all you help and I will definitely use Travelling Fit in the future. I am looking forward to my next adventure with Travelling Fit.
The event was truly magnificent and something you need to see to really believe. A day in my life I will hold dear forever. It is a giant, extravagant, generous, party. The way the whole town gets involved is amazing. The Travelling Fit team were amazing. Travelling Fit provides a service and care that I have not seen from another business, ever. It was surprising, refreshing and we will be back for more!!
Travelling Fit staff went beyond their call of duty to help and assist everyone. Their organisational skills and support were first class. I loved every minute I was in Bordeaux, mixing with the Travelling Fit runners and staff. One of my top 5 running experience. May do it again soon. Thank you so much for making my dream come true, keep up the excellent work.
Thank you for a great Marathon Medoc. We loved every minute and never thought a marathon could be so much fun. It was wonderful not worrying about time for once in our life! Usually a marathon is 42km of pain - but before there was any pain during Medoc we stopped and had a wine, cheese, oyster, steak or ice cream. Absolutely perfect! It is impossible for you to improve - you do everything so well. Just keep it up. We are your biggest fans.
Flights and Additional Travel
Travelling Fit is a fully accredited travel agency which offers a full range of services to our clients. This enables us to book your flights and additional touring to help us assist you in creating your perfect holiday experience.
The entry fee for the Marathon du Medoc is included in the price of your package.
In accordance with French law all runners are required to produce proof of their fitness to participate in running competitions in the form of a medical certificate issued by a doctor following a medical examination.
There are no qualifying times for this event but all entrants must be born prior to 7th September 1998 to enter the race.
The Marathon du Medoc starts at 9:30am.
There is a 6h30m cut-off time for the Marathon du Medoc.
There is a sweeper marking the “back of the pack” and all runners who fall behind the sweeper are automatically eliminated from the race
Time keeping will be done by an electronic chip embedded in your running bib.
Race packs will be delivered to the hotel you have chosen from one of the Travelling Fit packages
There are no official pace setters at the Marathon du Medoc.
There are drink stations every 2 to 3 kilometers, as well as over 20 wine tasting stands, special events and also various food points (oysters, entrecote steak, cheese and other delicacies).
Medical assistance will be provided in First Aid tents as well as by mobile first aid units.
Personal Refreshments and Clothing
There is no facility to take personal refreshments out on the course.
All transportation to and from the various events will be included as part of your Travelling Fit marathon package, including a private coach to/from the event on race day for all runners and spectators.
There will be an Expo held on Friday 7th September at the COSEC in Pauillac from 10am till 11pm. A complimentary shuttle is available from Bordeaux.
NOTE: The race packs will be delivered to you at your hotel so there is no requirement for you to attend the expo.
Finishers T-shirts, Medals and Certificates
All finishers will receive a bottle of wine on completion of the Marathon, as well as a medal, sports bag and numerous other gifts.
The average September temperature in Medoc is 25 degrees Celsius.
Sunday 09 September 10km vineyard walk including lunch (this is included in your Travelling Fit Marathon package ).
Le Marathon du MédocWhere to start with my Marathon du Medoc 2017 experience? This is not a single day race. This is a week long race. So don’t sprint too early and be prepared for a marathon. And a Personal Worst ...
Where to start with my Marathon du Medoc 2017 experience? This is not a single day race. This is a week long race. So don’t sprint too early and be prepared for a marathon. And a Personal Worst (PW) time.
Wednesday 6 September
I arrived into Bordeaux by train, took the lazy option of a taxi to Hotel Continental by HappyCulture, and checked in. I had pre-booked a manicure and pedicure (I do like to have something pretty to look at while running!) so headed off for those, and then met the Travelling Fit organiser and a couple of other runners and their supporters at the other hotel for a quick hello. I also had dinner with J from Bendigo, while her husband recovered from his sickness in his room. She was a hoot AND what an inspiration! 14 marathons in just 2 years – AMAZING!
Thursday 7 September
Travelling Fit organised a day tour (walking only!) to Arcachon including Oysters, Prawns, Pate and Wine. Here we started the day with a walk up Europe’s largest sand dune, Dune du Pilat and amazing views over the sea and forest. The photo really doesn’t do it justice!
We also visited the Summer and Winter Towns, checked out a cute souvenir shop and I stopped for a baguette before lunch (since I’m not a fan of oysters or any kind of seafood, really). I also climbed a tower with a very loose spiral staircase for views of the city. The adrenaline to my thighs and all the stairs I’d already walked at the hotel and up the sand dune probably didn’t make this a great idea. Lunch was at the port, and I did enjoy the wine, but less so the oysters (although I did try three with a mixture of lemon juice and aioli). We rounded the visit off with crepes for dessert at a nearby cafe before the bus took us back to the hotel.
Our race packs were ready when we got back; they included our bibs, a poster (I’m really unsure why I’m even trying to get this home and uncrushed!), an energy mix to add to water, a vanilla shower gel and the race guide (mostly in French).
BTW, people do the craziest things in Bordeaux. Like allowing their dog to walk off leash down the grassy tram tracks with cars driving either side. Yes, the trams do operate.
Friday 8 September
It’s the day before race day! I joined a small group (just 4 including myself plus our Travelling Fit host) for a 7.5km run along Bordeaux’s Garonne River, across the Pont de Pierre, with its seventeen arches, the same number as letters in Napoleon’s full name, before heading back across Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas which opens to allow cruise ships into the port.
