Марафон Силы и Красоты

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29 января, 09:32591

Runner's World: I Ran a 10K Through the World’s Largest Wine Cellar


At the starting line, I stamped my feet in the snow and repeated this mantra: ‘There’ll be hot wine at the end.’ The promise of plentiful wine, local color, and a unique experience had drawn me to travel on a bitingly cold, gray January weekend to Moldova, one of the least-visited countries in Europe. I was running the Mileștii Mici Wine Run, a 10k race through the world's largest wine cellar. With a total 125 miles of underground passages, there’s plenty of room to stage an ultra here; the 10K Wine Run explores a mere fraction of the tunnels.

Conditions during the race can swing from an icy sub-zero to a balmy 57 degrees, so that morning I dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, arm warmers, a balaclava, and gloves before boarding the race bus in front of the State Circus, a hulking Soviet modernist landmark on the dreary industrial outskirts of the capital city of Chişinău. During the 10-mile drive to the Mileștii Mici winery, the aging bus slid around on the icy roads, its fogged-up windows obscuring the landscape into vague, white-covered shapes.

Runners board busses bound for the winery.

Wine Run volunteers wear traditional costumes and dance with runners to keep them warm.

Runners warm up before the race.

Before and after the race, wine is served.

Outside the castle-like walls of the winery, men chopped wood and lit fires, while young locals in traditional dress spun arm-in-arm to energetic Eastern European pop music to keep the runners entertained (and themselves warm). I jogged a few lengths up and down a snowy road before lining up with the 350 other participants, eager to start moving. Just after the starting gun fired, I felt something cold and wet hit me. I thought the spectators had tossed snow at us, until the scent of wine reached my nose. Moments after that celebratory spray, we entered the tunnels. Asphalt gave way to muddy cobblestones, mounds of dust, and uneven dirt track—much of it dimly lit. 

A man dressed as King Stephan, a national hero and historical figure, poses for photos in front of a map of the race course.

In addition to the underground cellar, the race has two outdoor segments .

The squiggly-lined map we were given in our race packs hardly did justice to the convoluted, labyrinthine route, which twisted, turned, and doubled back on itself over and over. I quickly lost all sense of whether I’d been down a particular corridor before or not, or if the people running towards me on the opposite side of the tape divider were ahead of or behind me in the race.

With its varied terrain, 85 to 95 percent humidity in the cellars (it keeps the wine corks from drying out) and undulating course—the tunnels go as deep as 280 feet and there are two outside segments, including a snowy climb to a water stop at the top of a hill—the Wine Run isn’t a PR machine. It is, however, ideal for letting go of pace and running by feel. GPS is useless underground, and there aren't any mile markers along the route, adding to the delirious disorientation.

Wooden barrels hold locally produced wine as it ages.

Volunteers in traditional dress sing and dance, cheering on runners.

All runners are required to have a headlamp to participate in the race.

Music and cheering echoed through the tunnels as I ran past some of the 1.5 million bottles of wine stored in the cellars, plus huge oak wine barrels and metal tanks, some so rusted they looked like barnacle-encrusted relics retrieved from the bottom of the sea. Around one corner, a troupe of babushkas—older women in headscarves—clapped and sang to traditional fiddle and accordion music. At another, young women in embroidered vests and long layered skirts waved flowers and doled out high fives. In front of a lit-up subterranean waterfall, dancers twirled in flamenco-style dresses.

Participants pose with "King Stephan" and receive medals and wine.

After finishing, participants eat snacks and receive a celebratory glass of wine.

Upon reentering the tunnels after the second outdoor segment, I started to run harder. As my legs began to burn, I wondered if I’d kicked it in too soon—I estimated there was about 4km left, but there was no way to know for sure, and the out-and-backs in the dark cellars seemed to go on endlessly. Suddenly, I rounded a corner and was met with a sea of glimmering gold. The finish line was in sight, and beyond it, a banquet table surrounded by wine-drinking runners cloaked in gold foil blankets, still crowned with their head torches, descending on the pastry-laden buffet like ravenous medieval kings.

The 2020 Mileștii Mici Wine Run will take place on February 9.

Source: runnersworld.com

источник runnersworld.com
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