NEW YORK, October 28, 2013 — Grape harvest season from New York to Napa happens to coincide with fall running season.
Wine-loving runners, however, have a bounty of races year-round, that cater to folks who like to pound grape, with many of them selling out months in advance.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
November 9, 2013 in Florida
This nighttime half marathon with a 10 p.m. start runs through Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom theme parks before finishing at Epcot, but the real draw is the Finish Line Party at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Epcot stays open to 4 a.m. for runners, with music, Disney characters, and, of course, food and wine. Friends and family can buy tickets to the party too.
Race swag includes a technical shirt, $10 Disney gift card, one of runDisney’s iconic finisher medals, and entrance to the Finish Line Party. The weekend also includes a 5K fun run and kids races. www.runDisney.com
Spicewood Vineyards Half-Marathon and 10K
December 7, 2013 in Texas
These vineyard races promise challenging out-and-back courses along country roads just 40 minutes west of Austin. They also promise runners a post-race wine tasting and food spread of Texan proportions; grilled chicken, smoked pulled pork, pasta salad, sandwiches, and cheese to pair with the wine.
The race benefits Toys For Tots, and Santa Claus and Elf costume contests help runners get into the spirit of the season. Runners take home a technical shirt and etched wine glass. Winners earn a bottle of Spicewood Wine. www.runintexas.com
The Vintage Run Series
Year-round in New York
The Vintage Run Series in New York’s Hudson Valley was conceived as a relaxed way to meld running and wine. Participants are timed, but there are no finisher medals or awards. Every run takes place at or near a vineyard, finishing with a tasting at the host winery. Most vintage runs are 2.5 to 4 miles long with some longer courses too. Runners take home a wine glass from the host vineyard. www.facebook.com/SevenFiveOEvents
Wine Country Runs Half Marathon
March 23, 2014 in California
The top male and female finishers at this California Central Coast race take home their weight in wine. But all runners take home a technical shirt and wine glass after finishing the mostly paved course that tours vineyard roads and the Salinas River. The event also includes a 5K and Kids’ Half Mile Grape Stomp. Post race festivities include a breakfast bar and live music. If traveling from afar, be sure to tour nearby Hearst Castle, the 165-room estate of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. www.winecountryruns.com
Fueled By Fine Wine Half Marathon
July 13, 2014 in Oregon
Calling all Pinot Noir lovers. Oregon’s Willamette Valley promises a challenging and hilly run through vineyard trails beside rows of the black grape. “You won’t run your best time,” says race president Chris Nagy, “but you’ll have your best time.” Race registration includes a technical shirt, medal and Pinot Noir wine glass. The post-race party features tastings from vintners in Oregon’s Dundee Hills Wine Growers Association. www.fueledbyfinewine.com
Wine Country Half Marathon Series
May to October, North America
Six North American wine regions are the draw at these destinations races tailor-made for grape guzzlers in Virginia, Oregon, Santa Barbara, Calif., Healdsburg, Calif, Napa to Sonoma, Calif., and British Columbia in Canada.
The flagship event in the series is the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon on July 20, 2014. The fast course, with a net elevation drop of 77 feet, takes runners from Carneros to the Sonoma Plaza past acres of grapevines, ranches, and farms. The post-race UnitedHealthcare Wine and Music Festival includes 20 wineries and breweries. Runners take home the Riedel wine glass that comes with their complimentary tasting. Other race swag includes a technical shirt and finisher’s medal. Runners can also purchase tickets to wine tours, a pre-race dinner and a welcome reception at a local vineyard. destinationraces.com
Harvest Wine Run
September 2014 in Rhode Island
Wine may not be the first thing that comes to mind when visiting the Ocean State, but the Coastal Wine Trail of Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts features nine vineyards. Among them, Newport Vineyards hosts this 3.5-mile trail run through its grapevines. After the race, which starts at 3 p.m., runners enjoy a BBQ dinner and wine tastings. The wine glass is theirs to keep. www.eidentracing.com
Enchanted Forest Wine Run
September 2014 in Oregon
Want to wine and dine while you run? You can at the Wooldridge Creek Winery in Oregon. This cross-country style half-marathon and 5K starts with a 3-mile run around the winery, followed by 10 miles in an “enchanted” forest with mountain, creek and vineyard views. Aid stations feature foods and beverages like coffee, chocolate and, of course, wine. In keeping with the themes, prizes are awarded for best gnome and fairy costumes, and a bonus “Magic Mushroom” scavenger hunt rewards runners who find special fungi hidden along the course.
Entry to the half marathon and 5K includes a wine glass and glass of wine, and half marathoners also get a finisher’s medal and local, organic meal. www.thewinerun.com
North County Wine Run
September 2014 in Washington
This wine run benefits the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, which serves nearly 150,000 kids every year from around the western U.S. In the fundraiser spirit, the half marathon and 9K allow runners to push a stroller. Walkers are welcome too; the half marathon has a leisurely 4-hour time limit.
The course has views of Mt. St. Helens and ends at Schumacher Farm, where runners are treated to lunch, wine, jazz and other entertainment, all included in the registration fee. Runners can also elect to buy tickets to dinner at a local winery the night before the race. northcountywinerun.getboldevents.com
September 2014 in Michigan
Perhaps the most creatively named, this weekend of races includes a 7-mile run, 5K run and 5K walk through the vineyard rows of Michigan’s Leelanau peninsula. Following the races, runners can opt into the Harvest Stompede Wine Tour, a self-guided outing among the 23 Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association member wineries, pairing local foods with their wines. Tastes range from bratwurst and sauerkraut paired with Riesling to strawberry shortcake paired with Pinot Noir. Race registration and wine tour tickets are sold separately. www.lpwines.com
Idaho Wine Run
September 2014 in Idaho
There’s a distance for everyone in Idaho’s Snake River Valley. Runners can choose from a marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K and half-mile fun run for kids. For runners who can’t wait until the post-race party, some aid stations include wine samples in addition to water. Afterwards, runners sip wine from over 10 local vintners. Runners take home a T-shirt and wine glass. idahowinerun.net
The Great Arizona Grape Stomp Series
September-November 2014 in Arizona
Arizona may not be synonymous with wine, but the Arizona Wine Growers Association wants to change that. This series of 5K runs benefits the association, whose vineyards sit in the cool, high deserts of the state. Registration includes a tote bag, T-shirt and wine glass. www.arizonawine.org
October 3-5, 2014 in New York
The Wineglass Marathon Weekend, which includes a marathon, half marathon and 5K, showcases New York’s Finger Lakes wine region at the height of fall foliage. The course is known as a flat and fast downhill run from Bath, N.Y. to Corning, N.Y. Voted “Speediest Marathon” by “Runner’s World” readers in 2010, the Wineglass Marathon starts near an elevation of 1,200 feet before gradually dropping to 920 feet at the finish.
But as the name suggests, many runners come for the libations and vintner-inspired swag, including a wine glass, bottle of sparkling wine, and a handmade glass medal. www.wineglassmarathon.com
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. Her work has been seen in Newsweek, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, ABC-TV in New York and over two dozen other outlets. She has finished seven marathons and four triathlons. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com.
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