Friday, September 11, 2009

Entertaining Friday: Running with the Grapes

Ever since my first reading of Peter Mayle's French Lessons, I have been totally fascinated with the Medoc Marathon in Bordeaux. This year, the race happens to be tomorrow. Thousands of runners from all over the world will gather in Bordeaux to run 26.2 miles through some of the world's most venerable grapevines, passing over 50 chateaux in all.

Stops along the way are a far cry from the water tents found on the sidelines of traditional marathons. At points along the course, runners can stop for cheese, sausage, oysters, and of course wine. Tonight, in preparation for the race, runners will carb-load, just like in America, but they'll also drink and dance. Somehow, they'll still get up to don their running shoes (and in some cases, costumes). And they will actually run.

In 2002, American writer Ben Cheever ran the race, and he wrote about the experience in Food & Wine. A traditional American runner - this wasn't his first marathon - it took him a few miles to adjust to the idea of drinking en route. When faced with a glass of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, he stopped worrying (who wouldn't?). Ultimately, Cheever finished the marathon in just over four and a half hours - and he had a great time.

Even on my very best day, I am not a runner. I envy those who are (like Jen and Alicia, who have each run more than one marathon). But even more than that, I envy those people who make it to the Medoc this weekend. Lafite Rothschild? There is a chance that even I might run a few miles for a wine like that.

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