Tuesday, September 12, 2006

2006 Medoc Marathon Post Mortem

Myself and any number of people - including hundreds and hundreds of race participants - have been asking, "How could the Medoc Marathon organizers, with all their experience, screw up the water situation so badly on race day?"

The answer may lay in as simple an explanation as a strange change in water sponsors.

The Medoc Marathon switched from water supplied by a French company, Vittel - who supplied water in 500 ml bottles to Nestle - Aquarel - who supplied water in 1.5 liter bottles. This change, strangely enough, created a huge "bottle-neck" at the water stations on race day.

According to people I spoke with, in previous years, the Medoc Marathon organizers simply put out the smaller bottles of water - a near perfect size on a sizzling hot day - and let runners take them. Switching to the larger bottles meant runners or volunteers had to pour out water into glasses in order to drink. It was an organizational disaster. We never SAW any Medoc Marathon water station volunteers for the first two hours of the race. Maybe they were in hiding - maybe they had abandoned their posts. The first runners who arrived at the water stations simply took the larger bottles, leaving NO water available to the runners behind them. Incredibly, there are numerous accounts of the front runners pouring DRINKING water over their heads in order to cool off with NO thought given to the runners behind them.

I hope the Medoc organizers got paid a lot more money by Nestle than they did by Vittel. Hopefully that way they can subsidize my ticket to the Mecod next year to make up for the screw-ups this year! Nestle of course, is the same multi-national company which discourages new mothers in developing countries from breast-feeding so that Nestle can sell them over-priced baby formula that is significantly less healthy for newborn babies than breast milk. Gotta love capitalism and market economics at its finest... Funny how Medoc, which is designed to promote French wine, sold out a French water company... at least according to the locals I talked to...

What about the wine? Everyone has been asking me about the wine along the course...

Honestly, I don't even remember the wines I tasted on the course, and there were only a few. No more than six. Well, I remember Chateau Laffite Rothschilde and Chateau Mouton-Rothschilde. And a Haut something or other... But sadly enough, that's about it... No one is more disappointed than MOI! I had dreamed about this race for a couple of years, but race conditions prevailed and I tried to run the race as smartly as I know how. And with temperatures in the mid 90s, drinking wine was not part of my survival strategy!

We did try to compensate for our lack of wine consumption on the marathon course at the food fair "degustation" afterwards. The food and wine displays really were wonderful and I bought numerous bottles of wine, chocolate-covered hazelnuts and canned fois grais de canard - that's Donald Duck to you.

The organizers of the Medoc Marathon soon realized that the race conditions this past Saturday and the situation with the water on Race day had created an extraordinarly unusual set of circumstances. Usually, the cut-off time for presenting medals and the race package is six and a half hours, with a five minute grace period.

This year, when it came to the awarding of medals - the Medoc Marathion abandoned the 6:30 cut-off time. There was obviously profound embarassment over the water situation. We met runners from Denmark who had been given Finisher's medals and the finisher's package up to 45 minutes AFTER the "Official" cut-off time.

And yes, we are now officially on record as the hottest Medoc Marathon ever.

We made the history books. For better or worse!


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