Photo of the Week – A Marathon in Vienna

A few years ago, I went to Vienna as part of a series of offices visits for a client. Vienna meetings were conveniently scheduled for a Friday so the weekend could be enjoyed in the former Imperial capital.

As the Peachtree Road Race approaches in my hometown, a race I ran for 10 yrs before deciding the 1 mile walk from home to be a spectator was more fun, I think of the happy coincidence: it was the weekend of the Vienna Marathon. I have such luck sometimes. The same happened when I visited Florence.

Marathons, or any road race for that matter, offer great opportunities for photos of the human effort. However, one of my favorite pictures captures one of the most important spots along a marathon route: the water stops… This is the aftermath after one such stop…

Runners and paper cups on the Vienna marathon

(Photo taken with Canon EOS Rebel)

Wine and Running DO Mix: The Festive Bordeaux Marathon in the Medoc, France

Bordeaux marathon (France)

No, this article is not about drinking lots of Bordeaux wine until you are exhausted from all the exercise of lifting the glass, pouring wine, lifting the glass again, uncorking another bottle, and pouring again.  Nor is it about visiting 26 chateaux in one day for wine tasting.  It is about the race that takes place in September in the Medoc area of Bordeaux (actually the name of the marathon is Marathon du Medoc, http://www.marathondumedoc.com/).  It is one of the funnest races I have been a part of – not only the wine but because runners come all dressed up and bring props too (be careful one of those props doesn’t run you over, I had a close call!).

Bordeaux marathon  (France)

Lady bugs ready to run

Wine barrel as a prop in the Bordeaux marathon (France)

The barrel is to push ALL the way during the marathon. Nuts!

The Bordeaux Marathon…

My friends (Chris and Wendy) and I thought of going after a larger group had spoken about going together, renting a house, and perhaps some of us running the marathon.  In the end, between one thing and another, the group whittled down to just the 3 of us.  We pretended to train for the marathon as we planned the trip…

My plan was not to run the entire marathon (while I have ran a half before, I really think the human body is not intended for the punishment of a marathon; marathon runners out there, I am not saying you are crazy, but I would be if I ran one!).  I figured I could train for about 6 or 7 miles and, on the day of, perhaps crank another 6 miles out of adrenaline gained by just being part of the event.  And I say event not race because this marathon is an event.

The festive atmosphere begins at the starting line with music blaring and a lot of staring – at the wild and crazy costumes (or sometimes, almost nothing on…) and props.  Then participants go through small towns in the Medoc, past chateaux, through chateaux, or even in between vines in a chateau (and I won’t tell you what I saw some runners do on those vines…  that je-ne-sais-quoi that makes Bordeaux wines SO unique…).

Chateau in the route of the Bordeaux marathon (Frnace)

Great views along the way

Oh, and did I mention that along the way, various chateaux are serving wine to the runners?  I don’t know how the finish line scene looks but after 26 miles of running-walking and sampling wines, I can only imagine.

Bordeaux marathon going through Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien

Going through Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien

As I said, I had planned to run part of the marathon but I was not planning to walk 13 miles to get to the end.  So, my friends and I scouted the route the day before with the route map to find what would be an easy-to-find spot for them to pick me up that fit within the range I planned to run.

Large wine bottle landmark in Bordeaux, France

Easy enough landmark to remember, you think?

In reality this turned out to be around mile 6 as for the next 10-15 miles, there did not seem to be a town that would be easy to get to with the road closures or a spot easy to find.  It so happened that my stopping point was one of the chateaux that was serving wine to runners… coincidence or miracle?  You be the judge…

Wine stop at a chateau during the Bordeaux marathon (France)

Wine stop!

Runners do get to pick up their race number, etc. the day before at the race fair event.  It is a good thing as it helped us figure out how to get to the starting line since we were not familiar with the region.  Even though we had done that, the day of the marathon itself we still had some challenges along the way and ended up following a bus that we identified outside of the city of Bordeaux as likely heading to the marathon!

I greatly enjoyed the run and those 6 miles passed so fast not because I am fast but because of the fun environment. I carried my small digital camera with me and enjoyed snapping pictures along the way.  People dress up for the event and some have props though watch out, one big thing on wheels got out of control on a downhill and almost ran a few of us over…

Going through Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien

Runners with their LARGE prop – runners beware: they are drinking and pushing!

Even if you are not a serious runner or not ready for the distance, I would encourage anyone to try it like I did and experience running and wine in a new way.  I do recommend to stay close to the Medoc (we were staying at the far end of the Bordeaux region which led to a too-early-for-humans wake up call).  If you are a serious runner, it is a fantastic run through beautiful land and sites but you may want to stay away from the wine stops 🙂

There was a good number of things we wished we had known about the marathon and the area before we got there.  Do you have any questions?  Maybe we can help?   We found it hard ahead of the trip to find good info in English, hence the offer…

This entry has received a lot of hits!  What information are you seeking about the Bordeaux marathon?  We’d love to hear from you!

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