The Sandalford Vineyard Half Marathon was run last Saturday at Sandalford Winery in the Swan Valley in Perth. It was the first event held at the Perth vineyard, with three previous races being held at the Sandalford Estate in Margaret River. For me it was a chance to run a race with my sister, which I was rather excited about given we hadn't done that before and rarely see each other these days with me living in Stockholm.
Sandalford Wines are a famous West Australian wine maker, having been established in the Swan Valley in 1840, the same time as the first European settlement in Perth. Holding these sorts of events is a clever way to get people out to the estate, and for participants it is an opportunity to take part in something a bit different - plus what other race gives you a bottle of wine just for entering?
After getting up at 4:45 am and driving from Perth we arrived at the vineyard just before 6 and I was pleasantly surprised by the colder summer morning (at least by Perth standards) and overcast conditions. Three years in Stockholm has definitely reduced my capacity for running in the heat. Although there were not that many people, going to the toilet was proving a bit challenging with limited porter loos available.
With that sorted we were briefed on the race and course, which involved laps around and through the vineyard, a mix of grass and trail running. There was a 5 km and 10 km race as well as the half marathon, so when it was explained that you would either run the loop once, twice or four times, we should have figured out that was going to leave us a touch short of a half marathon. Overall there were 292 people participating in the race, the majority of whom seemed to be running the half marathon.
My sister had asked if I would "pace" her, and after practising a couple of times we decided that 4:45 / km would be our target pace. We were running in a group with two of her friends, one of which she had trained with, and we decided to all run together. As they are both strong runners I knew my job as pacer would be to stop them running too fast at the beginning and then just for mental support later if needed. After a faster first km we settled into a rhythm, and were consistently running between 4:40 - 4:45 km for most of the race.
Although running laps can be a little mundane, the course itself was really beautiful, and was relatively flat, with some small undulating hills here and there. We ran through the vines, around the estate itself and along some trails around the outside of the property. The course was well marked with arrows and there were friendly volunteers to offer guidance, water, and words of encouragement.
As we approached the last lap my sister was pleasantly surprised to see that our family and her kids had arrived to watch us finish. Our final lap was our quickest and as we entered the last couple of kilometres we realised that my sister and her friend Emma were probably winning the women's category. Emma sprinted away during the last kilometre as I pushed my sister home for a very impressive 1:35, albeit on a course that was about 800 m short according to my Garmin.
After crossing the finish line we were given finishes medals, bananas, our free bottle of wine and had the opportunity to partake in some wine tasting. It was not really what I felt like doing at 8:30 am after running a half marathon but below you can see there were others who were happy rehydrating with a nice glass of white wine. We waited around for the ceremony so that Emma and Kristen could receive their prizes for first and second, with our other friend Deeds coming in third place for the women.
Overall the Perth Vine Runner half marathon at Sandalford Winery was a really nice community race, well organised and thoroughly enjoyable, with the only improvement for next year being be a better measuring stick for the course distance.
Next on the running calendar is a 10 km run in Cochin (India) with my girlfriend in 10 days time, stay tuned for that.