As most of you may know, I ran my latest marathon in the Burgundy wine region of France. The Marathon Des Vins De La Côte Chalonnaise. Here is my review on the trip as a whole, as well as the challenge of the 26.2 mile route through the vin yards of France on the 30th of March 2019.
When I finished my previous marathon in Athens (in Nov 18) I knew that I had wanted to book in a marathon ASAP, but I had to think about the timing… You see, the spring marathon normally lands around my birthday month, which meant that partying would not be priority in comparison to my training. HOWEVER, this year I would be turning the big 3-0 and celebrations HAD to be had.
My sister had it in mind that we could all go on a running vacation around the time of my birthday, which sounded perfect; doing what I love most as well as enjoying my birthday celebrations… now the question was, which marathon to pick?
I (obviously) had to throw the idea of getting a PB out the window as I wanted to look for more of a ‘fun-run’ to do so that I could enjoy the whole experience. So when I had found the wine marathon in the south of France, I knew that this had to be the one to do.
Running and wine. Could not think of a better combination! 😂
So the journey began… We would arrive early doors on Friday the 29th of March, in Lyon to pick up the cars so that we could travel south to the town of Givry. There we would collect our running numbers and see what the little town had to offer. My friend Amy had decided to run the 10KM route whilst I took on the marathon, however there is choice to run the half marathon too.
Once we collected our numbers, we went to find a spot of lunch. There were not many choices, but I did not expect the likes of a city, so we went for a nice looking restaurant named ‘La Cadole‘ which was absolutely lovely and the staff were so helpful!
This little restaurant was FANTASTIC – if you get the chance to go, then please do!
I had booked an apartment in Rully which held 8 of us in total. It was well looked after and had a lot of character, NOT TO MENTION the hot tub out the back. Which means that I had post-marathon plans already! Rully was a 15 minute drive from the town of Givry (the start and finish line) so we were in a perfect position. Plus, we were to run through this borough during the race and it was absolutely stunning!
The night before, we got a load of food in from the local supermarket which was only a five-minute drive away so we could prepare for race day how we wanted. After a good nights sleep, we were raring to go!
The drive to the town of Givry was pretty smooth. There WERE a few road closures, close to the race area (which is always to be expected) so make sure that you plan ahead of race day. We had to put our car in a nearby car park (as advised from the race pamphlet) and then we hopped onto one of the buses that was there, packed full with runners ready for the race ahead. These buses were there especially for those heading to the marathon and other races.
When we arrived, the sun was shining and the atmosphere was INCREDIBLE. Many people were in fancy dress and groups had arrived to win ‘best fancy dress’ prizes! Music blared whilst the runners queued up to start the race. THIS was exactly what I had wanted for my birthday marathon. Wearing my party sash, I was ready to rock and roll!
The marathon starts at 9am, whilst the half/10KM/MARA3 all started between 9:30-11am. This gave a nice staggered feel to the race, which meant we could all celebrate together at the end! The children’s races started in the afternoon (if you have the little ones coming with you!)
The routes are slightly different, but the course terrain is pretty much the same! Lots of hills and trail-like routes. This was a tough set-up and I was glad that I had decided to take the day as it comes without the pressure on time. I never had a thought to check the course layout but quickly I realised that I had to learn to love those steep, steep hills!
As always, I saw this as a challenge, not a problem, so I took my time and enjoyed the atmosphere that France had to give me. It wasn’t short of sights to see and I got to chat to many people along the way!
Now, my French isn’t fantastic and I purposely tried to update my language in the lead up to my holiday but it didn’t stop me from trying out what I knew! The locals were really helpful and understood my efforts, which resulted in laughs and friendly banter – WIN. I was so grateful for the other runners giving me their time!
A couple of my favourite moments.
- Seeing the guy pushing a barrel of wine around with him, that must have been hard work! Well done.
- Having a large group of people (that were running for charity) sing ‘Bon anniversaire’ to me 10KM into the race. I had a little dance with them and blew them some kisses. Thank you!
- Walking up a very steep hill with a guy who had a purple wig on. Bet that was a sight to see us both struggling up the hill!
- Stopping off at one of the wine tasting/water stations and there was a band playing (this was about half way through) it was a great atmosphere and we all stopped for a dance!
- Meeting a guy (and his friend) 12KM from the finish line who was clearly injured. We had decided that we should run together for a short while to keep each other going. We all needed some support at that time. I had to leave them at one of the next stops… I hope that he is all ok now!
- Stopping off at a another wine/water station and chatting to the staff in French about my birthday! The staff were super lovely.
- Seeing the finish line, with my friends and family sat on the wall cheering me on. Always has to be a top moment! Having my little sis running up to me for a big hug always gets the emotions going.
- Speaking to the staff post-race about all the lovely food and wine that they had to offer. They really were super proud of their day!
Once we finished and saw some of the awards being given out for fastest/best dressed etc, we then got to enjoy the sunshine with some of the local delicacies.
These guys knew how to party and they had a BIG evening planned in the town of Givry. Once we had been home to sort ourselves out, we were back in the town centre for 7:30pm for an evening of great wine and good foods. This ticket can be bought when you first sign up to the half/marathon. You have to purchase your own ticket as well as any spectators that may be coming with you on the day.
The price of the ticket is WELL worth the event that they hold. Live music, plenty of wine and snacks to keep you going throughout the evening. When we first walked in, we didn’t know what to expect, but we soon got into the mood of the party and we danced the night away!
Over all, the journey as a whole was fantastic. The race was MORE than I expected; I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Rully and Givry.
I want to personally thank Jerome who helped me from booking the marathon, to welcoming us into the BIB collection centre and translating for us when we needed the extra help. You put on an amazing event!
For anyone who is nervous on taking on a local, smaller marathon (and by smaller, I mean not as well-known as some of the other marathons) then DO NOT worry! I feared that I would not understand the process, or that I would get lost or not get the atmosphere that I wanted BUT I was proved wrong… and it is currently one of my favourite running events to date! I got everything above and MORE.
I would recommend this event to anyone; hard core runners, newbie runners or even non-runners as this has something for everyone! Take a look at their website for more information, and do not be afraid to send me a message if you have any questions!
Also, check out my Instagram feed for pictures of me at the #MarathonDesVinsCoteDeLaCoteChalonnaise !!
All thoughts within this post are my own – for any more information on the event itself, please visit the website HERE and contact help if you have any further queries.