Marathon du Medoc Race Report

Race day!  So here’s the thing about this particular marathon.  It’s not a race where one would try to get a personal best (one is obviously not taking the race seriously when running in a costume and carrying a camera).  The whole goal of this race was to have fun, drink wine, and try to finish before the ‘6:30 sweepers’.  With that in mind, J & I trained using the same Greg McMillan training program, but missed a total of 15 training runs in the 5 month period.  That’s not a lot of missed runs in the grand scheme of things, but consider this, missing ONE run while preparing for any of my regular races is unheard of.

We were picked up by a shuttle at 6:20 the morning of the race, and got there in about an hour.  The race didn’t start until 9:30AM, which meant a lot of time hanging around checking out the ‘sights’.

This year’s costume theme is ‘History’. A lot of people went way back to the pre-historic times.

Another common costume is the the Roman Grecian 1/2 toga (myself included). The idea is less (fabric) is more. Running 1/2 naked was probably best, as race day temp was projected to be in the 80-90s.

The start.  Lots of Japanese runners.

Longer length costumes, but still loose enough.

People seeking out other costume wearers for photo-op.

Not sure how fairies fit into the whole ‘History’ theme, but cute.

Kilts and viking horns.

Half naked bunnies and a carrot?!?  “Hey…what’s up Doc?”

So these are the ‘6:30 sweepers’. You don’t want to end up finishing after them. They’re practically walking the distance at 15 min/mile.

Some acrobatic performance at the start.

Obviously not all heeded the temperature warning. Long wool pants, with a dress shirt and a vest.  Nice touch with the pipe.

OK, so I had planned to start off at a slow pace of 9-9:30 min/mile in the beginning and run a negative split.  Oh, but that was totally out of the question.  J&I had positioned ourselves towards the back of the pack due to a last minute bathroom break (and also psychologically, I like to ‘pick off’ runners throughout the race as opposed to being ‘picked off’), so we started 9 minutes after the actual start.  Being in the back of the pack means you’re trotting at 14-15 min/mile.  There was no way to speed up whatsoever.

Before we knew it, the first wine stop…

Crowds at the first wine stop at under a mile. We all came to a dead stop.  Yes, this is about when J started drinking.

Pirates walking through the station with their ‘captured alligator’. Now do you get how serious this race is?

This is a European race, and of course distance is measured in kms instead of miles.  Since each km is shorter than a mile, you have twice the ‘hydration’ stations (about every 1/2 mile), which made the run seem to go by faster.

At the first or second wine stop: ‘39.395 km left!’ How encouraging!

Prehistoric monkey…

Prehistoric punks…

Roman soldier with a prehistoric Britney Spears.

Captain America!

Vineyards along the race.

Right about the 3rd to 4th mile, still running at around 12-13 min/mile, we realized that the water stops were getting mobbed, and we couldn’t get our hands on any water.  That’s when we decided to break away and pick up the pace, more for survival than anything else.

Don’t understand the penguin costumes, but great photo op. Our first chateau in the background.

Second chateau.

These have got to be HOT! Great costume though.

Slowly shaking off the crowd and able to get pictures of wine stations.  Volunteers were awesome, and spectators enthusiastic (how can you not be, watching all the fools running in costumes).  Most wines were served in plastic cups, but there were a few chateaux that actually served it in wine glasses.

Stacked wine crates.


It’s carrot top again.

Chateau by the lake.

Not only are people dragging carts, they’re pushing big carts.

Can’t miss the Las Colas. All you hear when running along side them are, ‘Allez Las Colas’ and ‘A-tten-tion’.

I think these guys run it every year.

Entertainment along the way.

Grapes on vines.

About 1/3 way in to the race, I started drinking a little.  A sip here, a sip there; but I was really waiting for this at the 25-26 km point.

Lafite Rothschild.  Here, I had my own glass.  We stuck around for a while just sipping the wine and enjoying the shade.  Which would explain the 14 min/mile pace for this particular leg.  Some runners were really taking it easy, resting on the ground as if the marathon were just an afterthought.

More chateaux.

We were averaging about 10-11 min/mile pace for the most part.  Barreling down hills, and walking up to conserve energy.

