Marathon du Medoc in 500 words

One of many Avatars running the race

One of many Avatars running the race

When you’re on a come-down from an epic travel adventure, you sometimes agree to some mad things just to even out the balance between spontaneity and the responsibilities of real-life that have just hit you rather smartly in the face. It was in this manner that I agreed to run a marathon. It was February and I had until September to train, and that was as much consideration as I gave it.
Seven months later, we were standing at the start line, painted blue from head to toe with only some stick-on gems and well-positioned pashminas to keep us from indecency. There was a woman dressed in a gold PVC cat-suit rolling above us in the sky, dripping bubbles and hanging from a giant transparent balloon that was being towed by gentleman in top hats and tailcoats. To my right was a pair of thunderbirds and on my left, a Wookie. It is at times like these that you begin to wonder what on earth you have agreed to and if there is any possibility of escape. But it was too late. On masse, the crowd of science-fiction creatures spewed forth underneath the big blue arch in sprints and jolts before spreading out.
After only a few kilometres it all came to an abrupt standstill again, announcing the first wine-tasting chateaux stop. To those who have never heard of the Marathon du Medoc, let me introduce you to the madness that could only ever ensue in a French vineyard at summer’s close. It is proudly the longest marathon in the world and, as far as I am aware, the only fancy dress themed, vineyard marathon where amongst the usual offerings of water and banana slices, there are wines at each chateaux, and a smattering of other local delicacies to sample including steak, oysters and cheese. It is not your average marathon.
Even the pasta-party is rather atypical. Alongside the tagliatelli, red wine flows, or in this year’s case, green wine. By some mistake, we had bought tickets to the other of two pre-race dinner parties, and rather than getting the brass band and the chateau, we got the village hall edition. Actually, I think we probably won. The villagers who had offered their hall and their services wholeheartedly adopted the science fiction theme, donning nearly-transparent boiler suits, fluorescent wigs and matching underpants. The ladies chose silver catsuits with green mankinis sewn to the outside. A pair of overzealous Avatars had obviously been waiting since the film’s release to don their costumes and jump around growling.
At about the 30km mark we were ready for the finish-line (and also a porta loo sans queue), but the locals were out in force, and hearing your name shouted out really does spur you on. About a hundred high-fives and countless chateaux later, we were at the line, thoroughly exhausted. ‘You’d have to be mad to do that again!’ we exclaimed, but then we are, and we will.


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