In May, I descended upon Leesburg,VA with 7 of my running buddies for the Virgina Wine Country Half Marathon put on by DestinationRaces.com. My second of three “wine” themed running events. (Wine Glass Marathon 2012, & AnotherMotherRunner.com RagnarRelay Team – SanFran to Napa ..in 5 days!)
While I have professed, not to be a fan of “corporate” races much preferring small regional races. I was pleasantly surprised by the phenomenal race, with a very regional feel, put on by DestinationRaces.com.
Its really hard to believe that only 47 miles from our Nations Capital is the heart of Virgina’s wine country. Loudoun County has to be one of America’s best kept secrets. It was quaint, and absolutely beautiful. Rolling hills, numerous wineries, horse farms, and lots of open green space. It reminded me of Napa Valley, CA. Perfect setting for a 13.1 mile run!
We were fortunate to rent a condo in downtown Leesburg walking distance from cute shopping and dinning. Staying in a condo vs. a hotel was a huge perk to the weekend. We arrived Thursday night from Raleigh to a full refrigerator and a gourmet spread of food! Rebecca, arriving from Nashville, got in early enough to take care of all the shopping and prepare dinner. Rebecca, our resident planner and foodie ROCKs!
After an awesome dinner, KMac presented us all with customized hand crafted crowns. There were many laughs, as we each tried to guess our individual crown theme. Our weekend was off to a great start!
Friday, we ventured to the expo to pick up our bibs. The expo, very small, was easy to find and navigate. We were able to get our arm bands for the post race wine tastings. This eliminated the need to carry our id on race day.( one less thing to forget)With race bibs in hand, we were off to visit some local wineries.
We had a great afternoon! Our day was not over yet as we had a dinner invite from our buddy Leigh’s college roomate who lived in Leesburg. What a brave sole inviting over 7 complete strangers, who have been tasting wine all afternoon, for dinner. She completely rolled out the red carpet for us. We had a wonderful time and were so grateful for her hospitality. I am so sad we left without a picture with her.
Race day! The race started and finished at Doukenie Winery. There was plenty of field parking only a short distance from the starting line. Porta potties and wash stands galore so the lines were minimal. Always a plus! Navigating to the start line was super easy!
After some brief announcements and tribute to local mother runner whom had recently passed away we were off! The course was very well marked and staffed along the two lane country roads. I was very impressed that the course was monitored by State Motorcycle Police. In several places along the route, the opposite lane was not closed to traffic. Any oncoming cars were given a police escort to pass the runners. In all my races, I have never seen this done. I certainly appreciated that and hope I will see that in future races.
The course was rolling hills through, farms, ranches, estates, wineries. Majority of the course was on asphalt with a small piece on dirt road. Very peaceful. I really enjoyed the course.
Midpoint on the course around mile 6-7, we ran through Hiddencroft Vinyards who had wine, water, band, and porta potties. Wine is definitely not what I want to drink 6 miles into half marathon but it was just a little taste and really we had nothing to lose ( at least we hoped not). It was all part of the experience!
The course was wonderful! I cannot say enough good things about it. Definitely a race you want to run, enjoy, and take it all in. It was the perfect race, despite our varied paces, to stick together and enjoy as a group. Rebecca and Becky wanted to race so we told them to take off and enjoy. We would be pulling up the rear and getting Ashley across the finish line of her first half.
After crossing the finish line, we pick up our wine glasses and headed to the tasting party. Admission to the tastings was an additional purchase which included a commemorative Riedel stemless wine glass. Fellow runners who have done this before came prepared with picnic foods, blankets and chairs. Great idea if we do this again. We enjoyed our first pour but all agreed none of us were feeling drinking wine that early and after running. We would have much preferred a beer. We were disappointed that the brewery that was supposed to be part of the tasting was nowhere to be found. My only negative comment about the entire event. We did not linger too long at the tasting before we decided to take our celebration back to the condo. Plus, we did not want to worry with a designated driver. I believe the race offered shuttles from the local hotels but we did not utilize them.
Great race! I was very impressed with DestinationRaces.com. I would definitely consider another one of their races. This race was fantastic. It was the perfect setting for a relaxing, laughter filled weekend with my crazy friends. Thanks for the great time ladies! I cannot wait until our next adventure.