Otherwise, it was a pretty relaxed day, although the evening was busier with the pasta dinner. No tours so I did a tiny bit of shopping and prepared myself for the following day.
The pasta dinner was anything but relaxed! It started with an almost 2 hour bus trip (not the highway kind but the stop/start, left turn/right turn, and roundabouts kind) from Bordeaux to Chateau Livran, an hour of wine and aperitifs on the front lawn while we laughed at those already in costume, before prematurely joining the queue to head inside.
Once inside, ‘wow’ is an understatement! 1000+ seats at trestle tables, an enormous dance floor lit up in purple, the band already playing on stage and guests and staff absolutely everywhere!
To start the night off right, the MC (in French, of course) thanks and welcomes to the stage the chefs, next the servers and finally the wine servers (who receive the biggest cheers of all; and these get louder when it is announced that “the wine will now be served”). It wasn’t long before the table of Englishmen behind us (who were running as the Village People the next day) were sculling from the bottle. Interestingly, the Builder (and drunkest of the lot, and he just got messier as the night went on much to our table’s entertainment) is actually a good ballroom dancer as we saw later on the dance floor. I had to beat him across the finish line!
First course was a delicious cold tuna pasta, followed by a delicious beef lasagna, then a warm Camembert cheese and crackers, then dessert which was a weird rice pudding with a berry sauce (not my fav!) and wine… lots and lots and LOTS of wine! I moderated myself… or at least I think I did. I had two wines on the front lawn, and maybe 3 inside(?) And I had plenty of water. One for one measurements. I was running a marathon the next day after all!
Between the main course and dessert we were herded outside, wine in hand, to watch a stunning display of fireworks. I’ve never had that at a pasta dinner before!
Then the dancing started (or continued, depending on how you looked at it, I guess). There was the very popular conga-line which took over the room, and then song after song after song. The dancefloor was crowded and everyone was having a blast!
In no time at all, it was 11pm we were back on the bus to Bordeaux, which was a slightly shorter trip this time, and I was in bed by 12:40am (about 4 hours later than I’d usually be asleep by when running a marathon the following day).
Saturday 9 September
IT’S RACE DAY!! And I am unwell. Really unwell. And I need more sleep. I was woken by my alarm at 5:30am as planned, swiftly showered and dressed in my costume which I’d ironed the day before, and staring at two small croissants and a pain au chocolat by 6am. I can’t eat them. I try a sip of orange juice. It’s all I can stomach. I’ve never run a marathon before without breakfast. Leaving the food untouched, I join the 50+ others a part of the Travelling Fit group at the other hotel. I miss being in the group photo as I’m too busy throwing up outside. At least it was elegantly and privately done. I’m not so lucky the next time.
The 1.5 hour bus trip to the start line was a disaster but at least I’m not the only sick person today. One of the others (let’s call her S) throws up near the front of the bus in a plastic bag, but then in the row behind me another lady (called N) projectile vomits. It slightly hits me, and gets the back of my bus buddy (called L). There was no chance of ducking. Poor N has made a mess of her awesome Cyndi Lauper costume. The smell sets me off, and I just make it off the bus in time to be sick in a garden bed. N and I were at the pasta dinner last night, but S was not. We aren’t sure what’s set us all off. We re-board the bus, and while I throw up in a plastic bag before we arrive, there aren’t really any more dramatic incidents.
We’re at the start zone! Bus buddy, L and I are waiting in a queue for the toilets. We finally work out that A) it’s taking so long because the single toilet washes itself between each guest which makes it very wet, and a 3-4 minute process per person and B) there’s no toilet paper inside so we give up the queue and head for the field for a pre-race squat. That done, I throw up again (and get mooned a belly dancer’s butt) but manage to get the dry heaving under control with 2 minutes to spare before the race gun goes off. It’s all about the timing, people!
What a race start! As we follow our fellow runners down the start chute, we pass under a band playing IN THE AIR with acrobats hanging off of them. Craziest race start I’ve ever seen. The music continues throughout little towns, and at each chateau/wine stop there’s a live band playing or singing tunes. Sometimes runners are dancing, but always clapping and cheering.
The costume choices are insane, and not all Rock n Roll themed like the race! Hundreds of Village People, Elvis impersonators, an Eiffel Tower (being carried), Simpsons, belly dancers, Frenchmen, KISS (who had time to do makeup this morning!), bottles of beer and champagne. There are runners proudly wearing their national colours and symbols from Denmark, Finland, France and Spain. The variety amongst 8500 runners is never-ending. I went as an Elvis Presley fan-girl.
Then there’s the race itself. The atmosphere (excitement, fun, laughter, happiness, nerves) is off the chart, even before the drinking starts. But be prepared for a lot of stop/starts and weaving. The first was about 800m from the start line and I’m not even certain what created the bottleneck. Or the second one. The third was definitely for food and water though. And there was plenty of food! The water stations all included bottled water, cola, quartered oranges, fruit cake, chocolate biscuits, bananas, quartered apples, and some featured raisins and I think I saw sugar cubes at one point. Later down the track, there was cheese and baguettes, a whole oyster station, steak (which I didn’t see), corn and ice cream. These were intermixed with 20+ stops for wine at various chateaus. It was a mad rush for food and wine at every stop. The crowd was eager to be dined! Given the way my stomach had been this morning, I held off on anything but sips of water until 16kms when I discovered I was hungry. I tried a cola. When I kept that down, I added a slice of apple and since it also stayed down, I added a few more slices and a chocolate biscuit. But at 24kms I was hit again with nausea so went back to my bottled water until 40kms when I grabbed a delicious and cooling chocolate and vanilla ice cream. It stayed down! Woohoo!
