Monday, October 27, 2014

Race Review: 30th Marathon du Medoc 2014

The fabled Medoc du Marathon, a very unique race that involves running a distance of 42.2km while drinking some of the region's best wines!

Wine and Marathon?  What a weird combination, and yet there I was on September 13th right at the Starting Line of the race with one simple goal:  to reach the finish line intact, never mind how high my alcohol blood content was!

Of course, it isn't as easy as it seemed as they even added a cut-off time of 6 hours and 30 minutes.  That would be fine in an ordinary Full Marathon but with one where you can be severely intoxicated, that time was a bit scary.

Reading some of the reviews from people who entered some of the earlier editions, there were stories of people who entered with a plan of not finishing the race.  They simply targeted the Chateau with the finest wine and set out to reach that place.  Once they got there, whether that was at 8km, 20km or 25km mark, they set out to get as drunk as possible with the unlimited red wine!  And just wait it out for the sweeper to get them and bring them to the finish line!  That was an interesting plan and something I thought of too.  Hehe!  This, after all, wasn't in any of my plans for the year but something I chanced upon when we have already booked our plane tickets to Europe via a promo fare.  This was also a good way to drink some very good French wine at rock bottom prices!

But then I saw the finisher loot bag and my, was I captivated by it:  One bottle of Chateau Margaux red wine in its specially made Marathon du Medoc wooden box, a very nice finisher medal, two glasses for drinking wine, and a souvenir bag.  It was too good to pass up on!

Plus the fact that I found out at the expo that I was the only Pinoy in this race!  How embarrassing would that be, the only Filipino who joined this marathon, and DNF-ed because he was too drunk to run!

No, I had to run this race and I had to finish it within the cut-off time.  I would just manage my drinking as that was one area I didn't practice in my long runs (the ONLY time I combined running and drinking was when I had two glasses of red wine in one long run where I just had 5km to go and I got so dizzy that I didn't even finish said distance, stopping at the 4km!).


Bus to Pauillac

We booked with a marathon affiliated travel agency (through the official Marathon website) so that it would be easier to get to the race.  This included transportation, race bib pick up and hotel accommodation.  Good thing I booked early as slots got sold out quickly!

The bus ride to Pauillac Region was a good one and a half hour from Bordeaux, where we stayed in.  The moment that we got off the bus, we already saw a lot of people in costumes.  This definitely wasn’t your ordinary Marathon race!

A lot of Japanese runners joined this race!  There were Samurais, Anime characters, Gaishas, and some ninjas!

some Prehistoric Running Cavemen
There's Waldo!  And there's another one! And another one....

wife enjoying the experience with me!

Such a festive event!  It was the Mardi Gras event for runners!  And people came in all sorts of costumes.  There were also large floats that 5-8 runners pushed while running as well.  Hands down to them!!

some Asians running with a dragon tagging along!

Philippines REPRESENT!

The atmosphere was pretty awesome and even my wife said that this was probably the most festive running event that she had ever witnessed.  She promised to wait for me here while I walked slowly to the starting line.  

There were some fireworks before the gun was fired.  And once it did, everyone started running.  
The course would take us through the vineyards of Pauillac as we would run into various Chateaus of this region.  There were no Gatorade served here.  No energy bars, No GU.  Rather they had water, crackers, chips and lots and lots of red wine!  

We hit the first wine station at 5km mark and people were lining up to get their first taste from it.  I remembered how I felt when I had wine in Manila and skipped it.  Out of a possible 24 plus different wine stations, I chose 4 only from the list based on popularity and decided to just hit these places.  That meant drinking wine at 8km, 15km, 20km and around 30km again.

I would also have two glasses of water right after the wine to ward off the alcohol!  Haha.  And eat some crackers or chips too.  

Well, not everything goes according to plan as by the halfway mark, I had four glasses of wine, two from just one station as it was the most popular!  That didn’t give me a good effect and I walked a bit before I ran again.

By this time, it was getting harder to run as the noon day heat was horrible.  There were no shaded areas and I had to look at where I was running on as it was on the rocky vineyards AKA Trail Run!  But it was pathetic if I would quit or stop going as people with large costumes and even huge floats kept going.  It was humbling to see how strong they were when I was having a hard time and I wasn’t even wearing any heavy costume!

At 35km mark, the water had ran out.  But don’t worry, they had wine!  Lots and lots of wine!  Uh Oh!   

I skipped that station hoping there was water in the next one.  There wasn’t!

So it was either – get dehydrated or get dehydrated with wine!  I chose the latter and gulped it all down.  With no water to wash it down, I hoped I could be sober enough to get to the finish line in one piece.  
This repeated again in the next succeeding stations.  And I drank again.  But there were some crackers to counter the alcohol (at least I hope they could do the job!).  At one point, they were serving fresh oysters and I had to take one too!  Mmmmm, very delicious!  But scary for my tummy!

Per, at the finish line, was getting worried too as to why I haven’t finished yet.  She started praying a lot that God would keep me safe and that I would get to the finish line in time!

While she was waiting, she took pictures of other runners crossing the finish line:

Captain America finishing!

And before long, GOD indeed answered her prayers and mine:

It was a big relief for both of us that I finished this race.  Being busy touring France before the race didn’t help me as my legs were tight from 3km onwards!  There were a lot of stairs that we climbed during the trip which had me running this race with tired legs.  I had to stretch a couple of times during this race.  But thank God I didn’t get any cramps here!

And thank God I finished before the cut-off time!

My chip time was at 6:00:57!  I didn't make it to a sub-6 finish time as I was too tired to do so! But who cares?  Haha

The extra one kilometer in this race was frustrating as well (made me think if all marathon distances are 43.2km!).

But GOD kept me safe and after asking Per to buy me two cans of coke, I got some of my energy back!  I was too tired to explore the finisher's area and we walked slowly to the bus to wait for the other runners. 

I am quite happy with finishing this race and getting the best loot ever from this race.  Very memorable and something I would recommend every runner to do and experience.

Thank You Lord!

PS. At the 6:30 cut-off time, the organizers announced that they would extend the cut-off time to 7 hours, the second time they have done so in this race's 30 years history due to the very hot weather. 

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