Wine Glass Marathon, Corning, N.Y.
When doing a wine country race, it’s debatable if actually having wine on course along with sports drink is a good idea. My preference has always been to leave the adult refreshments until after the race, and while running, focus on enjoying the fresh air, the surroundings and maybe a splash or two of non-alcoholic f luid, if need be. Besides, wine stains are slightly more challenging to get out of a race shirt than Gatorade.
The Wineglass Marathon weekend in Corning, N.Y., opts to let you explore the region’s viticulture on your own. Instead, the focus is on delivering a high quality event, using Corning, one of the most important and interesting cities in the Finger Lakes region, as the hub for race weekend. Everything from race kit pickup (and an impressive expo for a mid-sized race, all at the city’s extraordinary glass museum) to the crowd-lined main street finishing chute reveals that the organizers put quality first.
This attention to every detail was honed over a nearly 40-year period, making the Wineglass Marathon weekend on of the oldest and most celebrated fixtures in the Northeast U.S. Speed demons love this course because the autumn weather is usually perfect for running fast. And the course is a gentle point-to-point; perfect for running a PB or Boston Marathon qualifying time (as more than a third of the marathon finishers do each year at this race).
Race weekend is capped at about 3,000 participants across all events in order to provide all runners with a positive experience. On race morning, all runners are shuttled either 42.2k or 21.1k out from the finishing area in Corning. It’s like a mini Boston or New York, riding a school bus before dawn and being deposited at a high school before the start. The race takes over a stretch of country road, and if you warm up by running a few hundred metres in either direction, the cows and horses from the surrounding farms wander to their properties’ edge to give you chortles of encouragement. The course passes through a few townships with a surprising amount of local crowd support, again probably due to the race’s long standing and good reputation. The marathon follows the half course in the end, and both events finish right in the heart of downtown Corning to hundreds of spectators lining either side of historic Market Street. In the finishing chute, runners are treated to basically a full buffet of options, as well as massages, a hang-out area if you need to wait for a family member and, of course, the finisher’s medal. The bling is uniquely fitting: an all-glass talisman, which goes well with the engraved wine glass and mini bottle of bubbly you’ll find in your race kit. All these little details make for a premium and unforgettable getaway weekend in one of the prettiest parts of the U.S., particularly as the leaves change colour.