I have a confession – I love quirky festivals and races. A number of years ago, we went to California and my “cover” was that we were visiting friends, but I was an enthusiastic runner at the time and I had secretly designed our trip around the Gilroy Garlic Festival and its cross country race, the Run for the Stinkin’ Roses. Many runners wore giant foam heads of garlic. Some were even strung together like hanging garlic! (Sadly, it doesn't appear that the race is still part of the festival). And the food - well that was just the icing on the garlic flavored cake! So, if you have a guilty pleasure like mine, I’ve found some equally offbeat celebrations, that you might want to make as a side trip or maybe even the main event!
1. Gilroy Garlic Festival
Every year, Gilroy, California, known as the "garlic capital of the world", celebrates the deliciousness of garlic in a uniquely California way. You can even smell the garlic before you get to the town! Our visit included tasting garlic ice cream and garlic chocolate. And yes, they tasted exactly the way you would imagine, but we also managed to sample more “mainstream” garlic-centric delights! Here's the link to the festival!
2. Marathon du Medoc
Leave it to the French to one-up the marathon. This race, in the Bordeaux region of France, incorporates not only a full marathon, but also serves refreshments along the way including oysters, cheese, and yes, wine! Participants even dress in costume, based on the designated theme for the year. I wonder - how many alcohol-related running injuries occur during that race? Here's the link to their website.
3. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati
What’s could possibly be better that knocking back a cold brew while watching adorable dachshunds run around? Absolutely nothing! Among other events, Cincinnati’s Octoberfest holds a Running of the Wieners race, where dachshunds race in hot dog bun costumes for the title of winning wiener! In addition to this awesomely wacky contest, this largest Octoberfest in the US holds its own versions of sporting events including a Beer Stein Race and a Beer Barrel Roll! Click here for more info.
4. Tour de Donut
While some dream of riding in the Tour de France, others have more modest aspirations. Held annually in September, the original Illinois Tour de Donut started in 1989 as a spoof of the Tour de France. It has since expanded to other states. According to website from the Ohio Tour de Donut, “your ability to eat donuts is just as important as your ability to ride your bicycle fast”. During the course, riders stop at various donuts shops to eat donuts. For each donut consumed, time is deducted from the rider’s time. Now that’s my idea of a bike race! Visit both websites by clicking on the links above!
Update: Interested in another "beverage-related" race like the Tour de Medoc? Check out the Bourbon Chase, a 200 mile relay race across Kentucky through historic bourbon distilleries. One group has done the race eight years straight! The Skortaholics is a group of nine runners who embody the same sense of fun as the events you've read about above. Click here to meet the Skortaholics and read about their Bourbon Chase journey and other fun and inspirational articles!