Sunday 9 September 2018

One day one photo - 9: Bacchus half-marathon

One of this year's sporting goals was to run the Paris marathon, which took place in April. I did all the training and got into a good place with my running.

Then it all went pear-shaped literally the day before - a trio of events stacked against me and I ended up not doing it. Still wanting to salvage things in some way, I considered entering the New York marathon, which happens in November.

In the end I chose not to enter it because there was too much at stake if things went wrong again and I decided not to go. Also I wasn't sure if my wish to go was just a knee-jerk reaction, so preferred to wait a few months and reflect before forking out £2,000+ to go across the Atlantic.

In the meantime I began to toy with doing trail runs, and the idea of even a mountain marathon in a national park became appealing. I didn't sign up for a mountain marathon in the end, but what I have plumped for is the Beachy Head marathon. It's going to be 26.2 miles up and down through the South Downs - around 1500m of climbing.

I do like that area, having cycled there a number of times with my mountain bike or my cyclocross bike.
Mbaba Mwana Waresa running with some elves at Bacchus half marathon!
A run around there will definitely be a challenge. So with that in mind, I have been doing lots of trail runs. 

And the Bacchus half-marathon was one of the milestones in my preparation.

You will have guessed from the name that this event relates to wine. And yes, it certainly did! Held at the Denbies Vineyard in Dorking, this race also showcased the tipples from the Surrey wine producers.

Well who better to sample them than we runners! So at each of the six drink stations there was water, but on top of that every runner could have a small glass of one of their wines. We were treated to things like Juniper Hill (sweet white), Zig Zag (red), and White Downs (sparkling) - all named after places in the local area.

I was doing just the half-marathon, but there was also a full marathon option, which basically involved doing the loop twice, and therefore having at least 12 small glasses of wine! Now that's a challenge!

In addition, it was a fancy dress race. Being dressed up is strongly encouraged, as you do look a misfit turning up in your club running kit! It doesn't matter what fancy dress you wear - there's no theme. I ran past a few Wonder Women, fairies, tigers, elves, and many Batmen!

This race was our answer to the Marathon du Medoc, in France. In fact, that event took place on the very same weekend.

My costume was probably quite conservative as I went as the African female equivalent of Bacchus - Mbaba Mwana Waresa. This goddess wears a colourful long dress, headgear and a lot of jewellery. So for me I just dressed like I was going out for a dinner party in Surrey (dahling), but stopping for a little run with a wine and cheese aperitif along the way!

My run was a fun affair - probably the easiest 13.1 miles I will ever do in a race! It's not that the course was easy. With 400m of climbing along the North Downs Way and the Pilgrims Way it was no walk in the park - well actually it was a walk for many! On a number of sections most people were reduced to walking, particularly in the first half which gradually climbed up to Ranmore Common.

As most of my running recently has consisted of uphill running on trails I wasn't phased by the slopes. What made the race easy for me, was the fact that I could stop as much as I wanted - to savour the wine, chat to people at the drink stations, take photos and make adjustments to the odd wardrobe malfunction.

It was more like my usual Sunday morning training run, probably with the same amount of stoppages except that in the Bacchus half-marathon these were more fun than my usual loo breaks or consulting the Ordnance Survey map!

The time recorded on my Garmin was 2hrs 14, but my official time was 2hrs 45. I really had been savouring the atmosphere, and would definitely recommend it!

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