My pink skirt lasted until 6kms in, then I decided it was too hot, my legs were sweating up a storm and I tossed it. The navy petticoat made it all the way back to the hotel rubbish bin. Not sure why I didn’t ditch it earlier! I was with L until about 8kms but we lost each other in the crowd and she took off, finishing in (a slow time for her) respectable sub 4 hours.
The weather was a mixed bag but at least it had a consistent pattern: sunny and hot, followed by a dark cloud, rain and wind for about 5-10 minutes which was enough to cool everyone down, before the sun showed up again to dry everyone off. It did make for some muddy pathways into the chateaus (and many of them had scrapped their pretty white stones aside so the runners just had mud to contend with).
I ran the first half reasonably well (except for struggling to get my head around the stop/starts and the lack of competition involved in this race. These continued until the end as runners would slow to a walk into each new wine or water stop), and passed the Travelling Fit spectators/supporters and mascot Skippy around the 20km marker. After the first half, I walked at a very brisk pace until the finish. My aim was to enjoy the vineyards, the atmosphere and still finish in the 6:30 hour cut off, and not allow my stomach bug to take my medal from me. There’s no DNF in me! I was caught up by N’s partner R after 27kms (he’d ditched his Boy George costume by then) and walked the rest of the race with him, except for the last 500m where we jogged and weaved past runners taking photos to the finish line.
The male winner finished in 2:27:06. While I’d have loved to have won my weight in wine, I wasn’t even close to winning!
I finished in 6:24:20, a Personal Worst, on purpose! And was 4931 out of 7913 finishers. Quite a few people were swept away by the finisher brooms (seriously, it was a cart carried by runners, filled with brooms!). Out of the Travelling Fit group, N and S dropped out at the half way mark, J had picked up a chest infection so she also dropped out at this point and R was swept away with the brooms.
Did I beat the Friday night drunk Village People Builder though? I don’t know!! L said she passed them about the 9km mark and they were drinking again then, and Builder wasn’t looking so hot shot.
Once past the finish line, it’s time to queue from the all important prizes. First, there’s the cute red guitar medal, then for the women, a single rose (mine was yellow!), then a record round branded bag, a bottle of wine in a beautiful branded timber box (as I found out, the wines seem to be from different vineyards and vintage) and lastly a branded plastic cup and lanyard for more drinking. No way.
Since I’d made the most of the course, I only had a short time available to find the Travelling Fit host and group of spectators and other runners before hobbling back to the bus. No massage for me, but I did have time for a short sit and chat. Naturally it rained on the hobble back to the bus so N, R and I took shelter until it passed. We made it back to the bus with 10 mins to spare before departure. Plenty of time to change out of my wet and muddy shoes and socks and into dry thongs.
Unfortunately, one couple in aerobic leotards did not reach the bus. We assumed they were lost or had forgotten the cutoff but they’d decided to make friends and party on into the night. It made for an interesting adventure as we left them behind at 5:20pm. With their bags and money on the bus and their phones out of charge, they befriended a random bus driver to return them to a random spot in Bordeaux, and followed this up by befriending a random Syrian refugee to help them locate their hotel.
I did walk the stairs to my room; faster than the lift. But it was a struggle. After such a big day, I had a quick dinner and crashed out early. But dreamed about the memories…
Sunday 10 September
After 10 hours of sleep I’m feeling much better! But I pack two spare plastic bags for the bus trip just in case. I didn’t feel awesome, but no puking today. It’s the last Medoc Marathon activity; a relaxing 10km walk around the vineyards tasting wines followed by a four course lunch at Chateau Livran. I’m regretting now not tracking the walk on Runkeeper. Oh well. I did the walk, I tasted some wine (is it really bad to say I haven’t found a favourite in Bordeaux yet?). There aren’t many snacks while out walking so keep that in mind before you head out. I also didn’t have breakfast today.
The lunch was as fantastic as Friday night’s pasta dinner. Too much food, too much wine (which our table kept refilling at the tank) and lots more dancing to first African American music and then Latin American songs! I skipped the wine this time; my taste buds were not loving it. That concluded the official activities; we were back on the bus to Bordeaux; this time with everyone who’d left Bordeaux that morning on the same bus.
Best sight today? I was going to award it to the 50-something guy at lunch who hadn’t realised the fancy dress was during the marathon. He looked like he’d come from a 1970’s porno, without the moustache, but with the Fabio-long and wavy hair. But what made him very unique was the gold poolside shorts he was wearing. But wait. There’s more. These pants were practical! Someone had sewn pockets into them!
But my real winner for the day: A guy who looked like Wolverine (massively wolf-like hair) wearing what appeared to black leather pants and nothing else (yes, bare chested) walking down the road (not on a footpath!) towards our bus as we headed back to Bordeaux. No idea why. Pretty sure I didn’t imagine him.
