Race Weekend Recap: Rosé 5K and Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon

Disclaimer:  I received entries to the Rosé 5K and Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

Last Sunday I ran the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon for the fourth consecutive year. Hands-down, this is my favorite half marathon. After all, what’s better than running through beautiful vineyards in California’s wine country? In previous years participants could choose between the 5K Gun Bun Fun Run or the half marathon distances, both held on the same day. This year for the first time the 5K (now named the Rosé 5K) was moved to the day before the half, so runners could choose to run either or both. Of course I chose both!

Start and Finish area for the Rosé 5K

On Friday morning my husband Bob and I flew from Chicago to San Francisco and headed to my friend Kristi’s house. We caught up, did some shopping, and had an amazing home-cooked dinner (and of course, some amazing wine) before hitting the hay. On Saturday morning, Kristi and I woke up at o’dark thirty and headed out the door for the hour and a half drive up to Sonoma. We arrived early enough to score street parking just a couple of blocks from the race start/finish area. We picked up our bibs and race shirts, took a few photos, and then went back to her car to drop the shirts and a few other things off. We headed back to the start area about 15 minutes before gun time. There was music playing with an announcer getting the crowd going as runners self-seeded at the start. The National Anthem was sung and at exactly 8:00 a.m. we were on our way. Kristi and I agreed on a post-race meeting spot as she pulled ahead with the faster runners.

The race started and ended at Sonoma Plaza, taking runners on a scenic course onto East Spain Street toward Lovall Valley Road, looping through east Sonoma and up Gehricke Road. I was feeling good and my first mile was a little faster than I generally run. About a mile and a quarter into the race we approached the first hill so I decided to walk. I didn’t want to push myself too much during the 5K with the half marathon still ahead of me the following day. At approximately the halfway point there was a water station and then a hairpin turn as we headed back down Gehricke Road, onto the Sonoma Bike Path, and then back toward Sonoma Plaza.

Approaching the two-mile mark I could see another hill ahead and again slowed to a walk. Once we reached the peak there would be a gradual decline to the finish, so I picked up my pace. Kristi finished well before me with a new PR and was waiting for me at the finish. We found my husband (who had driven up separately), took a few more photos, and then headed out for breakfast.

Rosé 5K Finish

After breakfast we went to B. Wise, the first of three wineries we would visit that day. We tasted a variety of wines, purchased several bottles, and then headed to Chimney Rock, where my husband had pre-arranged a free tasting through a work connection. After some VIP treatment we splurged on a few bottles and then checked in to our Napa hotel. We got cleaned up and then visited the Del Dotto tasting room followed by a quick power nap back at the hotel. After dinner at Bottega Napa Valley we returned to our hotel and were fast asleep by 9:00 p.m.

Rock Star Treatment at the Chimney Rock Winery

The following morning, I woke up at around 5:00 a.m. to get ready for the half. Bob dropped me off at Cuvaison Winery where the race would start. I arrived at about 6:15 a.m., which gave me ample time to grab something to eat, stop at the porta-potties, and seed myself in line for the start. Once again the National Anthem was sung and just a few minutes after 7:00 a.m. we were on our way.

Having previously run this race I was well-aware of the first left turn leading to the ‘butt burner’ hill just a quarter of a mile into the race. I ran up the first half of the hill and then slowed to a walk. I continued with my run/walk interval for the first eight miles, and then decided to walk the final five miles. The weather was perfect and I was more than happy to take my time and enjoy the views.

13.1 Miles of Beautiful Vineyard Views

As I approached the finish I could see Kristi and Bob cheering me on. I must have looked pretty pooped, because Kristi jumped in and ran alongside me for a few seconds to get me through that final stretch. I crossed the finish line just seconds under my goal, so I was happy for that extra burst of energy from my friend! I collected my {awesome} medal and then found Kristi and Bob. We went over to the tent where I could collect my commemorative wine opener and wine stopper for having participated in both races.

Post-race Festivities

We waited in line for our souvenir glasses and enjoyed some wines from a few of the many vineyards pouring tastes at the post-race wine and music festival. After the post-race festival, Kristi went to visit a friend and Bob and I went back to the hotel so I could get cleaned up and take a nap. Kristi rejoined us later in the afternoon for lunch at the Red Hen Bar and Grill. After yet another nap we had an awesome dinner at the Rutherford Grill.


On Monday morning Kristi headed back home for some scheduled work meetings. Bob and I had breakfast at the hotel and then headed up to Healdsburg for an amazing food and wine pairing at Capo Creek Winery. If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend it! Our sumptuous wines were paired with delicious food made by none other than the winery’s cofounder, vintner, sommelier, and chocolatier (!) Mary Roy, A.K.A. Mog Boss. Bear with me but I just had to post all of the photos of the amazing food we had because it was Just. That. Good. After an incredible gustatory experience, we rolled ourselves over to our hotel and took much needed nap!

