Review by Jon Chatty.
I’d not been to the Dedham Vale Vineyards before or tasted their wine but being a lover of vino and running when they combined the two it was too good of an opportunity to be missed. There was a 5km and 10km distance option with a wine stop at each kilometre. Naturally I selected the 10km option as the additional distance and wine seemed like a great idea. The wines came in sample sizes which was probably a good thing.
The vineyard is set up a slight hill with numerous surrounding fields and the registration was by a lake, near to the vines. There was a map of the route and I made a note that the 10km was two of the 5km course.
It was a slightly overcast morning which was a shame as the vines would have looked great in the sun. The start and finish was between two trees but I was unaware of which direction we would be setting off in so I positioned myself in the middle of the pack.
As we set off I did some weaving in and out of people to get nearer to the front as we headed down a grass trail away from the vines. Due to recent rain showers the track was damp with odd mud puddles, just how I like it. The runners thinned out fairly quickly and I found myself in the leading group. With the green trees and bushes either side of me I settled into my pace.
At the end of the trail we entered the road. There weren’t many cars around so I was able to enjoy the running and the views all around me. In the distance I could see a barrel set up. As I got closer a marshal welcomed me with a glass of refreshing wine ready to sample. There was also water available but to me this was a wine run so that what I would be drinking. I’m no connoisseur but to me it was a fruity sweet white wine.
Running swiftly on I realised I was in third place so I hurried across the path, across the field which was dry and flat and entered into a shaded trail path going down a slight hill. After heading over a little bridge the second wine stop had arrived. Once again it was cool and sweet which was good as the sun had now come out and it complemented it nicely.
I was still in third place but I seemed to be the only one stopping to drink the wine, the others were just running straight past which I didn’t really understand. Still, I enjoyed this rosé before heading off to sample the next one.
Stop thee was a red wine. It was slightly dry but pleasant and was good for the run as it wasn’t too over powering. The course then took us past some horses and I noticed this was the road I’d seen on arriving which rose up a slight hill back towards the vines grounds. I could see another marshal in the distance but didn’t notice any plastic wine glasses, realising this was the ‘water only’ stop I carried on towards the woodland trail. This was a nice shady break from the sun.
Exiting this area I arrived at the last wine stop of the first lap, this was a reserve red which, once again didn’t fail on taste. I was very pleased with this as I had enjoyed all the wines and wanted more, luckily I had another lap!
From here I headed along a river path. We weaved up and down the vines a few times before heading up the home stretch and out for the second lap.
I decided it was a sensible idea to take on water as well as wine at the first stop. As we entered a road section which again boasted some enjoyable views of the fields it was now dawning on me that a 10km with wine might be interesting as I was enjoying the wine a lot. Maybe this had something to do with what happened next as along with another runner I went the wrong way. After a short while I realised I didn’t recognise the route. By this point a marshal had driven out to catch us but we were already returning back.
At the next wine stop there was a smaller sample than before, which was a blessing as I had already drunk a good amount.
I really enjoyed the run on the second lap and I took in a lot more including some cows and a comical sign near one of the stops warning to ‘beware alcoholics’.
I could still taste the sweet fruity flavours of the wines as I came into the finishing straight and was awarded a medal that was engraved with the event name and date, which I thought this was a nice touch. In exchange for our race numbers we were also given a full glass of plonk to round off the event in a fitting way.
This race was held to raise money for Daisy (www.fordaisyanddipg.com) with many of the runners wearing yellow t-shirts for her which was good to see.
We were enjoying the musical entertainment and stalls when realising there was a junior race about to take place. We signed my son up and I set out on the one mile route through the vines with him. No wine on offer in this one! Lots of children took part making it through to the end for a sprint finish and their medal.
I would definitely run this event again even if the route and the wines were the same. It was great to take part in a quirky race, it keeps the fun in running. Great terrain, a nice route and lovely tasting wine. I will also add that I was not driving home. Please drink responsibly!