Would I do this again?
Hell yes! But I’d bring a bunch of happy-go-lucky mates and skip the pasta dinner. I’d also prepare myself better for a leisurely day of wine tasting with little jogs in between. And pack a camera with a long lasting battery as my iPhone barely took any and died 12 mins before the finish just tracking the run.
Marathon du MedocThe 2017 theme for the Marathon du Medoc was “Music in 33 ⅓ RPM”. Rule number one of Medoc is that you take part in fancy dress. Race day began at the Le Continental Hotel in Bordeaux at ...
The 2017 theme for the Marathon du Medoc was “Music in 33 ⅓ RPM”. Rule number one of Medoc is that you take part in fancy dress.
Race day began at the Le Continental Hotel in Bordeaux at 4:20am, to become Cilla Black. This involved dressing as the 1960s singer as well as looking like I was from the 1960s in terms of a grayscale effect.
Getting ready for this event took close to an hour and involved taping nipples and the belly button as the seam of the dress would rub in these places, taping my head with HandyGrip Cohesive bandage (the non-adhesive bandage left over from last year’s Hume Hovell 100km event) so that the wig would stay on during the run, painting my face and upper arms grey, putting on the 60s style ‘chessboard’ dress, the beehive wig, the green and gold Australian wristbands and finally the white compression socks and Hoka running shoes. The hat and the Jackie Onassis sunglasses were in the Spibelt and attached to the Spibelt in case of emergency (for the hat). I had to do some emergency deforestation on my legs to remove some leg hair that was showing below the dress, adding a few more razor cuts for the collection.
I went downstairs to breakfast and wasn’t really sure of the reaction I received dressed in costume. I did notice other runners in costume (e.g Angus Young) so I didn’t feel as if I had got the date, location or event wrong. Jane Anderson just shook her head when she saw my costume. The pre-run breakfast consisted of a bowl of muesli, water, apple juice and 6 croissants.
Runners and supporters walked as a group from Le Continental to the Le Normandy hotel to meet the other Travelling Fit runners for a 6:45am departure to Pauillac. Our group photo includes runners dressed as Angus Young, Devo, Boy George, Madonna, the ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ (my description) from Guernsey all dressed as Freddie Mercury, two aerobics instructors preserved from the 1980’s as well as yours truly as Cilla Black.
According to Lee from Travelling Fit the bus ride from Bordeaux to Pauillac may have set a new Travelling Fit record with 3 people being sick at one time. I sat next to Peta on the ride and she said that I looked pretty ill as well but that was just the face paint. After just over an hour and two stops along the way, we arrived at Pauillac to see other runners heading to the start in various costumes.
Once off the bus. I went to the back of the bus to finish off painting exposed areas of skin (arms, shoulders, back of neck and legs) to complete the look for Cilla Black. My friend Samantha took a photo of me, I said goodbye to Lee and I said that I will see you on the course, then followed the brightly-dressed crowd for the start.
Security took some time to pass through as the crowd was funnelled into 3 or 4 guards who checked bags and fired off toy guns. I entered the start area at 9:05am ready to run from 9:30am. The pre-race entertainment was great with a 3 man band playing from a platform suspended over the start line. Runners were dancing to the music, taking photos and comparing costumes.
Money for Nothing from Dire Straits was the cue for the race to begin. Two French fighter jets provided a flyover over the start, there was a dix á un countdown and the race was on. Confetti was everywhere as you crossed the start line.
There was so much to take in during the run so I will mention the memorable parts of the race (code for I’m only writing what I can remember here).
The first 5 to 6 km was quite crowded with 2 wine stops during this time. I decided to skip these stops. I was passed twice during this time by Jane who was walking the event. My first wine stop was at Chateau Beychevelle after about 10km (I think).
As for costumes and sights on the course; far too many to remember and mention: Those I could recognise and remember from the run included ABBA, Kiss, the Beatles (pushing a cart and singing Yellow Submarine), the Beach Boys, Slash from Guns & Roses, Baywatch babes, punks, the Eagles, Bob Marley, Crazy Frog, one runner dressed as the Eiffel Tower and another runner dressed as Jesus (carrying the cross).
Toilet stops were made within the vines in various vineyards. Each chateau that the course passed was well presented with wine to sample, either in glasses or cups. Some chateaux had bands playing on course which added to the fun. I did try to high five a lot of the children on the way. Supporters would shout out “Allez Magan” which was strange but this was because the prenom was where the nom should have been on the bib and vice versa. Obviously “Allez John” would have sounded better and easier to say. I would stop and pose with supporters on the side of the road or at chateau who were in costume as well.
Our leader Lee and support crew (including Samantha and Jane’s husband Royce) provided moral support and the opportunity for photos at the 20km mark of the run.
From memory I had between 6 to 8 glasses of wine during the run, including at Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Lilian Ladouys. There was one point where I was attempting to look refined and elegant while drinking a glass of red in front of an official cameraman but I managed to spill the wine down the front of the dress.
During the run there were two heavy storms, one late in the run around 35km which made the going quite tough in the Hokas running through a muddy vineyard.
Food and water was plentiful at the stops on the course including fruit, croissants and cakes. For this run I kept to the banana slices and at one stop, sampled the tomato (shades of Tokyo marathon here). In the interest of value for entry I did stop for an oyster and white wine, the steak and the glace (ice cream) in the run towards the finish.
