"Hilarious, isn't it? It's not every day you get to have a beer with Superman, Ironman, three Teletubbies and a Geisha girl." I had neglected to mention the gaggle of 1920's flapper girls, some with a week's worth of beard, of which I was one.
We were in the recovery area of the Marathon du Medoc, supping a restorative ale and munching on some sort of pate on thin slices of baguette but despite the familiarity of it being my fourth outing at Medoc it was no less entertaining.
I had managed to secure a bit of a coup for the 2015 edition, and in departure from our normal 1 star accommodation - preferred because of the location right on the start/finish line, I had managed to get our group a cancellation at a local Chateau, a little further away geographically but still hobbling distance, and a million miles away in terms of home comforts. An advance guard of us arrived on the Thursday, and seemed to make it our life's mission, once all the admin had been completed (withdrawal of dossards, organise a tour of the Chateau wine making facilities, museum and so on) for the upcoming festivities, we proceeded to make our way through the Chateau's cellar.
Friday, after a slow start, we checked in for the group (14 of us registered, but 2 ducked out for family reasons before the weekend), painlessly collecting dossards at the expo before the rush at 12 noon when the buses arrived from Bordeaux and the environs. The atmosphere at the expo was like a party - the beer tent was operational at 10.30am, and the proliferation of Medoc like marathons was notable. We saw the Champagne half, Beer Marathon in Liege, various other wine marathons from other wine growing regions of France, and even a stand for the inaugural saki marathon in Japan. Seems the concept of sport, beautiful countryside and booze was a winner.
The rest of the group arrived and after a tour of Chateau Lynch Bages wine making facilities, both old and new, we were afforded a taste of their wine as well as that of Orme de Pez, the first of the large Cazes stable of wines. A reasonably relaxed pasta dinner in the local bistro, accompanied with some other local brews followed, and in bed at a reasonable time.
Saturday morning loomed as we got into our fancy dress costumes and made our way down to breakfast, the reception staff not even lifting an eyebrow at my 1920's pink Flapper Girl dress accessorized with pearls feather headband. Perhaps no surprise but my normal cast iron stomach had been tested and was rumbling ominously. I managed to force down some bread and jam, not my normal porridge or muesli but the selection at brekkie was limited and I made do. The weather forecast had been pretty bad but as we made our way from the Chateau to the start line it remained dry and we got a lot of hoots and hollers from cars and buses as they tried to get as close to the start as possible before disgorging their passengers. As we approached the outskirts of Pauillac people had parked on every available verge and were putting the finishing touches to their various costumes, facepaint here, assembling a chariot there. The effort people made never ceases to amaze and astound, and indeed we looked a fine sight as 12 identically dressed Flapper "Girls" made their way along the hard shoulder.
Before too long we hit the river front, the traditional start line, and jostled our way as far forwards as possible, stopping to have our photos taken with Japanese and Korean runners taken with some of the artificial appendages of some of our team. An amazing aerial acrobatic display later and we were off with a somewhat disconcerting extra 700m to go to the start line.
At around 28km it started to rain. Not your usual mid October drizzle, a proper soaking rain. The more well dressed runners had umbrellas completing their costumes, and duly put them up. Mrs R and I did not. We were absolutely drenched, and the combination of the humidity, first half pace, not enough recovery since the TDS and now the rain caused chafing put a slight downer on my mood. I had to stop and stretch out my legs a couple of times, but I cheered myself up with the thought that at least it was still quite warm. Keep on moving.....
Just before we reached the finish line there was face painting, so I got myself some stripes and a flower, and then Mrs R and I shuffle/jogged to the line, overtaken by 4 guys pushing a steam roller just before the finish. 5hrs 29, about the same as 2014, and a sigh of relief all round, but a sense of achievement as ever.
Mrs R went to the porta potty just over the line, and my knee cramped up waiting for her. As she emerged I was groaning and moaning in the company of a marshall.
"For God's sake darling don't make a fuss otherwise you'll be carted off in an ambulance and we'll never get to the beer tent!" Wise words from Mrs R.
I sucked it up, and hobbled half supported by Mrs R to the beer tent, Superman, Ironman, three Teletubbies and a Geisha girl and a host of others. 5 of the 12 of our party had finished with the others, sensibly, ducking out at half way, bathing, and tucking into some more of the fabulous vintages on offer. We soon joined them.