Pick your distance, race through beautiful vineyards, and toast your efforts with flowing vino at the after-party of these events
Wine Country Half Marathon Series
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The seven destination races in the Wine Country Half Marathon Series draw grape guzzlers to Virginia, Oregon, California, and British Columbia. The flagship event in the series is the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon. The fast course, with a net elevation drop of 77 feet, takes runners along paved roads from the Cuvaison Carneros Winery to the Sonoma Plaza, and past acres of grapevines, ranches, and farms with views of Mount Tamalpais, San Pablo Bay, and wildlife marshes. The post-race Wine and Music Festival includes 20 wineries and breweries, so you’re bound to find a new favorite sip.
Photo: TJ Nelson/Destination Races
Texas Wine Series
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The Texas Wine Half Marathon and 5K Series tours the varied wine country in the Lone Star State in three cities: the rolling limestone knolls of Fredericksburg, the high plains of Lubbock at 3,400 feet above sea level, and the flatlands of Brazos Valley in Bryan along paved country lanes. The Food and Wine After Parties of Texan proportions include award-winning vintages from the three host vineyards and grub catered by the likes of Texas chains La Madeleine and Rosa’s Cafe. Half-marathoners earn a wine flight to toast their finish in a commemorative glass, along with a medal that doubles as a corkscrew. And with a leisurely 5-hour time limit (22.5 minutes per mile) for the half-marathon, the event is walker-friendly.
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Enchanted Forest Wine Run
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Wine and dine while you run at the Enchanted Forest Wine Run in the hills of Southern Oregon. This trail half-marathon takes runners through a canopied forest of moss-covered pine, fir, oak, and maple trees with mountain, creek, valley, and vineyard views. Switchbacks and single-track trails make for challenging climbs, so stay fueled with treats like cold-brew coffee, chocolate, and wine offered at some aid stations. Special prizes are handed out for the best fairy costume and for finding “magical mushrooms” along the course. You can also run or walk the 5K through rows of Gewurztraminer grapes. Music, food, and more wine make for a fun party after the race.
Photo: Krisa Olson
Run Wine Country
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The Run Wine Country half-marathon series takes runners on a tipsy tour of Sonoma County, CA. Each event offers a little something different: Cross the finish line of the scenic Healdsburg course through Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, and find 10 wineries pouring their offerings and beer in an Oktoberfest-style tent. Water to Wine has an ultra-fast downhill course on paved and hard-packed dirt vineyard roads that starts and finishes at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. And Windsor Green offers 10K and 5K road races that are walker-friendly in addition to the hilly half-marathon, with a post-race hot breakfast prepared by the Windsor Fire Department. Finish all three races (held in May, August, and October) and earn a custom-label bottle of wine.
Photo: Helen Day/Events with Sole
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The Wineglass Marathon Weekend is a favorite among hard-core runners and drinkers. The marathon, half-marathon, and 5K showcase New York’s Finger Lakes wine region at the height of fall foliage. The marathon course, popular with Boston Marathon-bound speedsters, is known as a flat and fast downhill run from Bath to Corning, starting near an elevation of 1,200 feet before gradually dropping to 920 feet at the finish. You’ll pass tranquil valley lakes and hued hillsides with saffron gold, burnt orange, and titian red leaves before finishing in the “Crystal City’s” historic center, home to the world-famous Corning glass. But as the name suggests, many runners come for the libations and vintner-inspired swag, including a wine glass, bottle of sparkling wine, and handmade glass medal.
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Photo: A.D. Wheeler Photography
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It’s a grape-stomping good time at the Harvest Stompede in Michigan’s Leelanau peninsula. The 7-mile run, 5K run, and 5K walk take participants through rolling hills and vineyard rows where plump soon-to-be picked grapes await the fall harvest. Grape-stomping pits at the finish let runners do some fancy footwork I Love Lucy-style. 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, which pair local foods with their varietals. Tastes range from bratwurst and sauerkraut coupled with riesling to strawberry shortcake paired with pinot noir, and a tour ticket buys a wine glass and pour and pairing at each stop.
Vineyards Marathon and Grapes of Half
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The name may be tongue-in-cheek, but the Vineyards Marathon and Grapes of Half in Eugene, OR, takes its wine and running seriously. Races include a point-to-point marathon, half-marathon, and 5K that all run through the rolling hills of Willamette Valley’s wineries. Post-race, runners nosh of a spread of fresh fruit, bagels, meats, cheeses, olives, veggies, hummus, and more at the Sylvan Ridge Winery. Then the party moves to Sweet Cheeks Winery for a dessert bar featuring cupcakes infused with riesling and pinot noir. Half-marathoners and marathoners take home a wine glass and get a free pour at each of the three sponsoring vineyards, including local award-winner Noble Estate.
Photo: Maryalicia Verdecchia
Idaho Wine Run
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There’s a distance for everyone in Idaho’s Snake River Valley at the Idaho Wine Run. Over the course of two days, runners can choose from a marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, and half-mile fun run for kids. Starting atop “Winery Hill” with views of orchards, vineyards, and the majestic Snake River, marathoners and half-marathoners head to tranquil Lake Lowell along a combination of gravel and paved roads, facing three challenging climbs on the hilly 10K, half, and marathon courses. After pounding the pavement, runners can pound grapes from 15 local vintners while listening to a live concert and take home their wine glass from the Bacchanalian bash.
Harvest Wine Run
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Rhode Island may not be synonymous with the drink of Dionysus, but the Coastal Wine Trail of southeastern New England features nine vineyards. Among them, Newport Vineyards hosts the Harvest Wine Run, an afternoon trail race through conservation land and amongst grapevines at their harvest peak. After the approximately 4-mile race, runners feast on a BBQ dinner and sip spirits in the vineyard to the sounds of live music. Many also check out nearby Newport, where historic Gilded Age mansions once owned by the Vanderbilts and Astors, America’s Cup yachts, polo fields, and ocean beaches make the area a popular destination.
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Photo: Global Click Photography
Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon
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Drink until dawn at the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Florida. Starting at 10 p.m., runners tour Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom before finishing at Epcot, where they toast the night with a complimentary beer or soda. But the real draw is the private Finish Line Party at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, a 53-day feast that features more than 300 wines. Race registration includes a party ticket and $10 gift card to spend on drinks and tapas-sized tastes from around the world. Pop the cork on more than 50 wines from 17 countries and five U.S. states, including local wine made from Florida Key limes. Disney characters, Epcot attractions like Spaceship Earth, live music performances, and deejays keep the party thumping until 4 a.m. just for runners and their friends.