Nourishment. No other marathon offers the variety of food that this marathon did.  J tried everything he saw.

My favorite were the orange slices.

And of course, lots and lots of wine.

Race? What race?

It took me forever to figure out what this costume was. At first glance, I thought he was running with a pizza box in his head, but upon further examination (check out the drawings on his T-shirt), he’s actually a ‘column’. Quite ingenious.

Ooh la la!

This chateau was guarded by a ferocious german shepherd. Poor dog was barking it’s head off as runners were just snapping photos of this mansion. The only thing separating us and the dog was the gate. I was actually right in front of it as I took the picture.  Thinking back, I should have taken a picture of the dog.

One more…

Maybe because of the slower pace, I never hit the ‘wall’, nor did I have any cramps like the ones I got when running Tucson and San Diego.  However, I did run the last 5 miles with a ‘hang over’.  I think it was the combination of the wine, the sun, and the heat.  I was done with the drinking about the time the headache started, which was unfortunate, because according to J, all the wines were excellent.

But the headache didn’t stop me from eating this around mile 22/23. The best oysters ever (haven’t had any oysters since I got sick eating them in Mexico 8-9 years ago).  Oysters paired with the only white wine along the course.

Steak! At first we ran past the station, but J yelled out, ‘There’s meat!’, and so we doubled back to get some (in what other race would you double back?).  I thought it was ham, so I passed on it, but later on J told me it was steak, and rare…my favorite! It was the headache. I wasn’t thinking clearly anymore.

Between the steak station and the finish line they were handing out chocolate popsicles.  Didn’t help the hang over, but it sure cooled me off a little.

Finally, the end of the race. J&I actually had tons of reserve left that we sprinted the last 1/2 mile to finish in under 5 hours (4 hours and 56 minutes to be exact).  Still managed to take a picture while sprinting

Every finisher’s prize was a bottle of wine.  “I did the Medoc…the longest marathon in the world.”  Quite honestly, I have to say that time just flew by while running this race because it was so much FUN (minus the hang over)!

You had a choice between a Graves

or a Haut-Medoc.

Our medal

The after race party was like no other. People were dancing (after running 26 miles) and gorging on food (cheese, cured meats, yogurt, fruits, beer, soda, chips) as if they hadn’t eaten enough along the course.

Here are some of the runners getting to the finish line.

Finally, the ‘6:30 sweepers’…

This year NYC marathon charged $235, and now they don’t even provide post-race baggage pick up; the Marathon du Medoc is a fraction of the price and puts NYC to shame in terms of experience.  All I have to say is that the French know how to organize an awesome marathon, and they certainly know how to have fun in life.

Thanks to all the volunteers and organizers.

This entry was posted in France, Marathon, Travel, Video, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Marathon du Medoc Race Report

  1. Turning positively green with jealousy reading this, I’ll definitely have to give this marathon a go next year!

  2. myblankeynme says:

    ummmmm i read through the whole thing hoping to see j’s costume too. where is it?

  3. Juin says:

    This is insanely awesome!! Are you going to try and do it every year??? How absolutely fantastically fun!! I wish I were a runner…

    • LY says:

      This is absolutely the best experience. Thinking about running it whenever we travel to Europe (already thinking about next year’s trip), but would like to have company (J’s not doing it any more) as it’s more fun that way.

  4. Dan says:

    This was an epic picture show. I never bring a camera with me to races but this looks like one where you MUST. You captured the zaniness and party atmosphere of the race extremely well and have definitely moved me one step closer to adding this race to my future plans.

  5. Martin Mills says:

    That was a great weekend. I was the taller carrot. I had made a papier-mâché hoplite helmet in readiness for the historical theme, but my brother-in-law phoned to say we were dressing as carrots. Eric would explain. He never did. I was finding remnants of orange paint on my body days later.
    With the temperatures on that day, I was pretty glad of my skimpy attire; and those bunnies went mad whenever they saw us!

    • LY says:

      You guys were hard to miss that day.
      It’s never too late to have your brother-in-law explain himself. I’d be curious what the reasoning was 🙂

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