re-sized Medoc-marathon-001

One of the most extreme marathons in the world? What do you think…

Since we’re on the subject of marathons  – I just HAD to bring this one to your attention and perhaps you would be kind enough to let me know whether you would judge it as one of the most FUN marathons in the world! Thank you to  MrBolsderiz for the great video – the fact that it is in French won’t worry you in the least – it’s the spirit of the marathon that you will want to see…

This is, of course, the  Marathon des Chateaux du Medoc or simply known as The Medoc.

It first started in 1984 and is always run in September before the harvest. It almost immediately assumed the reputation of the most convivial marathon of them all.

The race is strictly limited to 8,500, so if you would like to take part in the next one it’s on Saturday, 11th September, 2010 – and you’d best get your skates on…

Out of that 8,500, 90% of the runners are in flamboyant fancy dress… costumes are positively encouraged.

Medoc marathon

Now here’s the best bit: The course passes many of the greatest chateaux in Bordeaux, where participants are expected to drink wine instead of water and foie gras instead of bananas. It winds through the vineyards connected by narrow roads, gravel paths and infrequent but bothersome patches of sand. The changing terrain is a challenge even for the experienced runner.

It begins in Pauillac in the Médoc area of Bordeaux, passes the hamlets of Saint Julien and Saint Estephe, past the vineyards of Lafite Rothschild and Château Latour, to name but a few. It is a must for all wine enthusiasts and runners. It is, without doubt, the most Bacchanalian event in the charity sporting calendar.

More than 30 chateaux open their gates to this seething mass of humanity, and local producers lay on tables of ‘degustation’ offering everything from foie gras and escargot to artisan cheeses. The result is a carnival-like celebration with runners and spectators enjoying the best the region has to offer as the route winds, increasingly drunkenly, through the beautiful Bordeaux vineyards.

You can only run a marathon like this in France.

It is the sort of marathon that would have tickled Pheidippides’ fancy. Pheidippides, that ancient Greek whom marathons honour – he first ran 240 km (150 miles) in two days when he was sent to Sparta to request help after the Persians had landed at Marathon, Greece. He then ran the 40 km (25 miles) from the battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon…. and hence the term ‘marathons’. Pheidippides, sad to say, just had time to utter the word “Nenikékamen” (we have won) before he died of exhaustion.

It was because of this story, and because of a poem written about Pheidippides by Robert Browning in 1879, that inspired Baron Pierre de Coubertin and other founders of the modern Olympic Games to invent a running race of 42 km called the Marathon.

And thus is history made…

Back to practicalities, if you wish to subscribe for the  2010 race, send for your registration forms  at

Registration is open now for runners through to November. The deadline may be a bit more flexible for runners from outside of France, but don’t rely on that ‘maybe’.


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