On 9 September, Holly Clibbon ran the Medoc Marathon for Ataxia UK – a race that takes runners through the vineyards of Bordeaux and offers unique refreshments along the way! Amanda, Holly’s mother and her inspiration for running the marathon, tells us all about it.

We arrived in Bordeaux on Friday 8 September, the night before the marathon, to meet our French friends, our son and his girlfriend. Holly, my daughter and our marathon runner, arrived earlier in the day to take part in a wine and pasta pre-marathon party at a local Chateau, held by the marathon organisers. We thought we had lost her at one stage when she didn’t come back to our accommodation, but she’d fallen asleep on the bus home and missed her stop, finally arriving just past midnight! We all decided you can only do things like that and still run a marathon the next day when you’re 24!

On the morning of the marathon, Holly got a 6am shuttle bus ran by the marathon organisers. The weather was a fairly cool 19 degrees, initially; it rained lightly at times and thankfully didn’t get any hotter than 24. Some years during the marathon it has reached 30!

Seeing the stars!

We got the 7.30am train and shared a carriage with David Bowie, several Freddie Mercurys in skirts (‘I want to break free’), Wham, The Beatles in Sergeant Pepper outfits (we saw them later on the marathon course, and they’d lost Ringo) and Kiss – looking very scary, along with lots of people in wigs, feathers and sequins. It was such a fun atmosphere, although some people had obviously enjoyed the party and wine too much the night before!

We went to the start line to watch all the runners begin the marathon – it was such a sight – unlike any race I had ever seen. There were 8,500 racers, mostly in fancy dress: it’s compulsory with a different theme each year, unless you get approval like Holly did from the organisers. An Eiffel tower even went past and we spoke to a man at the airport who moaned that the Eiffel Tower had beaten him!

The finish line

We met Holly just under halfway at one of the chateaux serving food, water and of course, wine. Some chateaux served oysters, fois gras, cheese and steak! Not a protein drink or mars bar in sight! We then had lunch and wine and walked to see Holly finish. When we saw her coming to the finish line, everyone thought it would be a good idea for me to run the final 200m red carpet with her. It was so difficult running as my legs don’t work like they used to and I walk twice each day. Holly said at the weekend she had to watch the organiser’s video footage of the end to make sure I didn’t beat her! 

What an experience, I was so proud of Holly as this was her first marathon, but also because she raised so much sponsorship. You can see her Just Giving page that she raised over £2,000. She says she would do it again as it was such a fun atmosphere – but next time in fancy dress!