London Marathoner drinks 25 glasses of wine during run, raising $24k for charity

Left: A screenshot of a TikTok of a man drinking a glass of red wine during a marathon. Center: Tom Gilbey takes a selfie with his London Marathon medal. Right: Tom Gilbey grimaces while he drinks a glass of wine

This story is giving notes of generosity, delight, and… a bit of intrigue.

It’s all thanks to Tom Gilbey, a wine connoisseur who ran the London Marathon this weekend fueled by something a little stronger than water and sports drinks.

In fact, you may have seen him on your social media feeds, doing a blind wine taste test for every mile he ran on the course.

The 52-year-old ran the marathon with two wine glasses tucked in his running belt — the one on the left for whites, and the one on the right for reds.

For every pause in the race, he swirled his elixir, took a sip, and was required to name the vintage, grape, and producer.

Tom Gilbey lifts his arm in the air while running the London Marathon, surrounded by other runners and a crowd of onlookers
Photo courtesy of Broni Lloyd-Edwards/Instagram

He was off to a strong start in mile one. 

“Could be a Pinot Noir,” he said in a TikTok video, breathless.

“Yep, it’s a Pinot Noir from Burgundy,” he added with confidence, as he dipped back into the race. “2018.”

Of course, he was correct.

Out of the 25 wines he sampled, he got seven correct. (For nine wines, he was two-thirds accurate, and for five samples, he was one-third correct, only getting four of the wines totally wrong). 

Oh, and the camera stopped working when he popped champagne at the end of mile 26.

A screenshot of a TikTok showing Tim Gilbey drinking wine during the London marathon
Photo courtesy of Tom Gilbey/TikTok

His son, Freddie, was the one who arranged the samples throughout the race. They both work at the family business, which — you guessed it — is a winemaking and event company

While the pair entertained onlookers and went viral on TikTok, it was Gilbey’s branded jersey that made a real difference.

Dressed in a blue and adorned with the logo for Sobell House, Gilbey’s wine consumption was really a way to draw attention to a fundraiser he was conducting for the hospice that once took care of his mother.

“I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for the wonderful team at Sobell House hospice, who nursed and cared for my dear Mum in her last few days,” he wrote on a JustGiving page.

@tomgilbeywine AND WE’VE ONLY DONE A VIDEO … 26.2 miles 25 wines tasted blind 7 fully correct, 4 wrong & 14 mostly right Over £10k raised for Donation link still open in Bio …. BIG FAT THANK YOU ❤️ #londonmarathon #marathon #blindtasting #tomgilbey ♬ original sound - Tom Gilbey

His original goal was to raise £2,000 (nearly $2,500) — and in just days, surpassed this by more than 900%.

At the time of this article’s publication, Gilbey’s fundraiser has racked up over £19,000 — or $23,000.

“I will be blind tasting one wine every mile, aiming to guess the grape variety and country for 26 wines… and not die doing it,” he wrote playfully. “Any help, support, and donations are all very much appreciated, and I’ll be needing all of it to get me round.”

Prior to the race, he shared his story on TikTok, where he has over 100,000 followers. 

“I’ve been doing lots of running training — in fact, not that much — but I have been doing a lot of blind tasting training,” he said in a video earlier in April.

“I thought, how could I make the London Marathon as silly as me?”

As goofy as Gilbey is, at the end of the day, his efforts were worth a lot more than even the fanciest bottle of wine.

Tom Gilbey, a white man with long dirty blond hair, smiles with a thumbs-up
Photo courtesy of Tom Gilbey

“I think in life, sometimes you get a silly idea that resonates but two silly ideas rarely resonate,” he told the Guardian, “so I’d encourage everybody to have a silly idea for a good cause and see what happens.”

Four other runners took on the race in honor of Sobell House, too, according to the hospice’s Facebook page.

“The care we provide to our community is only possible through the support from people like you,” Sobell House wrote. “We think you’re all amazing and we are cheering you on all the way to that finish line.”

A screenshot of a TikTok video of Tom Gilbey wearing a running jersey for Sobell House
Photo courtesy of Tom Gilbey/TikTok

And they weren’t the only ones cheering Gilbey on. Once his wine sampling video went viral on TikTok (with 3 million views and counting), commenters couldn’t get enough of his antics.

“Being a marathon runner AND a sommelier are two of the most pretentious hobbies,” one person wrote, “but I absolutely love this guy.”

“This may be the best way to do a marathon,” another added.

The sheer amount of wine consumed and dollars donated is enough to give anyone a buzz, so many were impressed by the fact that Gilbey completed the marathon in under five hours.

Most of all, community members were happy to even get a small taste of his positive energy.

“If I had to run a marathon, I would whine,” an anonymous donor wrote on Gilbey’s JustGiving page. “Your way is better, by far.”

With donations ranging from £5 to hundreds, it’s clear the marathoner and wacky wine taster made his late mother proud.

“Sorry to hear of your loss,” a donor commented, “but what a lovely epilogue this has made.”

Header images courtesy of Tom Gilbey/Instagram/TikTok

Article Details

April 24, 2024 9:05 AM
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