Not long after we moved to Spain I heard about the Sherry Marathon in Jerez de la Frontera and knew I had to take part. A run around the vineyards with the chance to sample local delicacies and partake of a sherry or two en route – I’ll drink to that!
The history of the Sherry Marathon
The Sherry Marathon is a recent addition to the race calendar, and only took place for the first time in 2017. There’s also a half marathon (Sherry Media), and a 14km route (Sherry Promo) which take place on the same day – the Promo is particularly popular with those who prefer walking to running.
Along with Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria, Jerez is one of the points on the Sherry Triangle so, when it was decided to hold a marathon in the city, much was made of the uniqueness of the route which takes in Jerez’s beautiful old town as well as the stunning countryside which surrounds it.
To date, the full marathon route has started and finished in the city centre near to the Alcazar while the half marathon has started at the Gonzales Byass vineyard on the outskirts of Jerez.
However, the start lines are moving in 2021 and runners in the full and half marathons will be leaving from the Fundación Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (the Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Art) on Avenida Duque de Abrantes close to the historic heart of Jerez.
Despite the change, the new route will still involve running through some of the many vineyards that surround Jerez before turning back towards the city, heading through one of the largest bodegas, and finishing at the Alameda Vieja in front of the Alcazar.
As you’d expect, the terrain in the vineyards is uneven so if, like me, you haven’t done any cross country running since school, you might want to get off road for some of your training runs.
Be warned too that the vineyards are pretty hilly so some hill training will definitely come in handy. Let’s just say, in my case, quite a lot of walking was involved on the uphill sections!
This is also not a race for chasing a personal best – apart from the temptation to stop for a snack and a wee tipple, there are just too many photo opportunities along the way to act as a distraction (which, for me, were also the ideal chance to get my breath back).
How to enter
Compared to some races the Sherry Marathon is excellent value – the entry fee for the 2021 half marathon is just €22 (for the full marathon it’s €35 and the promo is €15). Apart from registration for the run itself, in previous years this has included all refreshments during and after the race, a goodie bag with race t-shirt, and a commemorative sherry glass at the finish line (or a medal if you tackle the full course).
Talking of the finish line, this is one race where Mark (who’s much faster than me) doesn’t mind hanging around to wait for me to finish, as there are tents set up with food and drink for all finishers. It’s great to be able to wander from stall to stall to get your finisher’s glass topped up – how many other races are there where sherry tasting is included?
Race numbers are collected the evening before the run from Consejo Regulador de la D.O. “Jerez Xerez Sherry” on Avenida Alcalde Alvaro Domecq 2. If this changes for 2021 you’ll be notified in one of the pre-race e-mails.
You’ll need to take some form of ID with you to collect your bib and, as well as your number, you’ll also receive a goodie bag containing a race t-shirt.
Although there are plenty of refreshment stands around the course you’ll need to take a water bottle with you for refills – and don’t forget your sunscreen!
The organisers also put on various activities over the weekend including guided tours of the vineyards, sherry tasting sessions and flamenco shows.
If you want to arrange your own activities Get Your Guide has plenty of options for you to consider.
Where to stay
On our first visit we stayed at Hotel Bellas Artes which is right across the road from the Cathedral and has great views from its rooftop.
On our next trip we stayed further out of town in Hipotels Sherry Park. It’s a modern hotel with lovely grounds, including a pool, and is only a short walk to the historic centre. This will probably be our choice for 2021 as it’s also close to the new start line.
The organisers have also partnered with Ibis hotels and Hotel Tryp offering a discount to runners. Both hotels are within easy walking distance of both the start and finish lines and offer a special breakfast for runners as well as a late checkout.
Entries for the 2021 race (which will be taking place on Sunday 25th April) are open now until 18th April. If you need any more convincing that it’s a great event to be a part of just take a look at the photo galleries from previous years and maybe I’ll see you on the start line!