Wine Country Half Marathons

The finish line of the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon
The finish line of the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon | Source
A racer re-hydrates and celebrates with some wine after a wine country half marathon
A racer re-hydrates and celebrates with some wine after a wine country half marathon | Source

What makes a Wine Country half marathon?

Destination Races puts on wine country half marathon races that are great for first time half marathon runners and seasoned racers alike. Just think about the characteristics of wine country: The terrain tends to be relatively flat and the scenery is almost always gorgeous. If those two things don’t make 13.1 miles speed past, I don’t know what will!
Truly, if you run only one half marathon in your life, try one from Destination Races. They are well organized, and because the race is just a half marathon — there’s no full marathon or 10K runners in the mix — the day and the event are all about you, the half marathoner.
Destination Races’ Wine Country Half Marathons started with three half marathons in California. First up is the Santa Barbara Wine Country half marathon that goes from Santa Ynez, through Los Olivos and ends in Solvang; it runs on the Saturday of Mothers Day weekend every May. The Napa to Sonoma half marathon runs in July from Domaine Carneros winery to Sonoma’s town square, and the Healdsburg Half Marathon, in Sonoma County, starts at the Copolla winery and ends in a park, and it is always the Saturday of Halloween weekend, the day before the New York City Marathon.
These three wine country half marathon races have proved so popular, attracting thousands of runners and regularly selling out each year, that the organizers have added new half marathon races in other wine regions, including Oregon over Labor Day and Virginia in early June.
After sweating it for 13 miles, all of these events end with a party, complete with music and wine tasting. The atmosphere is celebratory and electric! Few half marathons are FUN as well as an accomplishment, yet that's exactly what a wine country half marathon is.

I have known many people who have completed a wine country half marathon, and everybody I've spoken to raves about how fun the event is.

Why to do a Wine Country Half Marathon

One of the great things about the Wine Country Half Marathons I have run (I’ve done Healdsburg and Santa Barbara) is that they are just as competitive as you want them to be. Some people are going for a personal record time, and these courses are easy enough to make that do-able. Others are just hoping to finish. The field of runners runs the gamut from beginners to very experienced half marathoners, and everyone has fun, guaranteed.
These are professional races. They use state of the art electronic timing equipment. There are water stations every 1.5 miles to 2 miles, and several of those stations feature an energy drink to replace electrolytes and give runners a boost. There’s a smallish Expo the day before where runners can try out new sports-related products. And every runner who completes the race walks away with a technical running shirt and a heavy duty medal, honoring the achievement of the race.
And if you are ready to start sipping wine as soon as you’ve wiped the sweat from your brow, then you can buy a commemorative wine glass and head to the wine tasting pavilion, sampling the fruits of much of the beauty you have just run past. Most of the wine available comes from the region through which you have just run, giving the glass of wine an extra sweetness to savor! And each race is in a tourist destination, so wine country half marathons attract runners from all over the country.

Friends congregate before the race begins
Friends congregate before the race begins | Source
Runners line up at the start line
Runners line up at the start line | Source
Runners in action
Runners in action | Source
MIlling in Solvang town square post race
MIlling in Solvang town square post race | Source
Volunteers set up massage tables
Volunteers set up massage tables | Source
Meeting up with friends and family, recounting the race
Meeting up with friends and family, recounting the race | Source
The wine tasting pavillion
The wine tasting pavillion | Source
A runner enjoys a cold adult beverage after the race
A runner enjoys a cold adult beverage after the race | Source
There's beer tasting, too!
There's beer tasting, too! | Source

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Comments 8 comments

Ren Chin profile image

Ren Chin 5 years ago

great pictures! why is your comment box above the pictures?


s.carver profile image

s.carver 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, and also thanks for pointing out that the comment box is in the wrong place! I've fixed that.


Ren Chin profile image

Ren Chin 5 years ago

Swilling wine and beer right after running a half marathon sounds like the type of fun that leads to gastrointestinal distress.


s.carver profile image

s.carver 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Not to mention dehydration!


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

Wow, your pictures really make clear why these are becoming so popular. What a setting! Some friends of ours ran the Maraton du Medoc last year and loved it (and got totally drunk doing it). Something closer, cheaper, and SHORTER would be something that might be worth exploring...


s.carver profile image

s.carver 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

The shorter is certainly a plus in my book - 26 miles scare me! - but running a race in France sounds pretty fantastic! Medoc could even get me to consider doing even longer long runs. In a pinch, though, subbing in a California wine country destination isn't bad at all!


Ren Chin profile image

Ren Chin 5 years ago

my favorite detail of your photos is the one that shows the gas prices!!! ...well into the $4 range. Might be cheaper to run to the race to drink than drive to the race to run :)


s.carver profile image

s.carver 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hahahaha. Maybe it's a marketing ploy by Destination Races!

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