London Marathon ‘wine guy’ on how he sampled 25 wines during race

<span>London Marathon runner wine challenge goes viral. Photo: Tom Gilbey/PA Wire</span><span>Photograph: Tom Gilbey/PA</span>
London Marathon runner wine challenge goes viral. Photo: Tom Gilbey/PA WirePhotograph: Tom Gilbey/PA

A wine merchant who blind tasted a different glass of wine at each mile of the London Marathon has said he feels “honoured” his challenge went viral on social media, as he surpassed his fundraising target.

Tom Gilbey, nicknamed “the wine guy”, sampled 25 glasses of wine during the race, stopping to guess the drink’s grape variety, country of origin and vintage at each mile.

A video he posted on TikTok has amassed more than 3.2m views. He had his first sip at about 9.30am, shortly after the race began.

Gilbey said he aimed to raise £2,000 for Sobell House hospice charity in Oxford, which looked after his mum in her final days of life. His fundraiser has now passed £13,000.

On his JustGiving page he said he was 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”, and that he hoped to “not die doing it”.

Gilbey, based in London, said the marathon went “really well” and that he had been spurred on by the treat of a taste of wine after each mile.

Of the 25 glasses sampled, Gilbey said he got four completely wrong, seven spot on and the rest mostly right.

He completed the race in four hours, 41 minutes, including stops for drinking. “It’s my first experience of this going absolutely mad and I feel very honoured,” he said.

“It’s just incredible and it’s great because that’s what it’s all about. It’s for a great charity and they’re one of many hospices that just work their socks off to make massive differences.”

The wines ranged from bottles bought at petrol stations, mini bottles and canned wine, to a £40 barolo.

“It was hilarious because when you’re overtaken by a fridge and double-humped camel, you could get really depressed unless you knew there was a nice wine around the corner with some friendly faces to support you,” he said.

Gilbey, who runs wine businesses and events, said he had avoided feeling tipsy by only drinking small sips of wine, or by spitting it out after tasting.

“If they were good, I might swallow it and if they were bad, they went on the road,” he said. “I think the pain of the running allowed me to not feel anything other than the urge to finish. I think it’s a great way to stay sober.”

He celebrated his achievement by drinking a glass of champagne after completing the race.

“I was totally exhausted, totally cooked, but it was just such a great day and the atmosphere is just too fabulous for words so really, it doesn’t matter how painful it is,” Gilbey said.

Asked if he would ever take on a similar challenge again, he said: “100% not, but if you asked me if I would advise anybody else to do something like this, I would go, 100% yes.

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