Four hours, 41 minutes after hearing “now look at them yo-yo’s” on the other side of the road, I crossed the finish line. I felt comfortable the whole run, slow at the start before finishing the second half of the run quite strongly. The red beehive wig stayed in place for the entire run. I was met at the finish by the event mascot and received a guitar shaped finisher medal.
During the whole run I did not see another runner dressed similar to me. I scanned the finish chutes for someone in costume for another photo when on the far right chute I saw a lady in a black and white dress with a similar pattern to mine. I said out loud that “after all day not seeing anyone dressed like me, there you are”. We shared a photo and then I received the finisher’s kit of a bag (shaped like a record), a cup with a holder [I said to Samantha that originally I thought the cup holder was a dog lead]. There was plenty of food and drink available for runners at the finish.
We obviously didn’t receive enough rain during the run as it rained twice after the race, once while I was in the shower and again walking back to the bus.
The next day was a recovery walk of approximately 10km starting and finishing at Chateau Livran. We all received a tres bien tasting cup for the walk. Multiple chateaux held wine tasting along the way. Back at Chateau Livran Samantha and myself sat with Terri and Lauren and another 1000 people for a fantastic 3 course lunch and live entertainment with singers and dancers. Amanda was spotted bopping away to the music at the back of the tent, glass of vin rouge in hand. A few of the Travelling Fit group ventured onto the dance floor, grooving to a cover version of Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster” and the like.
The bus ride back to Bordeaux was highly entertaining with the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” from Guernsey leading the way with renditions of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Fat Bottomed Girls” and other songs of the era including “Wonderwall” (and other songs that turned the air blue). The men from Guernsey were joined by Amanda, Gayle & Cameron, Julie (complete with a haka attempt) and the Gaffeys (Benjamin and Jay).
This was the best atmosphere I have ever experienced during a marathon. Regardless of the elapsed time I really enjoyed the course especially a few early hills. The theme, location, participants and spectators combined to make this event a “must-do” for either first-time marathoners or once in a lifetime (with apologies to the Talking Heads) marathon runners as well as experienced marathon runners.
Thanks to the following: Samantha Kellner, Emma Brown for suggesting the event as discussed during the Sydney Marathon of 2014, Celine from the Campbelltown Joggers for the initial costume ideas, the Travelling Fit group for a great time and finally our leader Lee Peacock and Shaylee Angell, the travel agents from Travelling Fit.
Marathon Du Medoc: The Worlds Booziest MarathonMy last night in Paris; I anxiously packed all my bags & jumped into bed. I had been travelling solo for 5 days now & being my first time travelling overseas it had been such a thrill ...
My last night in Paris; I anxiously packed all my bags & jumped into bed. I had been travelling solo for 5 days now & being my first time travelling overseas it had been such a thrill navigating my way through foreign countries some 17,000kms from home, yet an even bigger challenge lay ahead… I was about to run my very first full marathon the Marathon Du Medoc.
The alarm went off the next morning I sprung out of bed, got dressed, swung my 30kg pack on my back (yes rookie mistake packed way too much) & hiked it to the Gare Du Norde train station to catch the Euro Star to Bordeaux. The Eurostar was comfortable & super fast… I gazed out the window in wonder watching the changing landscapes & architecture as we sped closer to the south of France. I arrived at Bordeaux station 3 hours later & utilising some dodgy French managed to hail a cab & arrive safely at the gorgeous Hotel Continental. I checked in, met my room mate Bronwyn who was also running the Marathon Du Medoc & inspected the room. Stepping out onto the balcony to take in the view I immediately fell in love with Bordeaux, what a beautifully charming city. The elegant Hotel Continental is a 18th-century townhouse set in Bordeaux’s Golden Triangle just a short stroll from Opéra National de Bordeaux & Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux. It was a very welcomed change from the backpacker style accommodation I had become accustomed to.
Both exhausted from our travels Bronwyn & I had a quick “power nap” before heading out to meet the rest of the Travelling Fit crew for a marathon eve “Pasta Party”. In true French style the drinking starts the night before the race, at various “Pasta Parties” hosted through out Bordeaux. We joined the Travelling Fit crew for dinner by the river & fuelled our bodies with French pizza, pasta & copious amounts of magnificent red wine. A late night with an exuberant amount of wine is not the usual plan on race eve, but, when in France ??
To run any marathon for the first time is a great life experience in itself but the Marathon Du Medoc with its 42.2 km course through some of the world’s most famous vineyards including the infamous Château Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux France, made this a truly unforgettable experience. Not to mention it’s the craziest marathon on earth! Rather than the usual water stops, there are over 23 wine stations hosted by different châteaus and there is even compulsory fancy dress! That’s right a marathon that requires you to wear fancy dress (It’s Medoc law) drink copious amount of wine en route while tasting French delicacies including steak, croissants, oysters & ice cream! I almost couldn’t sleep I was so excited! I lay my race kit out, tiara, sparkles & all & finally jumped into bed sometime after 1.30am.
The morning of the race we got into to Pauillac around 8.30am making our way to the race line for a 9.30am start. Standing at the start zone with the Traveling Fit crew the atmosphere was unlike any other event I had ever experienced with over 8,000 people all of who were in fancy dress (The theme this year was dress to the nines) including a great number of men dressed in fishnets, ha! I heard a mixture of French, German, Japanese & American accents flowing around me but no matter what language you spoke everyone shared the same universal silly grin.
