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Favourite Race of 2019

Our race prep for the 2019 Bacchus race last September was less than ideal. Neither Michael or myself were really feeling that up for it, we both had niggles or injuries, and we’d already downgraded from the half marathon to the 10k distance.

The night before, instead of an early night and a healthy meal, we accidentally stayed up late and shared a bottle of wine. Oops!

We had to go, we weren’t aiming for any particular finish time, we had our fancy dress costumes ready, and we were meeting a friend there, so we set our alarm and dragged ourselves out of bed early the next morning to make the journey by train over to Box Hill.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Bacchus race before let me summarise it for you as it’s not your standard event. So you run/drink wine/run/drink wine/run/drink wine / eat hog-roast / dance the afternoon away with members of the Village People!

Okay, Village People not guaranteed every year, but hopefully, they’ll be back as their costumes were brilliant.

The wine bit isn’t completely gratuitous given that the race is set in a beautiful vineyard in Surrey. Walking towards the venue we were surprised by how large the vineyard was, and in the sunlight the views across the fields were stunning. We were lucky enough to have amazing weather that day, glorious late summer sunshine making it warm but not too hot.

There are a number of race distances available; 10k, half or full marathon. And while most people were in fancy dress there were some speedsters there on the day in their running club vests, tearing their way around the course.

But dressing up for this race is positively encouraged and while we got a few odd looks walking through Victoria station at 8 am, all dressed up with pink and green coloured hair, once we arrived at the race I would have felt out of place in normal running kit.

We joined the start line with people dressed as superheroes, pirates, bees, cavemen, daffodils, and grapes. Really anything goes! Lots of smiles were exchanged as we all checked out each other’s costumes, and dressed as Harley Quinn and The Joker we fitted in well.

The race started and the first couple of miles passed quickly as we chatted and ran leisurely along the course. We were never going to push ourselves to race this one, this was all about having fun and enjoying the day.

I won’t lie though, it was a challenging course in places with some steep climbs but it was worth it for the reward of the amazing views across the vineyard. According to the Garmin, there was 819ft of elevation. Not ideal for somebody suffering from an achilles injury (me), so we walked the steeper inclines and made the most of the downhill sections for taking the brakes off and stretching our legs out.

Did I mention there was wine too?

We did the 10k distance which had 2 wine stops on the route. The first offered small samples of a very nice red wine and snacks of quiche. In theory, you took a short break to sample your wine and then got back on your way. Or you do what we did, finish the wine and then join the back of the queue to get another glass! Oops again.

Finishing the wine after the first stop we trotted our way through another couple of miles, the smiles on our faces getting bigger as the wine started kicking in. In a change from the normal silence of a serious race there was much chatting and laughing all around us, and really how could you not when running between a topless Gladiator and Minnie Mouse.

The live music along the route is also worth a mention, particularly the adapted version of The Proclaimers classic which had the lyrics “I will run five hundred miles” going round and round in my head for the rest of the day. Some great performers, playing upbeat lively songs which saw those with surplus energy (or having had too much wine) jigging around to the music.

The second stop had 2 wines to sample including a glass of sparkling wine. Again, we may have accidentally had a couple of samples of each (got to get your money’s worth, right?). This stop also had another snack, this time some delicious bhajis. We tucked in and then as we resumed our run we started wondering about the wisdom of combining fizzy wine and spicy bhajis as we belched and giggled our way through the next couple of miles to the finish.

Crossing the finish line we were given a fantastic Bacchus medal, one of those really weighty ones, and headed to get our hog roast bap which was included in the entry price along with a voucher for a full glass of wine or a beer. We settled on the grass in the sunshine to enjoy our lunch and rehydrate with a beer! It’s isotonic you know, so that’s allowed.

Lunch finished we made our way to the Vineyard shop to buy a bottle of their sparkling wine having been told by some guys that it was cheaper to buy from the shop than from the bar in the marquee. Around this time a lot of the half marathon guys were finishing and the tent started filling up.

The music was then turned up with some disco classics blasting out of the speakers and the dancing began. Cue YMCA, the running Village People, and loads of sweaty runners jumping around doing the moves.

The atmosphere had been great all day and the post-run drinks and disco was still in full swing when we eventually dragged ourselves away around 4pm to make our way home. We really can’t recommend it enough as a fun running day out and we can’t wait for next year.

Anybody want to join us?


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