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As one of the few places where you can combine fine wines with fast times, the Bacchus Marathon is where runners get to taste victory in a vineyard.
While some see the great outdoors as the perfect environment to lace up some running shoes and get active, there are others who couldn’t think of anything better than sitting back in the sunshine with a chilled glass of wine to while away the hours.
Both are brilliant ways of experiencing England’s countryside, and while to some they may seem mutually exclusive, there’s one particular race where you can combine your racing with your riesling.
Run Bacchus is an annual event held at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey, one of the country’s finest vineyards. Competitors can opt to do either a marathon, half-marathon or five-mile run, safe in the knowledge that each drinks station along the route will be serving up beautiful English wine and locally produced food; more grenache than Gatorade.
The marathon course has 12 “refreshment opportunities” throughout its two-loop route through the North Downs and its early autumn date means that the vineyard is pre-harvest, with grapes ready to burst off the vines.
For anyone sober enough to worry about the terrain underfoot, the course is undulating and varied, with one hill to scale, although there is a large chunk of the loop on the road. Running within the North Downs means that you can take in views of Ranmore Common and Mole Valley.
Timings are, for most, fairly irrelevant but race organisers ask that those attempting the marathon be able to complete the race in under five hours. At each of the six sampling stations per loop there is a different wine to taste, with a mix of whites and reds, all of which are produced on Denbies’s estate.
Upon completion of the race there is one final celebratory tipple to help wash down the hog roast that’s been cooking while you’ve been running. For the more sensible and/or competitive, there is also water and snacks – biscuits, sweets, energy bars – also available at each station.
Find out more about the Bacchus Marathon.