Wherever you stand in your running journey, here’s an exciting reason to lace up: Wine-themed races around the world that integrate miles of breathtaking vineyards with boozy offerings both on- and off-course. Whether you’ve flirted with the idea of running a marathon or are just starting to work up to your treadmill 5K, we have the details on the best, bucket-worthy races around the world for wine lovers.
At first, wine and running may seem like an unlikely pairing. But members of both communities integrate their passions, offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences that feature outlandish costumes, picturesque sceneries and even better wine.
What Is a Wine-Lovers Race?
Running communities around the world gather for all sorts of races. A wine-lovers race is the perfect combination of a running event that covers a specific distance (from the 26.2-mile marathon to a 5K) with the oenophile’s favorite endeavors. These races travel through scenic wine routes and sometimes offer the opportunity to enjoy the region’s food and wine along the way.
The word “race” can make these events sound like a competition. Although for some it may be about topping personal records and taking home a trophy, wine-lovers races often encourage a convivial spirit that isn’t to be taken so seriously. In other words, everyone wins these races if they have a good time.
Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, novice runner or looking to take on a new challenge, here are five bucket list-worthy races for your next boozy adventure.
The Best Races for Wine-Lovers
Marathon du Medoc
When: September 2nd, 2023
Where: Bordeaux, France
Recognized as the longest, booziest race in the world, it’s hard to measure up to the grandeur of Marathon du Medoc—often referred to simply as “Medoc.”
Created in 1984, this French marathon is a must for the adventurous runner. Every September, participants gather in outlandish costumes and wind through 59 vineyards of Bordeaux, encountering the breathtaking views of one of the most esteemed wine regions in France.
What makes Medoc a “bucket race” is its on-course offerings. While keeping pace, participants are encouraged to enjoy the 23 wine tastings, 21 gourmet food stands (oysters, ice cream and juicy steak, amongst other delectables) and exquisite musical performances. No wonder why the 26.2 miles of Medoc feel longer than any other marathon—who would want a rendezvous like this to end?
Luckily, it doesn’t have to. An evening ball is open to all after the race, where fireworks, music and food electrify this Marathon village at night. The race is capped at 8,500 participants to maintain the convivial spirit that Medoc is known and loved for, so plan ahead if you’re looking to lace up. Registration for this year’s race opens in March 2023 with more information provided on Medoc’s official website.
Half Corked Marathon
When: May 26th-28th, 2023
Where: British Columbia, Canada
Okanagan Valley’s sunny slopes provide the perfect terrain for a hilly, scenic run. Situated at the southernmost tip of British Columbia, Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country is home to some of Canada’s most esteemed producers and a lively community of wine lovers.
The Half Corked Marathon is one of the region’s signature events. The journey begins the night before with a famous Primavera Dinner al fresco style. Participants then wake up ready to run the roughly 19-kilometer (12-mile) course, cheered on by the several wineries that offer samples along the way. The race is timed for three and a half hours, with plenty of time to taste and sip while staying hydrated.
Live entertainment, food trucks and more wine samplings are offered at the finish line for everyone to enjoy. To wind down, the community continues to embrace hospitality with dinner at a local farm. All are welcome to gather for delicious food and wine to soak in the region’s spectacular scenery one last time.
Bacchus Wine Half Marathon & 10K
When: September 10th, 2023
Where: Dorking, England
Between its rainy climate, love for tea and homage to The Beatles, England might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of quality wine. But the country’s sparkling future positions itself as a new force in the wine world—and a great place to run.
The Bacchus Wine Half Marathon & 10K race takes place on the chalky soils of England’s largest vineyard. The course takes you through Denbie’s Wine Estate and the countryside of Surrey County, with views overlooking the Mole Valley, Ranmore Common and the North Downs. For novice runners, there is also a shorter fun run that packs in the scenery in under two miles.
The French aren’t the only ones who imbibe on course. The race’s namesake, Bacchus, is the Greek god of wine—a title fitting for the race’s boozy offerings. Five wine stations are positioned along the loop, each with a different selection to showcase Denbies’ award-winning English wines. Food is offered at each stop—from savory bites to sweet desserts—as well as musical entertainment and energy gels for an extra boost.
Like Medoc, participants are encouraged to dress up in funky costumes and stay for a post-race celebration—featuring more spirits and a traditional UK hog roasting.
Run Sip Napa to Sonoma: Wine Country Half Marathon & Rosé 5K
When: July 15th-16th, 2023
Where: California, USA
This half marathon is considered one of the most scenic races of its kind in the U.S. Its name says it all: participants run 13.1 miles from Napa to Sonoma, weaving through the iconic farmlands and rolling vineyards of Northern California’s wine country.
The course cuts through the Carneros wine appellation, passing by the ranches and farms that keep the region’s agricultural production alive. Spot vistas of the Napa-Sonoma Wildlife preserve, Mt. Tamalpais in Marin and the farms’ many animals—from cows and pigs to llamas and donkeys.
If 13.1 miles sounds too much, the Rosé 5K in Sonoma offers a shorter option with rosé tasting stations integrated into the course. For the ambitious runner, “the pairing” experience allows you to sign up for both.
Regardless of the chosen route, all are invited to celebrate with a commemorative wine glass and unlimited tastings at the post-race festival.
Wineglass Race Series
When: September 29th-October 1st, 2023
Where: New York, USA
An entire weekend of taking in the cool-climate wines and unbeatable fall foliage of Upstate New York? Yes, please.
The Wineglass Race Series is composed of four road races that take participants through the small towns of the Finger Lakes region, starting in Corning, NY. The Guthrie Wineglass Marathon is a favorite for aspiring Boston qualifiers for its fast and flat road, whereas the Storflex 5K is a family-friendly course for all levels. For the ambitious runner looking to lace up twice in one weekend, the series includes a Pinot Half Marathon and Riesling Marathon Challenge inspired by the region’s top-producing wines.
Whether you choose to run them all or spectate on the sidelines, the Wineglass Weekend is filled with events that everyone can enjoy: from an annual pasta dinner and special guest speakers to the surrounding historic district of local breweries and museums.