As I sit down & recall the event I am finding it hard to put in all in words because the experience of my trip & running my first marathon feels so surreal. The range of emotions that I experienced was so deep & vast however, I will try my best but be warned it’s going to be a long one… Here I was, in Bordeaux, France, on the other side of the world lining up to run my very first marathon. I had never run a full marathon distance before, 35kms had been my longest run. I don’t know if it was the jet lag, my slight hang over or just the fact that I was so absorbed in the energy & craziness of the crowd, I some how forgot the massive task ahead of me feeling pure energy & excitement as I watched people around me laughing, cheering & singing.
The entertainment at the start line was mesmorising, a giant silver ball suspended over the start line dangling acrobats on aerial silks twirling above the crowd to the tunes of Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good” which crooned through the massive sound system, a MC then came on speaking French, I couldn’t fully understand what he was saying however recognising some numbers “trios, deux, un” & as quickly as I made the connection that it was a count down a large horn sounded & we were off.
The start was slow going & a little congested for the first couple of km’s but that was ok, this Marathon isn’t about getting a good time – it’s about having a good time & I wanted the “full Medoc experience” The official cut off time is 6 hours 30 (if you don’t make the cut off you don’t get a medal, eekk!), having been informed by Medoc Veterans since arriving: “The ideal finish time for those who are serious about the event is 6:29:59! No sooner” (You have A LOT of wine to drink after all)
We ran through the gorgeous vineyards of Bordeaux arriving at the breakfast stop around the 2k mark where tables of mini croissants, waffles, chocolate pastries & fruit awaited us. I had originally planned to use my gels (because that is what I had trained with) but, in the spirit of the Marathon Du Medoc “The Wine Marathon” I threw them away embracing the whole uniquely crazy experience by grabbing a mini croissant a bite of a waffle & ran on. Oh my those waffles were something special!
Another 5 minutes in I came across the first ‘official degustation’ at the Chateau-Lafite Rothschild (we had already stopped at an “unofficial wine stop” perviously, so the “23 stops” actually ends up being around 30 by the end of the marathon with all the unofficial stops included) The Chateau-Lafite Rothschild was the Chateau I was looking forward to the most! I took my glass of wine gave it a swirl, positioned it under my nose, closed my eyes took a deep breath inhaling the aromas, picking up notes of coffee, spice & cedar then holding my glass up to the light marvelled at the beautiful deep ruby / purplish colour. I watched the other runner’s downing their wine, some devouring two glasses before speeding off, nervously I followed suit, took a swig savouring the silky smooth elegance of what I guessed to be a Cab.Sauvignon blend & before the wine had even had time to hit my belly I was on the road again, funnily enough the band kicked into the last chorus of “back on the road again” as I took off, smiling at the serendipity of the moment I joined in on the chorus singing as I ran on.
In all my nervous haste I hadn’t noted the name of the wine I tasted, NO!!!!! oh well, it would remain a tantalising mystery to which the name does not really matter, as in the words of Maréchal de Richelieu “I have discovered the wine of Château Lafite to be a delicious, generous cordial, comparable to the ambrosia of the Gods of Olympus” (1755)
I arrived at the 5km marker feeling good, knocked back another wine & ran on. The wine stations came thick and fast for the first 10kms, it was really quite a surreal experience drinking wine whilst running, what was technically, a marathon. Then all of the sudden… it hit me! I needed to pee, but wait. I hadn’t seen any toilets yet! Oh no! What if there are no toilets??? How can they have no toilets!!?? I looked around in a panic scanning the rolling hills & vineyards for a portaloo & then it dawned on me…. Ohhhhhhh thats why everyone is sneaking off into the vineyards. Just as I was about to admit defeat & go “al a natural” I found a port a loo, Phew. I jumped in the cue but the line was so LOOOOONG, I would find out later on that it was indeed the ONLY solitary toilet on the whole course. I waited in line for 15 minutes & thought to myself I was missing out on valuable wine tasting time & worried about the cut off time, so aborted the line up & snuck off into the fields (but shhh let’s just keep this our little secret)
Feeling relived & a little amused I ran back on course having a little giggle to myself, realising I was a tad drunk by the time the rain hit & it was coming down hard! The temperature was around 25 C, the humidity was thick & I was drenched in sweat, I welcomed the rain as it brought with it cooler temps & washed away the caked on salt. My smile turned into a slight frown of concern as I pondered the fact that this was a marathon & I still had a heck of a long way to go! My soaking wet shoes squelching as I ran through the windy gravel path over the cobble stones, through mini creek crossings & washed out roads. My ankles were feeling quite tender as I had only ever ran “road races” & trained on road or flat gravel, my body wasn’t accustomed to the uneven terrain.
