Tucked away in the beautiful Niagara region of southern Ontario is the Twenty Valley area, which this past weekend hosted the second Twenty Valley wine run. The feature event is the half marathon, starting from the grounds of the Peninsula Ridge winery, and ending up in the small village of Jordan. Since I like wine and I love running, this seemed a natural.
The weather was looking not too great for the race, which begins at the late hour of 3:15, as it started out very warm and muggy, but by race time the sun was obscured, the temperature dropped, and we had significant rain from about the 15k point to the end. Turned out almost ideal, actually.
There were 147 male and 197 female runners. The idea is to savour some of the many excellent Ontario wines produced in this fertile area, that has established a world-class reputation for good wine in recent decades. Seven or eight wineries had tables set up along the route, where runners could sample a small plastic cup of their wine. Much as the idea appeals as a marketing ploy, relatively few runners seemed to take advantage of this, and I opted to wait until the race was over before imbibing. I did have a very small glass of rosee at the start, where I found myself with well over an hour to kill.
The race was well-organized, and wound its way through rural and urban areas, all on paved roads, with some hills, including some significant ones at the 14 k and beyond stages. There were plenty of water stations with enthusiastic volunteers.
Perhaps the nicest feature is the end of race street party in Jordan village, where several tents were set up to provide a wide variety of wines and some great food. It's not free, but reasonably priced for the amount and quality. My wife and I had bison burgers, flank steak on a bun, and several four ounce glasses of wine. There were quiches as well. The Twenty Valley tourist promotion group also sold tuques and nice wine glasses, which we bought. There was a live jazz group entertaining us for much of the time, and the rain thankfully stopped for most of the party.
Oh, the results. The winning male time was about 1:11, and the female was 1:32 . I finished in 2:04, a bit slower than hoped, but the hills did slow me down, although I technically ran the entire course non-stop. I did come first in my age group, but hasten to add that the only other male in my group was far behind me, which suggests he was more of a walker than runner. However, it still garnered a bottle of Cave Spring 2007 Gamay VQA, whch I had no moral dilemma in accepting.
I must add that we stayed at the Atherton Bed and Breakfast in nearby Vineland, and Pat and Tom Atherton were excellent hosts. Aside from the beautiful accommodations, overlooking lush orchards, and great breakfasts they were incredibly helpful, in driving me to the race bus start point and then driving us home afterwards, so there were no issues with having to drive our car after several glases of wine. If you ever decide to do this race, check out Atherton House at athertonhousebb.com and tell them Bill sent you. I am doing this blog early Sunday morning, looking out on the fruit orchards, and listening to the birds, the best alarm clock of all.
All in all, a great race, a fun environment, and it was also a fundraiser for a couple of charities. Well worth a weekend.
We will probably come back to do this event again next year.