A Wine Race to Remember (Part I)


Run a half marathon relay. Check.
I don’t think I could have picked a better event to do with J than one set on the rolling hills of the Okanagan Valley with a view of the majestic Okanagan Lake, and there’s wine involved—the perfect reward after a long run.


A couple of months ago when ModCraft Studio first approached me about covering the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon, the only one of their races in Canada so far, my first thought was: No way. I’m not ready for this. [I had the option of going to just the events, but what’s the fun in that?] Then I reconsidered. I was already making progress with my running after a long break due to injury and there’s a two-person relay for the BC race, a more realistic and safer choice given our time to train, so we just went for it. It’s just the right amount of crazy. J is the much stronger runner and could take the longer half. The wine drinking is the easy part. [Or so, I thought.]

We followed this training plan [PDF download if you’re interested] since we were essentially running more or less 10K. We ran together during most of the first two weeks of training and then down to once week so we can both settle into our own comfortable pace. It wasn’t easy, but it was very doable.


Six weeks later and we were on our way to Kelowna. The drive was beautiful, as warm summer days in British Columbia go. Puffy white clouds scattered across the azure skies kept us company on the four-hour drive from Vancouver.

We arrived just in time for the Welcome Reception at Quail’s Gate Winery.


This is how to start a race weekend! We had the chance to meet and chat with the organizers and fellow runners over delicious appetizer bites, wine and a breathtaking view.


The next day we picked up our race packet at the Fresh Air Expo and attended the race orientation seminar presented by race director Matt Dockstader, who also happens to be the founder and president of Destination Races. We got the play-by-play of the course and tips for the run. The vibe in the room was relaxed and everyone was excited for the next day’s race.

Afterwards, we drove through the driveable portion of the course starting from The Vibrant Vine and did some wine tasting on along the way.


From the start, runners meander through roads passing by orchards and vineyards, descending the hills with a mix of uphill portions. The last third of the race consists of flat terrain through park trails and along the water, and off to a finish at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort’s waterfront.

During the course of our winery tour afternoon, it was hard just to do just tasting and not a lot of drinking…we still did have a race to run the next day. There are so many good wines!


As far as pre-race day goes, this was pretty sweet. I might not want to run a non-destination race anymore. Of course, the real test is the race day itself…

Part II coming next.