Around the half way mark the wine was sloshing around my tummy making me feel a little queazy, this was the the long stretch of road in the middle of the course with no wine stops. Medic vans scream by us on the way to rescue runners who were not fairing so well. I was luckily enough to have Erin, a girl from the Travelling Fit crew running beside me at this point & some friendly banter helped me shake off the queasiness, coming good just in time as we entered into the second half which greeted us with more châteaus, delicious red wine & entertainment! The rain was still coming down hard so we decided to grab some shelter at the next Chateau, spotting another member of the Travelling Fit crew with the same idea, we joined her chatting excitedly about our adventures while taking in the atmosphere, watching the band & enjoying a couple extra cheeky reds. After a
After the sky’s cleared the colours of the landscape seemed even more vibrant than before, the sunlight danced off the glistening green leaves & deep purple velvety grapes. Running through these gorgeous vineyards & enchanting little medieval villages gave me the sense of being suddenly transported into a romantic French impressionist painting or the pages of a eloquent old world, Wordsworth poem. It was just one of those moments you know will stay etched in your memory for ever. I took in a deep breath absorbing this glorious moment feeling utterly blessed! The romance of that moment was abruptly interrupted as we ran up behind a guy running in a g-string. My attention then fell to his almost mesmerizing hairy but cheeks bouncing up & down, all I could think was gosh that is going to be some uncomfortable chafing. We overlook the cheeky french man with a smile & ran on.
More stops followed, at km 18 and 20. I started drinking water with my wine but was also mindful of the lack of toilets on the course! As we came up to km 30 fatigue began to creep in as the gravity of running a marathon fuelled by wine & cheese hit me, by the time I’d ‘hit the wall’, I was nursing a hangover, suffering a severe carbohydrate deficit & fending off dehydration. My quads & glutes felt like a tightly stretched rope that was about the snap at any minute.
But with a band playing at every turn, the great support & huge smiles from the crowds, high fives & sassy comments from fellow runners, the gorgeous scenery including enchanting chateaus that looked like castles from a fairy-tale book I easily found that little bit extra inspiration I needed to carry on. “Just one foot in front of the other, keep going, don’t stop, can you believe it… your running in France, this is amazing! you can do it!” I chanted to myself.
I hit the 36km mark & threw my arms up in celebration, well, in reality it was actually more like a limp flailing of the arms… This was new distance PB! After struggling up a huge hill shortly after Erin & I managed to get into a decent rhythm for the last couple of kms, crossing the finish line together in 6:29:16. Couldn’t have timed it better! We were presented with a medal in the shape of a bow tie… cute!, a splendid commemorative satchel, a souvenir bottle of wine & piece de resistance… a wine cup with a holder that goes around your neck (that one has come in very handy!)
I made it!! It’s impressive to survive running a marathon whilst sampling wines from some 23 chateaus plus the “unofficial wine stops” but to have been able to experience all that & still have made the cut off time, was an amazing feeling! This was my first marathon & it was perfectly on time, Marathon Du Medoc time that is! The veterans would be so proud!
It had been a long day, I could no longer feel my legs & was unsure if they would ever work properly again & yet, undeniably, I’ve managed to have one of the most bizarre & brilliant experiences of my life on this this glorious day of Sunday 12th, of September, 2015, in Bordeaux France. The day I became a marathoner.
So for my first ever marathon, I broke all the rules… Stay hydrated, nothing new on race day, avoid alcohol, get a good nights sleep, eat a balanced breakfast & make sure you’ve trained in your race kit. Pretty simple right? Not when you are running the worlds craziest marathon! And to be honest I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It was then back on the bus to celebrate, with you guessed it, more wine! We had a glorious night out in charming Bordeaux; sharing food, wine, stories & laughs. We must have been running on pure excitement because to my surprise we didn’t get to bed till 2am that morning, what a day!
Renne has a great running blog. Please check it out at Running with Renee
Marathon du Medoc Race ReviewMost marathons I have completed I can’t wait to finish. Usually my pre-race plan has gone out the window and I’m hanging on trying to save some dignity for the finish. However the Marathon du ...
Most marathons I have completed I can’t wait to finish. Usually my pre-race plan has gone out the window and I’m hanging on trying to save some dignity for the finish. However the Marathon du Medoc, held in Paulliac, one hour north of Bordeaux, France, is not a normal marathon and is more like a wine tasting costume carnival that I wanted to go on forever. The international run has been held in early September for the past twenty nine years and the costumes have a theme each year, with the 2013 theme being ‘science fiction.’ I have had a previous flirtation with the event in 2010 when the theme was ‘Superheroes’ and I had made it to Paris with my un-original Superman outfit. After having paid the entry fee and accommodation in Bordeaux I had to return to Australia for a funeral after my 93 year old father had peacefully passed away. Consequently I felt the Medoc was unfinished business and by good fortune 2013 was my time.
Most days of our lives usually pass uneventfully, with one day being pretty much like the other and we hope to move through life peacefully and enjoyably, if possible. But there are rare days when you don’t want them to end and you feel as though you are experiencing life with such intensity you need time to process what you have been through. I have run the Comrades 89k ‘Marathon’ in South Africa twice along with the Two Oceans 56k ‘Marathon’ and put the Marathon du Medoc right up there with them. As I am a runner I’m purposely ignoring all the other amazing experiences life throws up and expect that other runners reading this will agree that we share an activity that releases us from the banality of everyday life.
