By Dan Walton
It would normally be cause for concern to spend all morning drinking wine, but nobody will intervene as long as you’re a participant in the Half Corked Marathon on May 27.
Drinking that much wine amid a 21-kilometre half marathon isn’t an easy accomplishment, and the toughest part about it is getting in. Over 4,000 people applied to get in (even more than last year) and only 1,100 were successful.
Organizers choose to limit the number of participants in order to maintain the perfect experience. While they could allow for more runners to join in on the fun, local hospitality businesses are already past capacity, crowded wineries would struggle to offer intimate experiences, and a strict limit keeps the event in demand year after year.
“If we get much bigger than that we’ll begin losing visitors to other locations,” said Jennifer Busmann, executive director of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association. “It’s a half-marathon where you get to run through beautiful vineyards and stop for samples at award winning wineries. Then runners get to celebrate by dancing, eating and having fun at the finish line. It has a reputation for being just a well rounded event that continues to grow.”
The Half Corked is popular among recreational and competitive runners, though results are not officially recorded.
But no matter how competitive each runner feels, nearly all of them have one thing in common: silly costumes. New levels of creativity are reached every year. Standing out in 2016 was a runner dressed as Indiana Jones, whose friends dressed as boulders, rolling a giant rock behind him – just like the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark – but for the entire marathon.
Wineries go above and beyond as well, getting into full character, developing fanciful drink blends for the occasion, and there was even an obstacle course set up at River Stone Estate Winery last year.
“Wineries go over the top making themes their stations,” Busmann said.
There is a primavera dinner planned on Friday night at Moon Curser Vineyards, where long tables stacked with delectable foods and wines will be lining rows of grapevines.
As for the new hotel proposed for Centennial Park, Busmann expects it will be a benefit for the Half Corked.
“It would be great to have accommodation in the Town of Oliver so participants could stay right in town,” she said. “Being able to walk home from finish line and stay in the community would make things even easier.”
This year marks the ninth anniversary of the Half Corker. Registration is on May 26 and the main event takes place on the 27th.
Spots filled up months ago, so anybody interested in taking part will have to put their name into next year’s lottery.
NOTE: Volunteers are still needed for the marathon, so please call Rhoda at the Oliver Visitor Centre (778-439-2363).