The Wine Race

Why should competitors choose the ING Route du Vin over other half marathons in Europe?

“Quite simply because it’s one of the fastest AIMS certified race courses in Europe” explains Race Secretariat Chrstiane Liefgen.

With an out and back course along the River Moselle in Luxembourg, The Route du Vin makes its way from Remich to Wormeldange and back, finishing in the Dr Fernand Kons square. Running along the valley floor the route is pan-flat, and with closed roads it’s perfectly set up for an assault on your half marathon personal best.

This year’s race takes place on Sunday 27 September starting at 15:00 CET and features refreshments stations every 5km. With a race pack containing a bottle of sparkling white and a medal, even if a personal best eludes you, the race still has something for everyone. And that includes children, with fun runs of 700m and 2.1km respectively.

Steeped in tradition, the race was the brainchild of Paul Frieden, the idea being to take the race to the people. By running along the river valley, towns and villages would provide a fitting audience for the race, with the ‘Wine Race’ nametag coming from the many vineyards the runners pass along the route.

The race was first held in 1962, 54 years ago, with just 29 competitors toeing the line. But the race has come a long way since its inception, as Liefgen points out.

“The new participation record was definitely the highlight of last year’s race! In the end we were just short of 2,000 runners – hopefully we can eclipse that this year.”

“In 2015 we’ll have an additional refreshments station as well as musical animation accompanying the runners throughout the race.”

The fact that to date, only eight editions of the men’s and women’s Wine Race have been won by Luxembourg athletes demonstrates the quality of the race. After the victory of Jean Aniset at the first edition in 1962, Theo Bock and Justin Gloden have been the only other men to keep the title home.

Since then numerous top African runners have flocked to the landlocked country in chase of a personal best, with the men’s race won by a Kenyan every year since 1996, with Leonard Langat revising the course record to 59.56 in 2010. The women’s side has also seen African dominance for the last decade; however Slovenia’s Helena Javornik still holds the course record, which stands at 1.09.22.

Only two female Luxembourgers have been crowned champions: Jeanny Mahnen, who was a pioneer for distance running in Luxembourg, took victory on  4 occasions between 1976 and 1982, whilst Danièle Kaber also tasted victory before going on to finish 7th in the Seoul Olympic marathon in 1988. This all comes despite the race having incorporated the National Half Marathon Championships since 2001.

“Organising an event like the Route du Vin requires lengthy preparations - in fact detailed planning of the next edition starts as soon as the last competitor has crossed the finish line” says Liefgen.

“It’s important for our race to be certified as ‘5 star’ by European Athletics Running for All because we want to ensure participants get an overview of the quality of our race at a first glance. We have been fulfilling the 5-star criteria for several years now and view the standards as important for both runners and spectators alike.”

It isn’t just the Federation Luxembourgeoise d’Athletisme  and the City of Remich who work hard to ensure the event is a success; the police, highways agency , emergency services and medical team all play a crucial role, as well as more than 200 volunteers who ensure the seamless running of the event on race day.

Whatever it is you look for in a road race, there is something undeniably magical about the Route du Vin.

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