Photo: Destination Races
It’s pretty obvious why most runners sign up for a wine-related race—to drink wine after crossing the finish line! While that is definitely the best motivation, these events have even more to offer than just red, white or rosé. Here are five reasons to run a wine country race.
Since most of us don’t reside among vineyards, a race through wine country becomes the perfect excuse for a vacation. The beauty of any wine producing area makes it the perfect getaway with a partner or for a group of friends. Just be sure that your race falls at the beginning of your trip. It’s a bit difficult to run your best if you’ve spent the days prior at wine tastings—but we aren’t here to judge if that’s your plan!
Navigating a course through vineyards, farms and small towns is a beautiful change from city marathons. You may encounter a few more hills than usual, but the views from the top make the climbs worth it. The beauty of the area helps to keep runners relaxed and engaged throughout the race.
“Running amongst the vineyards is a very zen-like experience. No cars or tall buildings,” says Matt Dockstader, owner of Destination Races, which produces a series of boutique-style events hosted in North American wine regions. “Traveling by foot is the best way to experience true wine country. And the sensory experience changes depending upon the time of year and state of the grapes.”
Good wine and quality food always go together. So it’s no surprise that most wine producing regions are also home to amazing restaurants. Given the importance of agriculture in these areas, many establishments are focused on seasonal eating and farm-to-table cuisine. From coffee shops to casual spots to fine dining, there are delicious options to fit any runner’s tastes or budget. Choosing a pre and post-race feast is sure to be a lot of fun.
The Relaxed Race Vibe
If you’re looking for a small, relaxed event, then head to wine country. Many of these races limit the amount of participants, which lends to a calmer feel. The events welcome all levels of runners, from those looking to nab a serious PR to first timers hoping to just enjoy the experience.
“You can of course make any race as serious as you want, but being in wine country kept me from getting too anxious or nervous,” says Ali Feller, host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. “Everyone there seemed so happy, so laid back and so eager to get to that awesome after-party. Who can possible stress over splits and gels when you’re surrounded by vineyards and pinot grigios-to-be?”
Photo: Destination Races
The Other Events
While the race may be the main attraction, there are often many other events sponsored by the organizers, such as pre-race dinners, wine tasting at the expos, and amazing post-race parties.
“We have events within the event designed to showcase the area, such as a welcome receptions, a race dinner and other events at wineries and other unique venues,” says Dockstader of his events. “You’re getting two events—race and wine festival—for the price of one.”
Many of these races also come with a guide of vineyards in the area, so you can easily plan post-race excursions. Bring your race bib or medal in case any wineries have deals for race finishers.