Now in its 22nd year, Martinborough Round the Vines appeals to those wanting to activate their hamstrings and their taste buds. Whoever said running was boring has obviously never been to Round the Vines, an annual running and walking event in Martinborough.

The popular event, which is an annual fundraiser for Martinborough Primary School, sees costume-clad punters walk or run 10km or 21km around the wine village and through pretty vineyards while giving them the opportunity to taste wine and listen to live music along the way. 

There’s no sports drinks here. Just a healthy dose of fun and frivolity washed down with a local Pinot Noir.

Amy Mason, who along with Viv Malneek, has organised the event for the last three years, says Round the Vines has a long and proud history.

“This event has always been run as a fundraiser for Martinborough Primary School and its inspiration came from Le Marathon du Medoc, held through the fabled wine villages of the Medoc region in France where people get dressed up and have an outrageously good time,” she says.

“Parents associated with the school two decades ago saw an obvious connection between that event and creating one here, so Round the Vines was born. That connection has been further cemented as there’s always been pupils of the school with parents working in the wine industry.”

The event has become as much renowned for its stunning scenery and varied terrain as for its colourful atmosphere. The course takes walkers and runners around the periphery of Martinborough and through many of the vineyards. Along the way there are water stations, which also offer small wine tastings while live music and a festive vibe at the finish line have helped it withstand the test of time.

“This is a relaxed event’ says Amy. “We encourage people to dress up and we don’t offer timing chips. It’s just about walking and running and having fun. People like that. The feedback we get is really positive and we always attract large groups of corporates and even groups of runners from Wellington athletics and harriers who use the event as a fun training run.”

Last year’s event attracted 1300 entrants, half of whom came from Wellington, and raised $28,000 for the school’s new adventure playground. But there are people who travel from as far as Auckland and the South Island.

“Whilst we attract a lot of locals, we always get a terrific number of out-of-towners who come to run and walk and spend the weekend here. There’s always a strong corporate representation and in fact last year’s winner of the men’s 21km event was with the Kensington Swan group … he finished the race in his red speedos!”

This year’s event will involve the whole Martinborough community with around 100 volunteers needed in a variety of roles. Support also flows from local businesses, many of whom donate spot prizes for first, second and third place finishers over four categories. Even though Amy admits she’s never participated in the event herself (instead opting to help out behind the scenes since her own children Alex, now 11, and Lydia, now 9, started school) she loves being involved.

“There’s no doubt this is one of those days when the community comes together. We have volunteers handing out water to runners, spectators cheering on their friends and businesses donating great prizes. It’s a great event to be part of.”

The 2017 Martinborough Round the Vines is being held on Sunday, March 19.  For more information visit www.roundthevines.org.nz