The Sauternes marathon

Attempting a marathon is one of the things I want to do while in France. The region where we’ll be based has trail running events but not full marathons, at least not in June or July. Most marathons in southern France and northern Spain are run at cooler times of year. So I have had to look further afield and have now committed to travelling north-west to the Bordeaux area for the Sauternes marathon on 1 June.

The Sauternes marathon looks like a pleasant course. It includes castle grounds, vineyards, villages, and tree-lined rural roads. It looks flat.

When I mentioned the marathon in Sauternes to our friend Jens, he joked that they might provide their famous wine at the drinks stations. It turns out they do! Here’s a runner at a drinks station in last year’s race:

A runner pauses for refreshments during the Sauternes marathon

A runner takes refreshments during the Sauternes marathon

I have run enough to know that, for me at least, the last 10 km of a marathon is extremely difficult. Imagine how hard I would find it if I drank wine instead of water and sports drinks during the race. I’d never finish. I expect a chilled glass of the sweet Sauternes wine will be a pleasant indulgence some time after finishing, but not during it. Not for me, anyway. I was brought up a Presbyterian and that’s how I’ll run.

In 2008 I ran the Dunkeque marathon and I recall being surprised to find that the drinks stations offered a selection of food that I thought would have been appropriate on a cafe counter: thick slices of ginger cake (buttered, I think), a selection of fresh fruits (I recall bananas and oranges), and a large bowl of sugar cubes (no sign of coffee to drop the cubes into). This was all new to me: I had never eaten during a race. And I had never in my life eaten straight sugar. In my experience, most running events in NZ provide only drinks at the drinks stations, though finish lines sometimes present edible treats. The xterra trail runs in Wellington provide doughnuts and iced buns at the finish.

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