This was my second year running this event. Like last year, I was invited by Destination Races as a guest blogger to experience it and got my running buddy Justin to tag along. Our first stop was the race expo at the Wilson Creek Winery.
There were several vendor booths set up with product samples and special expo priced products to purchase. Our goody bag was a nice nylon drawstring bag with several food samples and a bamboo performance technology shirt. Since this was a smaller scale race than I normally run, there were no long lines to wait in. The race staff was friendly and helpful and eager to help with any questions. It was easy to get to and from the expo, with only a little Friday afternoon traffic. Wilson Creek Winery is located on Rancho California Road in Temecula, home to several wineries, resorts and spas making it the perfect location for a destination race!
Justin and his wife made a weekend out of it enjoying the food and wine tasting. I, on the other hand, am a non-drinker but still thoroughly enjoyed the winery experience which included the food, shopping and spectacular views.
Race day was a clear morning with cool temperatures in the 55-60 degrees. We were a bit cool at the start but it quickly warmed up once we got going. There was a light breeze without too much wind resistance. The course was a bit difficult, due to the 6.5-mile hill climb at mile 4 and it ended at mile 10, then we had a nice downhill to the finish. I noticed the hill mainly between mile 8-10 at it’s steepest point. Living is Southern California, I do a lot of hill running, but this race was still a challenge even for the hill-seeker!
The views of the rows and rows of grapevines were spectacular as we ran past winery after winery. The trees were changing colors, and I was able to stop and capture photos of some of the reds, oranges, and gold leaves in the trees which is a rare fall treat for us locals.
There weren’t very many spectators out, only a few here and there, but when we passed by some horse stables, some of the horses turned to watch us run by. I couldn’t help but wonder what they thought of all the runners.
The finish line was right in the middle of a vineyard, I mean we were literally running in the dirt and surrounded by rows and rows of vines. It was pretty spectacular to finish in the vineyard!
We received our medal, which was an all in one bottle stopper, opener, corkscrew, which was very heavy! Then they handed out a nice bag with some finish line goodies and a can of water. Yes, it was a nice large can of ice cold water with a twist off cap; too cool!
We had to walk down to the finish line expo, which was at the same location as the race expo the day before. There were all the same vendor tents but also some wine tasting and live music. Once we arrived, we were given our Destination Races wine glass that we could have engraved.
So all in all, this event has become one of my favorites. One that I look forward to now each year.
The race by the numbers:
The remaining number made up the Female Relay and a Mixed Relay runners