This year’s Wine Country Half Marathon, to be held on Sunday, July 17 has attracted runners from all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. The event, which ends in the Plaza horseshoe, will draw thousands of runners, wine enthusiasts, sponsors and media personnel for a day of fun. Over 60 percent of the race participants travel from outside of California to the region, many bringing family and friends, creating an economic boon for local businesses and adding an international flavor to the event.
New this year, Destination Races has also added a 5K race starting at Gundlach Bundschu winery and finishing in the Plaza to coincide with the half-marathon finish. Aptly named the GunBunFunRun 5K, this race was created to give locals, as well as friends and family of the half-marathon runners, a chance to take a more active role in the festivities.
GunBunFunRun 5K participants receive their own specially designed shirt, finisher’s medal, and wine glass good for entry into the Wine & Music Festival. The 5K starts at 8:15 a.m. in three waves and merges into the half-marathon course at mile 10, allowing 5K runners to also finish in Sonoma Plaza. Registration is currently open for the GunBunFunRun 5K but is limited to 300 participants and is expected to sell out soon. Volunteers from Parkpoint Health Club of Sonoma will manage the 5K race.
Last year’s half marathon winner, Tesfaye Sendeku of Ethiopia set that course record (1:03:58) and Kenyans Paul Ngeny and Edward Kiptum finished second and third respectively. Sendeku is poised to defend his title but will have stiff competition from two Americans from Southern California, 2008 champion Sergio Reyes, and Christian Hesch, winner of the 2010 Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. Julia Mallon, winner of the 2009 Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon returns and will be challenged by newcomer Caroline Kirui, a resident of Auburn, by way of Kenya.
A two-day Health and Fitness Expo takes place before the race at Cornerstone Sonoma. A gateway between Napa and Sonoma, Cornerstone Sonoma features a series of walk-through gardens showcasing new and innovative designs from the world’s finest landscape architects and designers. The expo features exhibitor booths, seminars, wine tasting, and packet pickup for registered runners. Open to the public, the expo is open on Friday, July 15, from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information on the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon and registration for the GunBunFunRun 5K visit napa2sonoma.com.