in fancy dress, France, marathon, Medoc, running, social innovation, travel

The Longest Marathon in the World

Runners gearing up for the 27th Marathon Du Medoc

“Man does not live on social innovation alone.” With this in mind, I travelled with Sarah to the Medoc region of France last week for a short break last week with Sarah’s Mum and Dad.

The main focus of our trip was the 27th Marathon du Medoc on Sunday, which Sarah’s Dad was running for the eighth time. Originally, Sarah had planned to run the marathon too but unfortunately a lingering knee injury meant she joined me in the the spectators/hangers on camp.

Besides the marathon itself, perhaps the best part of the trip was getting to stay with two lovely French families, who Sarah’s Mum and Dad have been staying with, on and off, for the past eight years. It’s a cliche, but by spending time with the families I felt I got a better appreciation of what Medoc life is really like. And of course I just about coped with all the lovely home-cooked food and Medoc wines we were kindly served by our hosts.

Dominic Strauss-Kahn runs away from his recent troubles

The Marathon Du Medoc was a fantastic experience. Billed as ‘the longest marathon in the world’ because of the opportunities  to sample en route the food and drink of the Medoc region, runners start out in the town of Paulliac before going on a magical mystery tour of the surrounding chateauxs and vineyeards, including the world famous Chateaux Lafite Rothschild.

JC puts in a respectable, but not great, performance at Medoc

Attending the marathon, what  you most is a sense of fun. Fancy dress is compulsory. But unlike in the UK, where stag and hen parties seem to have given fancy dress a bad name, the runners at Medoc seemed to have embraced a genuinely eccentric spirit. Furthermore, how can you not admire  a serious running event where participants are actively encouraged to sample oysters, steak, wine and ice cream as they try to run 26 miles in 30+ degree heat?

Sarah’s Dad looking surprisingly fresh for someone who’s just run 26 miles

I’m pleased to say that Sarah’s Dad managed to complete the marathon, despite (or should that be thanks to?) having his fair share of Medoc produce. He clocked in at around 5 hours and 20 minutes. Not bad for a man of 63. And while I can’t say his achievement has inspired me to sign up for next year’s marathon, it has already encouraged me to get out running in Forest Hill once this week.

It would be cool to hear from anyone else who found themselves at the marathon this year.  What did you make of it all? Do you think a Marathon like Medoc could work in the UK or is this  strictly a French fancy?

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