Last Saturday, car and tractors gave way to close to 900 runners from Australia and overseas competing in the inaugural Runaway Barossa Marathon.
With a marathon (42.2km), half-marathon (21.1km) and 10km races as well as a 2.2km kids race, it really was an event for the whole family.
While I was signed up to run my second half-marathon, a winter of injury and illness cut my training short.
But with a seven-hour cut-off I had plenty of time to enjoy a walk that started at Peter Lehmann Wines, and went through Tanunda, up to Seppeltsfield along the iconic palm tree lined road to Gnadenfrei Church and through Marananga and back to the finish line on the grass at Peter Lehmann Wines.
While those at the front might not have been taking in the scenery, for those at the back there were opportunities to stop and take photos, as well as chat to the other competitors.
We met a woman from northern NSW who had travelled to the Barossa for the race, and a South African lady working in Melbourne who figured the race was a great opportunity to visit the Barossa before she returned home.
All the runners I spoke to praised the organisation of the event and the scenery although we all agreed that the course description of “undulating hills” might have been a bit generous.
With lots of gravel tracks on those long hills, a few runners said their shoes looked like they’d been running in the desert.
Despite the dust and hills, most runners I spoke to said they would be back.
Apart from completing the race, one of the highlights was meeting members from the 30,000 strong Facebook group, Running Mums Australia, including founder and race ambassador Nicole Bunyon.
We had drinks in Tanunda on the Friday night and had photos on Saturday morning, and were cheered over the line by Nicole and others.
The group is incredibly supportive, full of women of all ages and running abilities.
It wasn’t just the other runners that made this event so enjoyable.
A key ingredient in the success of any event of this scale is local support.
Barossa and Light Councils supported the event with Mayors Bob Sloane and Bill O’Brien handing out prizes for the winners.
Over 250 local volunteers ensured the safety of competitors as traffic marshals and the encouragement provided at the drinks stations lifted the spirits of runners along the way.
Special thanks to the Marananga Brass Band for musical welcome as we reached their water station.
As a recent arrival to the Barossa, I was proud to be a part of an event that showcased our region.
The Runaway Barossa Marathon will be back next year so put October 20, 2018, in the diary, dust off your sneakers and invite your friends.
And if running is not your thing, get together with friends or your sporting club and volunteer to support the runners as they “drink in” all the Barossa has to offer.