Apricot Brie Bites paired with Rosé of Grenache and Zinfandel 2018


Sesame Tuna Wonton paired with Playlist 2018


Roasted Fennel paired with Grenache Blanc 2017


Cotswold Pierogi paired with Zin 16, Reserve and Songwriter


Mini Wellington paired with Grenache vs Open Mic Rhone Red Blend


Cassis Cream paired with Cabernet Sauvignon Moon Mountain 2014


Gold Leaf Caramels


After breakfast at our hotel on Tuesday morning, Bob and I bummed around downtown Healdsburg where a farmer’s market was taking place. We sampled a few items, did a little shopping, and relaxed over iced tea in the beautiful morning sun. We checked out of our hotel and then headed back to Kristi’s place. That evening, we attended the Cubs/Giants game at Oracle Park. Unfortunately the Cubs lost in overtime, but we had a great time and in fact met up with some other friends from Chicago at the game.


On Wednesday morning we flew back home and back to reality. I was glad to have the following day off of work because I needed a rest after such an action-packed and fun-filled vacation!

The Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon was once part of the Destination Races Wine Country Half Marathon series and is now part of Motiv Running. I wondered what it would be like under the new organization, but I really didn’t notice anything different. Registration went smoothly, and I liked the opportunity to run the 5K since it was scheduled the day before the half.

Having run this race for the past four years, it has become a regular event on my running calendar. The course is absolutely breathtaking, and being able to combine the trip with visits with friends and tours of wine country, it is definitely my go-to when it comes to racecations. The race is well-organized and the post-race party is like no other. If you’ve never run a race in wine country, I would definitely recommend you check it out next year. Be aware that the race sells out early, so the sooner you register, the better!

What’s your favorite destination race? Have you ever run through wine country? What are some of your favorite wineries?

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On Sunday, November 3rd, I will be running the New York City Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training, an organization that helps The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) support cutting-edge research projects in the most promising areas of cancer research. If you’d like to contribute to my fundraising efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Any donation, big or small, will help and is greatly appreciated! Want to join me? You can still register for the NYC Marathon as a charity fundraiser for Team in Training! Use code NYCBIBRAVE to have the $100.00 team registration fee waived (you still have to raise the require funds).

Click here or on the picture to get to my fundraising page!



  1. Congratulations on your races! I have always wanted to visit wine country in California so I may need to add this one to my bucket list! Your meal looked absolutely amazing!

  2. Impressed with both your strategy and your stamina in the wake of all those wine tastings!

  3. Congratulations! I’m loving all the swag that you got from the race too. I would love to do this race one day – it looks so pretty and peaceful there!

  4. YOU are a beast!! I say that in awe…if I did all that wine tasting, I’d be down for the count LOL This looks like a fabulous event/weekend.

    1. Author

      I definitely needed a long nap after all was said and done! While I don’t train so well for the races, I’ve been training for years for the wine tastings!

  5. Awesome job Linda! Congrats on completing the double and coming in under your time. Was it crazy hot? How did it feel to run this w the training program you have been on?

    1. Author

      Thanks, Deborah! The temperature was pretty good – started in the low 50s. Last year was super hot. The ENDURE Strong training program definitely helped me!

  6. What an amazing time! I’m so nervous about planning a big destination race because work can interfere but this one looks worth the risk!

    Love all the food pics. Yum!

    1. Author

      Yes, I could see where that would be a concern. Luckily we do self-scheduling at my job and obviously I can manipulate my own schedule for my business, so that’s a big benefit!

  7. Congrats on both the races.
    Beautiful swag.
    I often run in a place famous for the wine: the city is Montefiascone (Italy) and the wines are “est, est, est” and “cannaiola”. Unfortunately I am teetotal.

  8. Congratulations on the races! This sounds like so much fun, I just love wine country. I may have to do this event some year!!

  9. I love wine so this sounds like a perfect race to me. I would have run both races too.

    My favorite destination so far has been Paris. But I am headed to Bermuda next Feb. Very excited about that.

  10. Oh well done and lovely pics. What great medals, and nice you got an extra for doing both runs, too.

  11. And now I’m starving!

    Congratulations on a great race! This looks like so much fun, “buttburner hill” notwithstanding. Napa and Sonoma are so beautiful. I hope to go back some day.

  12. The wine opener and stopper are so cool! What great takeaways from a race. I need to do a destination race in wine country!

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