It’s not every day you get invited to be part of Team Chateau Cheval Blanc for the St Emilion half marathon and back in January when this invitation presented itself we jumped at the opportunity (of course the prospect of running 21km in the mud, wind and rain hadn’t quite hit home at this point). Last weekend was one of the most memorable weekends I’ve had in some time for many, many reasons.
We arrived in Bordeaux on Saturday lunchtime and met up with a couple more of the UK contingent of Team Cheval. We’d made a plan to have a long lunch on the coast which I’m thrilled to say we didn’t forfeit despite the rather choice weather (to say the least). We settled in for a few hours at La Co(o)rniche in Arcachon with a small, humble-looking (see photo…) Fruits de Mer platter and a few glasses of wine… it is important to relax before a race after all. After sneaking in the second half of Scotland v Wales in Libourne, we were picked up and taken to our home for the weekend at La Tour du Pin, where Cheval make their white wine. Saturday evening saw us meet up with the rest of the UK team for dinner at the Chateau with Pierre-Olivier. We were advised it would be a light dinner but we hadn’t quite envisaged it starting with Dom Perignon ‘08 and finishing with Cheval Blanc ‘09 because ‘although we are running tomorrow, we are still at Chateau Cheval Blanc!’ said Pierre. I couldn’t have agreed more.
Saturday night saw early nights all round and many crossed fingers that the weather might have improved ever so slightly ahead of tomorrow’s race. Alas, Sunday morning saw no change in conditions but after meeting the rest of team Cheval over breakfast, a few team photos and changing into our Cheval T-shirts we were feeling raring to face the mud and the hills and take on St Emilion half marathon. Having finished, I even surprised myself by admitting that it was the most fun race I have ever done. The good spirits must have been unanimous as there were more than commendable times all round and few PBs thrown in for good measure too (Editor’s note: Ellie is being very restrained here in not mentioning she was the 9th placed finisher in the ladies’ category!).
Now for the bit we had really been waiting for: a long and well deserved lunch at the Chateau hosted by Pierre Lurton, Arnaud and Pierrot. The lunch was effortlessly brilliant yet wonderfully relaxed chatting to new friends over fantastic food and of course the stunning wines of Cheval Blanc. We drank Le Petit Cheval Blanc 2015 followed by Le Petit Cheval 2008, Cheval Blanc 2006, 2004 and 1985 before finishing up with a few bottles of Chateau d’Yquem 2005. All outstanding wines, the 1985 being the most mature and complex, but the overall density and balance of the 2006 just pipping it for me on the day.
All in all it was a truly amazing weekend and one which we will remember for a long, long time. Thank you so much to Pierrot and Arnaud for being such generous and wonderful hosts, to the team at Cheval for organising the weekend so seamlessly, and to the rest of our running team for getting us up those hills and contributing to such a fun weekend.