I have a well-documented love/hate relationship with running and, although I’ve run both the London and New York marathons in my time, these days I tend to stick to shorter distances including my annual trip to Newcastle for the Great North Run.
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 fairly new to the race calendar, taking 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.
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.
The start lines are moving in 2020 and runners in the full and half marathons will be leaving from the Fundacion 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.
In previous years, 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.
Despite the change for 2020, the new route will still involve running through some of the many vineyards that surround the city before turning back towards the city, heading through one of the largest bodegas, and finishing at the Alameda Vieja. Talking of the finish line, my much faster partner doesn’t mind hanging around to wait for me at this race as there are tents set up with food and drink for all finishers.
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 it’s really good value – the entry fee for the 2020 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).
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 2020 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.
The organisers also put on various activities over the weekend including guided tours of the vineyards, sherry tasting sessions and flamenco shows.
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.
Entries for the 2020 race (which will be taking place on Sunday 19th April) are open now until 12th April. Maybe I’ll see you on the start line!