|T.J. Nelson/Special to The Daily Courier|
The Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon will feature a course through scenic terrain
like the vista seen here at the 2012 Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
And visitors and locals alike will also get the chance to nosh, sip and watch flicks at the Okanagan Food & Wine Film Festival scheduled for Sept. 13-15.
"Yes, wine does pair with everything," said Tourism Kelowna media relations manager Catherine Frechette.
"These are two great upcoming events that take advantage of Kelowna's attributes of scenic beauty, climate, recreation, food, wine and culture."
The half marathon is considered a real coup because it's expected to attract 2,000 participants who won't only be here to run the race, but will also spend on transportation, hotels, dining, wine, shopping and other attractions.
The Kelowna event is the latest addition to the Destination Races circuit of half marathons through picturesque wine regions.
"We started with the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine County Half Marathon in 2004," said Sonoma-based Destination Races founder and president Matt Dockstader.
"It goes through backroads and vineyards and has the cachet of the Napa-Sonoma name. It's become wildly popular and our biggest race, selling out at 3,800 participants within one hour of registration opening every year. We thought Kelowna would be a great addition."
Dockstader has been to Kelowna before to ski Big White and Silver Star resorts and tasted Valley wines on those trips.
So he contacted the Canadian Tourism Association to inquire about holding a race here.
He was put in contact with Tourism Kelowna's sport development officer, Chad Douglas, who quickly wooed Dockstader with information, a couple more trips to the the city to check everything out and $12,500 in Tourism Kelowna funding to help put the event on.
There are also half marathons in Santa Barbara and Healdsburg, Calif., as well as races in Oregon's Willamette Valley and Northern Virginia.
As an inaugural event, registration for the Kelowna half marathon has been brisk.
The cost is $85 for an individual or $150 if you want to split the distance as a two-person relay.
The relay point is at the midway point, where the water station also has white wine runners can chug if they want to.
"It's just an ounce or two, so it's more of a novelty," said Dockstader.
"But we had to have it because this is,
after all, a wine country half marathon."
The mid-way point is at Tantalus Winery in Southeast Kelowna, on a route that starts at The Vibrant Vine Winery in East Kelowna and then meanders past vineyards, orchards and farms onto the Mission Creek Greenway and then along Okanagan Lake to end at Waterfront Park.
It's in the park where a wine and music festival will get going at 9:30 a.m. and run until noon with a live band, awards and 16 wineries pouring samples for finishers and anyone else who wants to show up.
To build a whole weekend party around the Saturday morning race there will be a Thursday night
reception at West Kelowna's Quails' Gate Winery, a race expo at the Delta Grand hotel Friday for both runners and the public, a Friday dinner at The Vibrant Vine and wine touring Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
"Our demographic is runners who like to travel and drink wine," said Dockstader.
The Okanagan Food & Wine Film Festival is organized by Christina Ferreira of Impact Events, who is a former event co-ordinator with the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, and Alison Love of Spatula Media, who works closely with the Okanagan Chefs Association.
Held at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, feature-length, shorts and documentaries that star food and wine will be shown.
Local experts will introduce all the films and host question and answer sessions, but the best part may be the follow-up receptions, where the food and wine just seen on screen will be served.
The line up of films is still to be finalized, but it will also include shorts selected from online submissions to WithoutaBox.com. starting in March.
Those submissions will also go into the People's Choice contest for a $500 prize.
You can follow the festival's progress at Twitter.com/OKFoodWineFilm and Facebook.com/OKFoodWineFilmFest.