Words & Photos: Chris Hitchcock
The Western Cape is renowned for both its world-class wine production, as well as for being the outdoor adventure playground of many of its inhabitants and visitors. What better way to combine these two things than catering to its fun loving residents by staging a combination trail run and wine tasting trip - the Way2Wine.
Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock
New events company, Raw Events, got together with six well known and award-winning wine farms in the Bottelary Hills area of Stellenbosch, to stage such a race on Saturday, 9 November. In all honesty, calling it a race is a misnomer, as most people were in fancy dress, no one was keeping track of the times, and the only prize on offer was to win your own weight in wine for the best dressed team.
Entrants carried their credit cards with them on the route and any wine they liked could be purchased on the spot and was delivered to the finish venue in time for them to take it home with them.
The route, at just on 12 km long, wasn’t a walk in the park though, with lots of altitude gain and the mercury hitting an early summer high of just under 30 degrees by midday. Starting and finishing at Hazendal, groups of ‘athletes’ left in start waves every 20 minutes, with the first two stops at Kaapzicht and Mooiplaas. Having performed an extensive tasting of these two establishments' wares, supplemented by complimentary cheese and strawberries, spirits were understandably high as competitors left for stop three.
As the temperature kept rising, enthusiasm among the racers started to wane, and the big climb up to the next stop at Fort Simon Wine Farm caught out many of the less-prepared runners. Luckily, Fort Simon is styled after a castle and has a large swimming pool in the form of a faux moat surrounding the entrance, and many teams took full advantage of this water feature. In fact, some were still sitting in the shade with their feet in the cool water many hours after the leading group had finished and gone home. But this bunch would not suffer the pro athlete’s disappointment of failing to win, for them it was a case of, "Pass another glass of Sauvignon and the plate of Brie please, waiter."
Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock
The final two farms along the route, Goede Hoop and Groenland, had the distinct advantage of being at the bottom of the hill, giving mental as well as physical solace to those who had failed to pace themselves in either of the two essential event disciplines of running or drinking. Not that people were roaring drunk, it’s just that some of them had slipped from a mental state of ‘competitive’ to ‘very sociable’, and it was becoming more and more obvious that running was no longer their prime focus. But they did apply themselves to the task at hand and buckled down to register a well-deserved finish.
As an event, Way2Wine can be classified as a huge success and a feather in the caps of both the organisers and participating wine farms. From a promotional point of view, there is no doubt that the farms have benefited. The down side from a competitor's point of view is that next year, the event is highly likely to be many times oversubscribed.
For more information on the event, visit www.raw-promo.co.za/rawevents/rehome.html