The day begins in Bordeaux by rising at 5.30am for a 6.30am transfer bus to Paulliac, with the sun rising as busloads of costumed runners excitedly try and imagine the day ahead. Although the run begins at 9.30am and our bus arrived at Paulliac around 7.45am, the time flew until lining up with the other runners at 9am. Everyone is checking out everyone else’s costume, with approximately eighty percent of the field of eight thousand dressed for a party rather than a marathon. Although the theme for 2013 was science fiction, with plenty of Star Wars, Star Trek, Green Men (and Women), Avatars and just general Aliens, such as myself, there were a number of French Maids (Japanese men in particular), Superheroes (left over from 2010?), Village People Construction Workers and Pirates. Some of the Green Men were wheeling flying saucers, Trekkies were wheeling the Starship Enterprise and the pirates had their own ship.
The start area was buzzing with anticipation. Runners looking anything but were packed along a street front and being entertained by acrobats swirling about above our heads on trapezes that were attached to large balloons. The announcer was revving up the crowd with chants that I couldn’t understand (it was in French, after all) and people would spontaneously burst into songs followed by applause.
That half hour will go down as the best pre-race buzz I’ve ever experienced. Everyone is taking photos of each other, pointing to something/someone whose costume they think is amazing and wearing the biggest smiles I have ever seen prior to an event.
Once the run was underway I found it hard to imagine that my fellow runners in elaborate costumes and make-up intended running a full 42k marathon. One of the incentives to keep going was the anticipation of wine tasting when passing through the forty or so Chateaux throughout the figure eight course. The run took place through dirt roads beside vineyards, some bitumen, loose stone pathways leading into each Chateau and through small villages where the locals hung out of their windows and the kids lined up for high-fives. Bands were playing in most Chateaux as well as along the course and after the initial scramble for the first taste of wine for the day at the 2k mark, things settled down when we realised there was plenty of wine to go around. My wine tasting race plan was to swirl and spit, but after my first attempt at this strategy I was left with too strong a taste in my mouth. Consequently I began a series of one mouthful here two mouthfuls there until I was feeling quite relaxed by the half-way mark. Some Chateaux proved very popular, with Flash Gordons and Aliens jostling for a taste at Chateau Lafite Rothschild (26k mark).
There was a lake at one Chateau after half-way and some runners had peeled off their costumes for a quick swim. Speaking of peeling off costumes, I noticed people struggling to de-robe from more elaborate outfits to irrigate the vineyards – toilets only being available when you reached a Chateau. The highlight for me among many was the last 4k of the course, which was a long straight stretch to the finish beside an estuary. Runners were treated to freshly shucked oysters, champagne, entrecote cut into small pieces and cognac (I can’t believe I missed the cognac stand – just what you need at the 40k mark of a marathon). Approaching the finish everyone received a stick of ice cream after checking their costumes in a strategically placed mirror in the middle of the road. I made sure my finishing photos included me sucking on my iceblock, as that image summarised what was the theme of the day – running for enjoyment. All finishers under 6 hours 30 mins received a medal and a bottle of red wine in a commemorative wooden case. However everyone who ran that day took away memories of an amazing experience that will last far longer than wine and trinkets.
Thanks to Travelling Fit for making it easy to participate in such a great event – a race bag was waiting at the hotel TF had selected in Bordeaux when I checked in as well as transport to and from Paulliac on race day – along with registration, of course.
The Marathon du Medoc is not just an ordinary Marathon for many reasons. Set in the stunning Bordeaux region of France it meanders through ancient villages, vibrant vineyards and along gravel tracks.
Each year the event has a theme and in 2018 it is ‘Amusement Park’ so expect to see Disney characters, Avengers to Carnival Clowns competing!
Almost all participants wear fancy dress, the aid stations allow for wine and cheese tasting as well as the more customary forms of Marathon fare and most of the prizes are in Wine.
Put simply, this is one of the world’s great parties with a Marathon thrown in for good measure.
Travelling Fit is delighted to offer you a 4 Day/3 Night and 6 Day/5 Night Marathon Package and as an accredited travel agency we provide a full range of services to our clients. This enables us to book your flights and additional touring to help us assist you in creating your perfect holiday experience.
- 4 DAY / 3 NIGHT PACKAGE
- Guaranteed Race Entry (runners only)
- 3 Nights Accommodation
Check in: Fri 07 Sep / Check out: Mon 10 Sep 2018
- Continental Breakfast daily including early breakfast on race day
- Return private coach transfers on race day (Sat)
Exclusive to Travelling Fit clients
- Sunday Walk & Lunch through the Medoc Vineyards including private return transfers
- Travelling Fit Experts located at Le Normandie hotel to answer any questions
Exclusive to Travelling Fit clients
- Supporters will be looked after on race day to cheer on the runners
Exclusive to Travelling Fit supporters
- Personalised Travelling Fit Running Top
Exclusive to Travelling Fit clients
- Invitation to Travelling Fit Marathon du Medoc Closed Facebook Group
Exclusive to Travelling Fit runners
- Service Charges & taxes
- 6 DAY / 5 NIGHT PACKAGE ALSO INCLUDES:
- 5 Nights Accommodation
Check in: Wed 05 Sep / Check out: Mon 10 Sep 2018
- Day Tour to Arcachon including Lunch: Oysters, Prawns, Pate and wine (Thu)
Exclusive to Travelling Fit clients
- Group warm up run by the river (Fri)
Exclusive to Travelling Fit clients
Deposit (With Preliminary Deposit): $400 per runner and $400 per Supporter
Deposit (Without Preliminary Deposit): $700 per Runner and $400 per Supporter
Balance Due: 08 June 2018