If you like a little wine and cheese with your 26.2-mile race, then let me suggest the 2013 Medoc Marathon.
Maybe the only event in the world that boasts the same attributes, the Medoc affords runners the chance to mix business (a race) with pleasure (wine tasting, costume wearing, food stands and more) while still having the satisfaction of completing the grind of marathon.
To put that in perspective, try to think of another sporting event in which a wine tasting is included. Stumped? I can't think of one either.
It's no surprise RateRuns' Twitter account used the word "unique" when trying to stir up some hype for the race:
There's even a theme for this year's race: science fiction.
The beauty of the Medoc Marathon is that there's still a race to be won. While much of the field will revel in the wine, sights and fun until the six-hour, 30-minute window is over, some come to France to win the event.
Thierry Guibault is the reigning champion, but he's far from a lock to win the event a year later. Thousands will flock to the more than 50 chateaus the course has to offer. Only one can win the actual race, but there's a good chance everyone who sets foot on the scenic route will go home satisfied.
With a heavy emphasis on conviviality, health and fun, the 2013 Medoc Marathon is set to commence Saturday morning. We'll prepare you for what's to come with some information about the event and what it all means below.
What: 2013 Medoc Marathon
When: Saturday, Sept. 7, at 9:30 a.m. CEST (3:30 a.m. ET)
Where: Departs and arrives Pauillac, France. Course runs through various French cities.
Route: Click here (via MarathonduMedoc.com)
Full Schedule of Events: Click here (via MarathonduMedoc.com)
According to Weather.com, Medoc, France is going to provide runners with a friendly race environment all weekend.
There is currently a 50 percent chance of rain Friday, and Weather.com is reporting those showers will likely be in the morning. With a high of 72 degrees Fahrenheit, though, there's a great chance most of the moisture will dry up by the evening hours.
Saturday is race day, and conditions appear to be setting up perfectly. The expected high is 65 degrees Fahrenheit with a 10 percent chance of rain. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, hopefully giving some coverage at various points along the course.
Truly a "bucket list" activity, the Medoc Marathon is coming up on 30 years of providing marathon competitors and wine lovers a chance to combine the two passions without sacrificing either.
Even so, not every competitor signed up for the race is convinced wine and running mix:
Starting in Pauillac, the course will take runners west toward Artigues before darting south. As they make their way back east toward Beychevelle, a number of different chateaus will certainly draw attention.
Moving back north toward the halfway point, runners will pass back through Pauillac before making their way toward the top of the map and through a variety of French cities.
The number of chateaus on the route is virtually endless. If one is missed because there's a worry for time, another wine tasting option will pop up faster than one can blink. But spending too much time at one wine tasting venue could result in a DNF (did not finish).
If a runner does finish, it will be a massive accomplishment. Finishing a marathon always is. If runners finish wearing costumes like the ones Wine & Cheese Expo's Twitter account posted earlier this year, they might deserve special praise:
It should be abundantly clear that a higher emphasis is placed on having fun, experiencing the sights and sounds of the countryside, and balancing alcohol intake with conventional stamina than simply finishing the race in the fastest time possible.
At the Medoc Marathon, it's all about the added perks. Few marathons do it better, and this year's event should once again prove a trip to run a race in France in early September might be the best trip you ever take.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant on Twitter.