An 18km running and wine tasting event – unique and not to be missed!
- Difficulty: Easy
- Terrain: wide variety: road, gravel path, sandy dirt in vineyards, some uneven and sloped ground
- Length: 18km
- Flow: a few roads to cross with the help of volunteers
- Scenery: wine country, vineyards, wineries
- Safety Issues: poison ivy if you go off the trail near the river (like to pee!)
- Bathrooms: port-o-pottys at various wineries
- Drinking water: yes at every winery stop
- Transit Access: shuttles provided from Oliver and Osoyoos
- Parking: n/a
- Night Access: n/a
- Special Features: A unique wine tasting walk and or run
- Nearby Attractions: wineries!
I was really excited to win a pair of tickets in the Half Corked lottery this year. I was very happy I had the opportunity to buy two tickets so I could invite a friend and have someone to share this special weekend with. My friend Kazia agreed to join me for a super special girls weekend! I was so excited!
The event is an 18km route that stopped at 15 wineries between Osoyoos and Oliver, BC. These towns are about a 4 hours drive east of Vancouver in the southern Okanagan valley close to the US border. Because the event involves drinking most people spend the night in one of the many hotels in the area and use the shuttles provides by the event to get back and forth. It is a good idea to book a hotel very early as they all fill up for the event weekend!
We arrived at the mandatory registration the evening before and were assigned to a start wave. We were in the third and last wave with a very civilized start time of 9:10am so we didn’t even have to wake up early to catch our shuttle at 8:50. At registration we were given our goodie bag which included a lot of winery coupons and a bottle of red wine that was a special Half Corked blend of several local wineries. I am not a huge fan a blended wine but the bottle was a nice touch. We slept well and walked over to the shuttle in the morning. The weather was perfect: about 16C and overcast. Some people told us that the previous year it had been more like 30C and super hot, so we felt pretty lucky! At the shuttle stop, we could see that lots of people were dressed up. We made a mental note to consider costumes or matching outfits for future years!
As each shuttle filled the sent it off and began filling the next one. So we didn’t have to wait long to be off to our first winery stop and the start of the race at Burrowing Owl, one of my personal favourites! We were greeted by staff who offered us our first tasting, the well know Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris, which is also one of my favourites. It was only 9am but what the heck! So we toasted and we drank! We admired costumes and got ready for the event to begin.
Not too long later they sent us out to the starting corral and called off our start. The event is not timed and it was easy to see why. First the distance is odd: 18km. Second, there are a lot of stops! Third, it became apparent you couldn’t run all the time even if you wanted to: the terrain was sometimes difficult (generally for short distances though) and sometimes so narrow you couldn’t pass anybody. But that quickly became part of the charm of this well organized fun event. You don’t need to run every km. You don’t need to worry about time. You can just enjoy the wine, the food, the costumes and the amazing scenery.
The scenery really was outstanding: from incredible valley views, to a river trail, to running right inside the vineyards surrounded by grapes or cherry trees.
The costumes were really amazing too! There were some great group costumes. And lots of them were wine themed. There were prizes for costumes at the end party.
I was worried I would drink too much, but it worked out well. Lots of the wineries provided food with their wine samples. From simple hors d’oeuvres to a little buffet! There was water at every stop, so you could be sure to stay well hydrated in between wine samples. Also, the slow pace spaced out the wine samples.
Each winery had their own style and they made that clear with their presentation. From traditional European influenced food and wine, to a little cowboy theme with pork and beans to accompany a spiced wine sample.
When we finally finished I was almost sad. It had been so much fun! Even though we had walked a lot and some people even walked the whole thing, everyone ran the last 500m and we were all greeted with enthusiasm by waiting volunteers at the finish line. We were given a souvenir wine glass and 8 wine tasted coupons. We also had a lunch ticket. Lunch was the only disappointing part of the event in my opinion: a sorry little sandwich, salad and cookie. However, I had eaten so many great snacks during the stops on the way that I didn’t even care.
The wine tasting coupons could be traded for samples of a variety of wines at a table with a bunch of wineries that had not been part of the route we had just done. There were some interesting sangrias and a wonderful icy cold grapefruit wine drink too. This is when the really drinking began, because now we were moving and people could try one after another. You could even buy more tasting coupons if you wished.
We finally stumbled onto the shuttle back toward our hotel, finally feeling the alcohol but still feeling great. The shuttle filled up with others in a similar state and it soon became a little party on board! Luckily our bus driver was a good sport. When one guy shouted that we needed to stop to buy some wine and gave her a little dance to try to entice her and then offered to buy her a bottle… she could have thrown him off the bus, but he stopped just shy and taking it too far, and with good humor and much to our surprise she did stop and gave us 10 minutes to buy some wine! We were actually pretty happy about that because there had been no opportunity to buy wine from any of the wineries involved in the event and none of us were in a state to drive back that day! And true to his word, the guy did buy her a bottle of wine.
We stumbled back to our hotel, happy and worn out from 6 hours of drinking, running, and fun! It was 3pm! What a day!
The only negative of the whole weekend was the lack of food in Osoyoos where we stayed. There weren’t very many restaurants, the ones that were there aren’t very good, and they close very early! We promised to research some better food options for next year, maybe dinner at one of the winery restaurants even if we have to taxi back up there.
We are already planning next year. They have an early bird lottery if you ran the last year, and we were told last year, everybody just got in. So, that’s our plan: early bird lottery, early hotel reservations, costumes, and after event dinner reservations. This is an event plan to do again!
If you like wine and enjoy wine tasting, and can run or even walk 18km, this is an event worth travelling for, and experiencing at least once!