The Reason Spanish Runners Will Flock To The Streets Across Spain Tomorrow To Participate In The Famed San Silvestre (Saint Silvester) Road Race

Image of the European Union flag. