March 20, 2010. This is the second year I have run the annual Carneros Fire Department Vineyard Run (www.carnerosfire.org) and that infamous hill up to the Artesa winery does not get any easier! If you have ever been to Artesa, you know it sits perched upon a little hill here in the Carneros region with gorgeous views and on a clear day you can see all the way to San Francisco. While this might make for an easy start to the race, it is one of the toughest hills I have encountered at a finish in a long time! Artesa hosts this fundraiser every year for the volunteer fire department, donating their space and wines for the participants. It includes a 5k and a 10k run (3.1 miles and 6.2 miles respectively) followed by a pancake and sausage breakfast (and vino too!).
I love this run. It’s not too big, somewhere around 900 runners; it’s always full of locals like my fellow Vinerunners as well as winery friends and others from around the community. I invited a running pal of mine to test his legs on the rolling hills of Carneros and he accepted – he’s training for the Boston Marathon this month and always a sure bet for any fun run I can dig up! He got a personal best on the course, but when I asked him how it went he said he was silently cursing me all the way out. Those rolling hills are beautiful, and though they seem trivial, you can definitely feel them as you are chugging along. I ran a respectable time, though 4 minutes slower than last year (indeed, I need to step up my training, I know) – it was however, still fast enough to win a bottle of Artesa’s Late Harvest wine. After a satisfactory race, a belly full of pancakes, and a bottle of wine in hand I left the race with a big smile on my face. Next year I might even coax some of my co-workers into running it with me. In the meantime, next up for me is the US Half Marathon on April 11th in San Francisco. It will be my first race across the Golden Gate Bridge – wish me luck!