The sun was blazing and the runners thirsty at the second annual Half-Corked Marathon on Saturday (May 23) in the Okanagan.
Presented by the Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country, the event is modelled after the Medoc Marathon in Bordeaux, France. It’s a dream for active, fun-loving oenophiles: runners were rewarded every one or two of kilometres with samples from 15 wineries as well as gourmet bites made by local chefs.
In case it wasn’t clear, the object of this half marathon isn’t for anyone to mark a personal best (in fact, participants weren’t even timed this year), but rather to have a hoot on a spectacular course through the region’s sloping vineyards, by farms and across rivers, and along roads, gravel, grass, and sand.
Almost all of the 1,000 runners were in costume, dressed as everything from gladiators to sock monkeys to Marilyn Monroes. That bride and groom, though, weren’t dressed up for a lark: one couple got hitched at the start line and ran their first race together as husband and wife.
With a pre-race cheers at Hester Creek, the first wave started at 8 a.m., with participants making their way to Inniskillin then on to Culmina, which satiated runners with its Rosé Pamplemousse, the winery’s Saignée Rosé mixed with fresh grapefruit juice. Mmmmm.
Red, white, and ring toss at Road 13 came next, before it was on to Rustico Farm and Cellars for an eye-poppingly spicy sangria made with the vineyard’s Last Chance red (a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Chancellor) and Hellbitch, a “hot wine sauce” consisting of Cabernet France and jalapeno). Yowza! Church & State followed, the winery pouring samples of its Cuvée Blanc as well as its Lost Inhibitions’ blends that have unconventional labels that say things like Your Place or Mine? and Stay for Breakfast.
Runners also visited Silver Sage, Stoneboat (loved the Piano brut), Oliver Twist, Tinhorn Creek, Montakarn, and Desert Hills—all extra-friendly with exceptional sips—before refuelling at Platinum Bench with wine and artisan breads (double cream brie and pear; sopressata and Swiss cheese). The final and just as fabulous two stops were Maverick and Quinta Ferrera.
At the finish line participants celebrated with a boxed lunch, live music, medals, and… you guessed it. More wine.
Once you do this race, all others seem even more unappealing or unnecessarily harsh: no Viognier or appies along the way? Forget it.
Entrance to the half marathon is by lottery; I attended as a member of the media.