Run. Sip. Explore.
Wine and racing…is that really a thing?
This is not only a thing, but a growing trend in different cities and running groups around the globe. Most runners, like myself, are scanning the internet for challenging races in cool destinations with badass bling (don’t kid yourself, race bling affects many people’s decisions to sign-up or keep searching on Google). Add wine to the race cocktail and you will get a quality field or at least an extra motivated one. Destination Races produces the event as part of the popular Wine Country Half Marathon series with its six events in North America. It’s the only race in the series located on the east coast and it’s remained a favorite of runners seeking a more bucolic setting away from the hustle and bustle of major cities.
Disclaimer: Before all you runners roll your eyes, email me, text me (how you have my phone # is beyond me), I do not endorse trying a new product, especially running shoes, the night before a race, let alone a half marathon.
Let’s backtrack about 7 hours. My alarm went off at 3:33 am. Somewhere between 3:37 & 3:51, I pulled myself out of bed, showered (I think), hopped in my car and drove 6.5 hours from Charlotte, North Carolina to Loudoun, Virginia. Special shout out to the creators of Serial for captivating my attention over 8 consecutive episodes. I may or may not be the last person on that train, but I am glad I boarded!
Anyway, I walked into the race expo, grabbed my bib, double checked my tracking chip worked properly and was about to leave… until I saw running sneakers without laces called Zero Tie shoes. These newer running shoes are insanely popular in Asia. In the U.S., this product is just in the infancy of rolling out. Think Back-to-the-Future without the Nike symbol. I was offered the opportunity to sample these on race day, and since I have never done such a thing, I figured when in wine country…
13.1 ends with bling in a vineyard
The 13.1-mile loop course starts and finishes amongst the lush vineyards and farmland at Doukenie Winery. After the first half mile, the spectator support dwindles considerably, but runners are treated to creative mile markers along the route all tied to the theme of vino. The course is surrounded by beautiful foothills, vineyards, and some funny signage along the way.
By Mile 6, my newer racing shoes were taking a toll. The air circulation was not ideal, my feet were hot and I could feel the blisters forming. Of course, I anticipated some discomfort, but I will say, not having to bend down and retie my shoes was a nice change of pace. In past marathons, when I bend down late in a race to tie my shoes, I occasionally cramp. It’s aggravating and this happens at least every four or five races, so not having to worry about this issue was comforting.
From miles 6-12, runners went through a ton of hills, dirt roads, and battled against a climbing humidity. I began pushing my pace closer to the picturesque vineyard driveway foray for the final half mile into Doukenie Winery. Once across the finish line, runners and their guests are can attend the post-race Wine and Music Festival featuring live music, and wine tasting ($25 extra but worth the add-on during registration) from a dozen of Loudoun County’s wineries.
And after a tough 13.1 miles through the vineyards of Virginia, what better way to celebrate than to drink a glass of vino directly from your finishing medal!