London Marathon runner tastes 25 glasses of wine during race

A wine connoisseur sampled 25 wines during the London Marathon, raising more than £14,000 for charity in the process.

Tom Gilbey, 52, swapped glucose gels for malbec and merlot as he completed the race, blind tasting a different wine at every mile.

Armed with two glasses stashed in his running belt, the wine expert took up a challenge to name each wine's vintage, grape and producer.

He started out strong at mile one, identifying a 2018 Burgandy Pinot Noir, and went on to name, "mostly correctly", 21 wines, getting four wrong.

But as the finish line got closer, the verdicts became hazier.

'I was overtaken by a fridge'

The veteran wine taster managed to avoid feeling tipsy by only drinking small sips or sometimes not swallowing the wine at all.

"If they were good, I might swallow it and if they were bad, they went on the road," he said.

"The wheels came off near the Isle of Dogs," he told BBC News. "[The wines] weren't good ones".

The feat was organised by his son, Freddie, 26, who is also marketing manager of Mr Gilbey's wine event experience business.

"He somehow managed to stash quite a few of the good wines in at the beginning, which lulled me into a false sense of security.

"There was a real trio of bad 'uns, and then around a similar point I was overtaken by a fridge. So that was sad".

Mr Gilbey can be seen delivering tasting notes after each sample in a TiKTok video that has gone viral on social media.

'My recovery strategy was a glass of fizz'

Prior to last week's event, his most recent "long run" had been a marathon in 1996.

In fact, the only training he had completed with "fuel" was a 10km run with one wine tasting.

"There was no strategy for anything," he said.

"I suppose my recovery strategy was a glass of fizz at the end. And I also had some water in between the chardonnay and sangiovese."

Mr Gilbey, known for sharing his opinions on wine on TikTok and Instagram, entered the race to raise money for Sobell House Hospice Charity in Oxford, which cared for his mother Caroline in her final weeks.

"She would have been laughing at me all the way," he said.

He far surpassed his target of £2,000, raising more than £14,000 at the time of writing for the charity.

'Hospice Hero'

"Tom is a hospice hero, and we are so grateful to him and all our other amazing marathon runners who have raised over £51,000 so far," said Amelia Foster, chief executive of Sobell House.

"Hospices help people live life to the full while they can and to have as good a death as possible when the time comes. It's hard to talk about, but so important, and Tom is certainly living life to the full in memory of his dear mum, Caroline."

Despite his achievement, Mr Gilbey has no plans to participate in France's Marathon du Medoc - an annual race held in September which spans the sprawling vineyards of the Gironde region and includes 23 wine tasting stops.

"I'm always up for doing whatever the silliest thing with wine is, but I think I can't be doing another (marathon)," he said, adding that the experience was "truly so much fun".

James Ellis, an ultra-marathon runner and captain of the 2021 British Spartathlon team, told The Times he would not recommend drinking during a race.

"Drinking red wine during a race might seem a little less bizarre when you consider that it's packed with polyphenols that can supercharge mitochondria, the body's energy cells, and help tame inflammation," he said.

"But it's also true that alcohol impairs muscle growth, dehydrates the body, depletes energy and can slow reaction times. That is why these days you never see the likes of Mo Farah downing malbec instead of a specialist sports drink."