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Medoc Marathon: an oyster in one hand, wine glass in the other

Have you ever considered running a marathon? What about one where you get to eat oysters, foie gras and steak, plus taste up to 23 top wines along the route? If this sounds like your kind of fun, there’s only one place to do it – Bordeaux, of course.

Marathon du Medoc

Last weekend saw 11,500 runners take on the Marathon du Medoc in Pauillac, Bordeaux. The annual running event, which combines ‘wine, sports, fun and health’, saw eager participants dress in carnival-themed outfits and tuck into an array of gourmet food and fine wine, while completing the 42.2km (26.2m) course.

Runners – a record number on the race’s 30th anniversary – were greeted by fireworks and samba dancers at the start line and buoyed by local entertainment as they aimed to finish within the race’s generous 6.5-hour time limit.

But with stops at some of the region’s most famed chateaux and 23 different wines to taste, as well as the chance to sample delights including waffles, cheese, breads, sweets and even ice cream along the way, it was, as Decanter contributor Peter Richards MW put it, ‘gloriously chaotic, colourful and celebratory’.

Joining the crowds of die-hard marathon runners, thrill-seekers and a few who were no doubt lured by the promise of classed-growth claret, was a host of familiar names from the wine trade.

Richards and his wife, Susie Barrie MW, ran alongside Handford Wines’ Greg Sherwood MW, Bibendum’s Andrew Shaw, Viña Errazuriz’s owner Eduardo Chadwick (all part of ‘Team Cox’) and a 12-strong team from Berry Bros. & Rudd.

Team Berry Bros & Rudd

So how did the group of seasoned wine pros handle the blistering 30°C heat and seemingly endless treats tempting them en route?

‘Best part? Unquestionably the ice cream at kilometre 41,’ said Richards. ‘A nice glass of Lafite’ also lifted the spirits.’

Berry Bros. & Rudd’s managing director, Hugh Sturges, highlighted ‘oysters and Graves at 36km’.

The race also held charitable significance. ‘Team Cox’ ran in commemoration of Michael Cox, the former Europe director of Wines of Chile who lost his battle to cancer earlier this year. The team has raised more than £16,000 to date for the two charities Cox supported: The Benevolent and The Vintners’ Foundation.

Michael’s brother, David Cox, CEO of The Benevolent, said: ‘Michael would have been immensely proud of the sheer grit and determination that was demonstrated by all our runners.’

Berry Bros & Rudd raised almost £7,000 for Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity (SAND).

Runners who completed the course in under 6.5 hours were rewarded with goody bags containing a souvenir bottle of wine and engraved red wine glasses – and possibly a little indigestion, too. There was also a recovery walk the next day, for those who could manage it.

Sturges encouraged anyone who is up for a few months of training to give the race a go. But, with organisers having to turn down 40,000 entrants this year, just getting to the start line is an effort in itself.


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