VIDEO: France to host ‘world’s booziest marathon’ on Saturday

This Saturday thousands of people will guzzle lots of wine in the Bordeaux region - while running a marathon. Here's what you need to know about the Marathon du Medoc.

VIDEO: France to host 'world's booziest marathon' on Saturday
Photo: Marathon du Medoc

Some 8,500 runners from all over the world will gather on the banks of the Gironde estuary in the south west of France on Saturday for an event that has become an institution in the French cultural and even sporting calendar.

The Marathon du Medoc will see runners (or perhaps walkers is more appropriate for many participants) run 26 miles or 42.2km through the vineyards and chateaux of the famous Medoc wine region.

Apart from the distance that will be covered this is no ordinary marathon.

For a start participants will get to sample fine wines at 22 drinks stations around the case. They can also replenish their energy by munching on some of the 18,000 oysters or 200 kg of entrecôte steak that will be on offer.

And they can take in the splendor of 53 different chateaux and listen to the tunes of over 50 orchestras.

The Medoc region's world-famous chateaux – include Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Latour, all open their grounds and cellars to offer runners some of the world's most respected wines

The first Marathon du Medoc was held in 1984 and since then it has proved a roaring success although organisers have resisted calls to raise the maximum number of runners in order to maintain its authenticity.

It probably has one of the slowest average times of all the marathons with most runners aiming to get over the line in six hours.

The race, if it can be called one, begins in the town of Pauillac at 9.30am on Saturday and yes it's too late to sign up.

These videos give you a flavour of the experience.




France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.