This was Geoffrey’s 12th marathon and his fastest so he’s over the moon! Over to him then…
17th February came the dreaded news that the 2020 Tokyo Marathon (where I had secured a much converted entry) was cancelled for the non-elite 38,000 runners who had all trained for months for the event scheduled for 1st March. This was not totally unexpected (which was of little consolation) but there was no denying the fact that months of training may no longer be able to be put to the test.
Our kiwi contingent then scouted around frantically for an alternative event and Rebecca, found a small marathon event in Napa County – amongst California ‘s fine rural Wine Country. This was perfect – Elleysen and I both love San Francisco (Napa is just 90 mins drive away) and I had always wanted to visit Napa as I had always heard how beautiful it was. Of course, at only 2,000 runners it was a far cry from Tokyo, but smaller events have their own unique charms. Napa is also a USATF-certified marathon course which meant it was a Boston Marathon qualifier. So going was a no-brainer in the end
The course runs through 500 hillside vineyards following the famed Silverado Trail from Calistoga to Napa. It’s stunning scenery and some of the wineries are magnificent. The trail has a number of gentle hills in a relaxing rural environment – a start contrast to the big city marathons like New York or Tokyo. But there’s no congestion and well organised so together with cool overcast conditions (6-13°C), a slight tail wind and a 75m net downhill from start to finish it was perfect for a fast time.
I ran a PB (personal best) which was also a qualifying time for Boston next year! Although this was my 12th marathon I still learnt an awful lot about the relationship between course conditions and nutrition, race preparation and strategy. However I don’t wish to dwell on the event as I want to talk about the charms of Napa…
After the marathon our kiwi contingent (we were the only NZ’ers in the field!) celebrated at Ristorante Allegria, probably Napa’s top Italian restaurant. Napa township is best described as country-casual turned cosmopolitan. It is Napa Valley’s cultural heart with many small interesting shops, markets and of course, wine-tasting rooms! We had originally thought of joining a wine-tasting tour up the valley but then learnt that by-laws prohibit the wineries serving food o we decided on the convenience of town. The shopping is small and quaint but if you’re into more serious premium shopping there’s the small Napa Premium Outlet or the absolutely huge outlet at nearby Vacaville.
All in all it was a perfect trip which was pretty amazing considering the short time we had to plan. I suspect a bit of luck played a part in the success of the trip but this is just what makes trips like this even more alluring. If you would like more information about this destination please do not hesitate to contact me.