Long-distance running isn’t just sports drinks, compression socks, and agonizing over mileage: The sport is also about the camaraderie, laughs, and goals achieved along the way. Running a marathon with a group of friends is an excellent way to share the ups and downs of training, and a destination race allows you to explore a new-to-you place while celebrating the achievement with your favorite running buddies. Even better? A race in which you can properly toast the accomplishment of crossing the finish line in many ways.
That’s where the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, New York, comes in. This hugely popular race, which was recently voted by RaceRaves.com as the best marathon in New York, embraces the vino, with touches like a race medal that’s designed to look like the bottom of a bottle of wine to the split of wine that 21-and-up registrants receive. This well-organized, scenic marathon features a field of nearly 70 percent women, and there are shorter races as well if you’re not up for the full 26.2 miles. Add in the natural beauty of the Southern Finger Lakes region, with its bucolic landscapes, quaint towns, and, of course, wineries galore (more than 100 in the region), and you have ample reason to gather the girls for a weekend getaway.
This speedy, flat, point-to-point marathon, which is held the first weekend in October, is perfect for a first-timer wanting a supportive and fun race experience. And for seasoned athletes aiming for PRs or even a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, the Wineglass Marathon is the place to do it. The route kicks off in the town of Bath and follows the scenic Cohocton River through Campbell to downtown Corning, gently declining in about 200 feet of elevation along the way. A half marathon, 8K, and 5K are also part of the race series.
Along the route, you’ll find encouraging crowds cheering, waving signs, and ringing bells—much more than you’d expect beyond an urban environment; participants routinely express pleasant surprise about the vast spectator support. Finishers also take home one of the more interesting finishers medals in the sport: a handmade glass medallion that honors the glass-making history of Corning (this is where Corningware hails from, after all). If this sounds like your kind of marathon, don’t wait to register: The race is limited to just 3,000 participants and it sells out every year.
This vacation-worthy region of New York is full of post-race adventures that aren’t hard on the legs. The truly adventurous can take a ride in a seaplane and connect with local history, as aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss developed seaplanes on Keuka Lake over 100 years ago. Or spend a lazy morning paddling on Keuka Lake (you can rent a kayak, jetski, or stand-up paddleboard from Champlin Beach in Hammondsport). Multiple state parks and reserves are scattered around the area. Take a hike and see some of the dramatic waterfalls in the region.
Be sure to allow several hours to explore the captivating Corning Glass Museum, the largest glass museum in the world. It highlights the history of glassmaking and offers glassmaking classes—or you can watch a master glass artist during live demonstrations. Also in the area, you can try your hand at pottery with classes at Rocky Hill Pottery or Betelgeuse Pottery.
What to See, Eat, and Drink
Of course, for a race with the word “wineglass” in its name, there must be plenty of vino nearby. The Southern Finger Lakes area is one of the country’s most extensive wine-producing regions, with more than 100 wineries. It’s well known for its Rieslings and sparkling wines, although many varietals are also available at the scenic vineyards and tasting rooms scattered throughout the region.
Don’t know where to start your tasting tour? Here are a few toast-worthy winners not to miss. Try Celebre, a refreshing sparkling Riesling at Dr. Konstantin Frank Vineyard, whose sparkling wines routinely take home national awards (the 2014 Blanc de Noirs is also lovely). Visit the oldest winery in the Finger Lakes region, the Pleasant Valley Wine Co., which was established in 1860, and enjoy the Great Western American Brut with its slightly sweet allure. For a unique experience, head over to McGregor Vineyard and indulge in their 19-year-old sur lie aged sparkling apple wine.
Along with wine, nothing says “girls weekend” better than chocolate. After running a marathon, you’ve certainly earned it, and the Gaffer District Chocolate Trail is just the way to indulge. Local businesses in downtown Corning have organized into a self-guided tour highlighting such sweet treats as the Legendary Pecan Ball & Steuben Bar Chocolate Martini at Grill 1-2-5; the indulgent gluten-free chocolate torte by Sorge’s Restaurant; and Dippity Do Dahs “Dark Matter” homemade ice cream with dark chocolate, chocolate chips, brownies, and fudge. You can also ease those weary quads with chocolate-centric treatments (cocoa butter massage, anyone?) at a local spa, Four Feathers Massage and Wellness Center.
Early October marks the start of the autumn leaf-peeping season, with those gorgeous colors starting to show. Along with your soak-up-the-scenery exploration, add in some must-do fall activities like farm visits, where you can stock up on local maple syrup, honey, and produce. This time of year, farm-to-table restaurants will be bringing out the harvest menus. And don’t miss out on the tasty cider varieties at Cider Creek Hard Cider in Hammondsport—yet another reason to raise a glass to this spectacular region and its world-class races.
Wineglass Marathon 2019 Information
Race Weekend: October 4-6
Race Expo will be held at the Corning Museum of Glass on Friday, Oct. 4, from noon-7 pm, and Saturday, Oct. 5, from 10 am-7 pm.
Corelle 5K takes place at 8 am on Saturday, Oct. 5
Wineglass Half Marathon starts at 7:45 am on Sunday, Oct. 6
Wineglass Marathon begins at 8:15 am on Sunday, Oct. 6
Written by Lisa Collard for Matcha in partnership with Steuben County.