View from the Citadel

The Marathon des Vins de Blaye is an alternative to the more popular and harder-to-get-into Marathon du Médoc. It offers a similar concept, with a course that includes passing through different wineries in a festive atmosphere, with many participants in costume and the option to taste many wines. Located just a few kilometres from Bordeaux, Blaye, with a military citadel recognized as a World Heritage Site, and emerged as the ideal occasion to combine a family visit, sports, and tourism, taking advantage of a public holiday in our hometown.

Taking advantage of the car trip from Valladolid, we could stop as we pleased to visit the most interesting points along the way. On Friday, we visited the city of Bordeaux in the afternoon, arriving in Blaye after the bib collection closed at 8:00 PM. However, this was not a problem since it was available from 6:00 AM in the Citadel, which was the hub of all the race logistics, including the start and finish, bib collection, post-race meal, etc.

In addition to the marathon, which starts at 9:00 AM on Saturday, there is also a less demanding 10.5k race. With a time limit of 7 hours, the marathon passes through 14 villages, featuring multiple wine tastings and numerous refreshment stations. An irresistible offer that brought a small contingent from Valladolid to Blaye, with Chema (and family), Pepe, and Quique ready to face and add another notch to their marathon résumés.

Blaye Citadel (out wall)

Since our scommodation was less than 5 minutes from the Citadel, I headed over a little after 7:00 AM to pick up my race package, with last-minute preparations still underway to set up the start/finish area, and some of the earliest runners already around. After a short walk, I return to the apartment to finish preparations and walk back to the start. The temperature is ideal, although the forecast to reach 29°C can make the race a real challenge.

Positioned in the starting area, we gather around 600 participants for the 42k (the other race starts a bit later), in a festive setting with time for some pre-race photos.

After leaving the Citadel, we tour Blaye before exiting the village. From there, the course traverses other small towns and villages in the countryside, with a route that takes us through road sections and cross-country.

Race start/finish

Running in a pack with Chema and Quique, I crossed the 10-kilometer mark in 53:17, at a 3h45m pace, although it is still early in the race to make predictions. After a couple kilometres, I fall behind Chema and Quique, with 30 kilometres ahead.

I find a well-organized marathon with multiple refreshment stations, beautiful views, and well-placed kilometre markers. It reminds me of the many off-road marathons I did in UK. On the flip side, the course is tough, with continuous ups and downs—not very steep but enough to make me conserve energy for later.

I crossed the halfway point in 2:02:10, trying to make the most of the refreshment stations while avoiding the wine and numerous snacks. Already running at a slower pace, I reach the 30-kilometre mark in 3:01:10, as we continue crossing villages and wineries, with little but enthusiastic public, although my limited knowledge of French prevents me from understanding much.

Finally, we approach Blaye and its Citadel again, which we must circle to take the access route to the top of the fortress. I cross the finish line with a net time of 4:25:35, and 117th position out of 652 finishers.

This was my third marathon in France, for a highly recommended race, far from the crowds that might appear in other similar events.

Staying overnight in Blaye, the post-race dinner allows our Valladolid group to reunite and share experiences. The next day, on our way home, we still have time for a morning tour of Bordeaux and an afternoon visit to the impressive Dune of Pilat.

Thank you for reading this far, and see you at the next stop.

View of Bordeaux
Dune of Pilat

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