Wine lovers, this marathon is for you! With approximately 20 Beaujolais brands offered at aid stations located inside castles and chateaus, runners in outlandish costumes, and a forgiving seven-hour time limit, what is there not to love about the Marathon International du Beaujolais 2017?
Granted, it was still 42.195 kilometers long and the route had us running on trails and asphalt, but it was awesome to run through wine cellars and vineyards, and finish together with the shorter distance runners to a boisterous and supportive crowd at Boulevard Jean Jaurès in the city center.
Our hour-long Brussels Airlines flight from Brussels Zaventem landed at Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport at 6:00 PM on Friday, November 17, 2017. We took the complimentary bus to pick up our car rental from Thrifty so Richard can drive us directly to the ParcExpo in Villefranche-sur-Saône. The marathon village was closing in two hours to make way for the pasta party at 8:00 PM. The drive was about 40 minutes on the freeway with a 2.40€ toll fee. We were able to pick up my bib with 30 minutes to spare.
We were booked at Ibis Hotel, one of the race sponsors, located a few minutes’ drive away from the ParcExpo. The goodie bag contained a long-sleeved race shirt, a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau wine, and a sachet of Tiger Balm. Dinner was at the Courtpaille restaurant of the hotel. Ours was a handicap-accessible room, so it was spacious.
The start line was at Fleurie, one of the wine-producing communes 30 kilometers away from Villefranche-sur-Saône. Buses were available from 6:30 to 7:15 AM at the ParcExpo to ferry marathoners for the 9:00 AM start time on a Saturday. We were greeted by a wonderful drum line and a flag line where I found the Philippine flag.
The local wine was also being served to runners even before the race start! Aside from the wine, they served coffee, tea, and finger foods while we kept warm inside the gym. The day started at 2 degrees Celsius and reached a high of 9 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. Wine must have kept the less-clothed runners warm because I was cold the whole time and I did not have a drop of wine.
The scenery was beautiful, and the atmosphere very friendly. I found the American flag at one of the aid stations.
Of course, all sorts of wines were available for tasting. They were also cooking steaks at one of the aid stations, how fancy!
The runners were the visual entertainment but audio entertainment was also provided by various local bands.
We shared the last few kilometers of the race with the half marathoners who met us at the 35K mark, and the 10K runners at approximately the 37K mark. I took way too many photos, so my finish time was not my best. Still, the experience was incredible!
The finisher’s medal was a tastevin replica, the ancient wine-tasting tool that sommeliers in today’s fancy restaurants wear around their necks. Cool!
Richard and I stayed one more night at Villefranche-sur-Saône. We had a leisurely breakfast before driving to Lyon to do some sightseeing.
We returned to Brussels on Sunday, November 19, 2017 on the Brussels Airlines flight at 6:45 PM.