A few weeks ago I was invited to run a Marathon.
Not just any old marathon.
The Marathon du Medoc. Think music, think fancy dress, and most importantly, think 22 wine stops over the 26 miles. Brilliant! Think a little less about it being 6 days away. Eek!
I’d done no training, other than BMF a few times a week (unsurprisingly – I’d had no intention of running a marathon this year, if ever). Before confirming my decision to politely decline the offer, I mentioned it to Mum to get a second opinion. Surprisingly, her reaction was, “Do it! I wouldn’t have run it 3 times if it wasn’t my favourite marathon – you can’t miss this opportunity, you’ll be fine – GO FOR IT”
Thanks Mum. Very wise words.
I committed and booked, before googling, “running the Medoc Marathon without training.” There was nothing giving me the answers / false hope I wanted to hear (all I wanted was ONE person to have written “Even without training you’ll be fine and you’ll love it.”) so here it is, from me to you: even without training you’ll be fine and you’ll love it.
Why? Because it’s just soooo much fun!
We kicked things off on the Friday night with beers where I was introduced to a handful of the 200+ strong group I was running with. Nothing like a solid 5 hours drunken sleep to prepare you for a marathon.
The next morning, from the moment we stepped off our coach, the place was buzzing. Everyone was in fancy dress and there was cacophony of beats from speakers all around. The start line had yet more music, acrobats and confetti. All VERY exciting.
We passed under the start line and swooping acrobats and set off on our way. Despite having started the morning in a big group, we’d all got split up so I was with my new buddy, and previous night’s roomie, Fi – we were well-matched for pace so stuck together pretty much the whole way which was great! For the first couple of kilometers we looped and jumped around people to try and find ourselves a bit of space, which was easier said than done as the roads were thick with jovial runners and walkers. The first wine station came about 2k into the race, but the queue for wine was mental too, first to get a plastic cup, then to get the wine, so we decided to sack it off and try and race ahead of the masses (don’t worry, definitely made up for this later on).
For the first 10k we were treated to glorious sunshine and stunning views. The atmosphere was so electric that I barely notice the running part. We were running at chatting pace and I was well-practiced on my talking. In fact the talking was my strong point and definitely the area I felt most confident in, coming into the race.
The wine stops soon began to come thick and fast, and with Fi not drinking early on in the race, I very kindly offered to help drink her wine for her at every station. Within a few stops I was doubling the doubles so the egg-cup sized portions soon became entire glasses and my enjoyment of the race seemed to increase correspondingly. We joined up with a load of the others from the group so had even more people to chatter away to.
At about 11 miles though, disaster struck.
We’d gone a full 20 minutes without wine.
My energy levels absolutely plummeted so I told the others to crack on while I retrieved a secret energy gel from my sock. I knocked that back and then realised I would probably be alone for the rest of the run. Devastating! I trudged along wishing I’d kept up, when all of a sudden my knights in shining armour appeared! Quite literally the fancy-dressed knights from our group were all gathered ahead, donning blindfolds for a blind kilometer. With my coat wrapped round her head, I grabbed Gemma’s hand and off we ran. She was so speedy even with an eyemask on! And I only crashed her into one person.
Back to normal running, we soon hit the half way mark – the longest distance I’d ever run! I’d planned to run the first half then enjoy walking the second, but we were back in wine-stop zones and my energy had returned. I was good to go – on we pushed at a gentle jog. Sometimes I got bored of running and walked for a bit, but that made it slow, so before long I’d be back to running again – with intermittent skipping (yeh i know, wild) to mix things up.
The entire course, as you’d expect, wound through vineyards and chateaux so you can probably imagine how stunning it was. I never tired of the beautiful scenery…until it started to rain. The rain was less ideal, if I’m honest, but dampened our clothes far more than our spirits.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. From about 20 miles onwards I had to mostly walk because I was seizing up and struggling. I just had to try and forget about the pain
…and there’s nothing quite like wine to help you forget things!
Oh, AND oysters. Oh my gosh I’ve genuinely never enjoyed oysters as much as mile 24 of the race when my body was crying out for salt! SO good!
Another highlight was when a French family decided to invite us into their garage (I say garage but it was very possibly their house, my memory was, by this point, a little hazy) and shoved their nuts in my mouth. Yeh, no seriously they fed me salty cashew nuts – funny old bunch out there.
I kept forgetting that we were in a race (because it’s not really a ‘race’) so got carried away dancing near the end to the point that the jokers caught up with me. The jokers have horrible clown horns that hoot away when they’re behind you. You have to cross the finish line before them to get a medal so together with the remaining members of our party we jogged just ahead of the jokers, bringing up the rear of the runners and crossed the finish line in virtually last place – making us the most efficient runners on the course. Medal + most time spent enjoying the course. Bonza.
Everything ached by the end, but nothing a cold shower couldn’t sort out and after that I was back on track for another big night out. Proof that you can run a marathon without training and still go dancing afterwards.
Thanks to everyone who helped in persuading me to sign up, and to everyone who nudged me around the 26 miles. I 100% made the right decision and I’m ready to sign up again!