Marathon madness

(by Peter Richards MW & Susie Barrie MW)

Michael-Cox-1951-2014Four hours, 55 minutes, 11 loo stops (don’t ask), 30 degrees centigrade, one glass at Lafite and the best ice cream of our lives.

These were the headline numbers from our Médoc Marathon. But numbers never tell the whole story – the human story.

This endeavour was all about Michael Cox. Celebrating our dear friend, who died too soon, was why we ran the marathon. ‘Team Cox’ was emblazoned on our running shirts; we all had a photo of Michael – striking a typically flamboyant pose, poignant in black and white – that went the course with us.

Struggling in the dusty heat and intense pain of the last few miles brought to mind Michael’s struggles in the final weeks of his life. He bore this with stoicism and a wry smile, never failing to consider others as much as himself. That particular realisation was both fortifying and humbling in those dark moments of the race. Especially when the course extended beyond the official 42.1 kilometres.

L-R: Richard Avery, Lynne Cox, Susie Barrie, Alvaro Arriagada, David Cox, Petter Richards, Greg Sherwood, Andres Izquierdo, Eduardo Chadwick

L-R: Richard Avery, Lynne Cox, Susie Barrie, Alvaro Arriagada, David Cox, Petter Richards, Greg Sherwood, Andres Izquierdo, Eduardo Chadwick

We like to think Michael would have looked on our undertaking with both amused bafflement and encouragement. ‘What were you thinking?’ he might have quipped, while strapping on his trainers.

Well, Michael, I hope we did you proud. All 11 Team Cox members who started the race finished the race, pretty much all in the top third of the field. We raised a relieved and trembling wine glass to you at dinner. Your twin David and wife Lynne were the bedrock of the team, the former a most capable campaign manager, the latter putting in a typically brilliant running performance. (The one team member missing was Errázuriz winemaker Francisco Baettig, who was taken seriously ill before the marathon and had to be flown back to Chile via the emergency room at Bordeaux hospital. Francisco – we wish you well.)

Most importantly of all, we had fun. Some of us indulged in the food and wine round the marathon route. While we didn’t manage to source the comedy team thongs for the fancy dress theme, David’s Union Jack suit made up for all of that. And there was plenty of wine drunk and toasts made over the weekend.

As for impressions of the run, it’s a bit of a blur. The day dawned with crisp white streaks across an ominously blue sky. Mist hung in the low fields. We watched the sun crown the horizon in full-blooded blaze as we drove to Pauillac. The start area was pandemonium – ticker tape and fireworks billowing over a chaotic scene featuring Brazilian samba dancers and the biggest fancy dress party in the world. On the course, Venetian masks and running gels were trampled into the limestone dust of manicured drives. The Pauillac plateau has never seemed as vast, sun-beaten and indifferent. Grapes hung lazily in the sun as a lurching column of runners passed by. Bacchus meets Olympus sponsored by Odor Eaters.

Thanks to the amazing support of many wonderful people and companies, we’ve raised a considerable sum (so far more than £17,000 and counting) for two good great causes: The Benevolent and the Vintners’ Foundation. We’d love to raise more. If anyone else would like to add to the pot, here’s the link to our JustGiving page:

Peter and Susie finishingSusie and I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to our fellow Team Cox members Alvaro Arriagada, Eduardo Chadwick, David Cox, Sally Cox, Lynne Cox, Richard Dare, Andres Izquierdo, Sebastian O’Keefe, Andrew Shaw, Greg Sherwood and Vicky Thompson.

Sincere thanks are also due to Château Brane-Cantenac, who kindly sponsored our places in the race and put most of the team up for the weekend. Maria Martinez-Ojeda: you are an utter star. Huge high-fives also to owner Henri Lurton, who put himself through considerable personal discomfort by running the marathon alongside us, having warmed to our cause. Wine has rarely tasted as sweet as the Charles Heidseick and Brane-Cantenac 2006 that we had the evening of the marathon. Thank you also to Lilian Sartorius and Château Langoa Barton, who donated further marathon places and a handsome sum to our charity chest.

Finally, and most importantly, thanks to all of you who have supported our cause in any way – be it by donating or with messages of support and encouragement. It all helped immensely. Every one of you is part of Team Cox.

Just make sure you remember that when Lynne and David launch plans for a sponsored danceathon next year…

(Thanks to Sally, David & Alvaro for the photos. Here’s a gallery of some images of the weekend:)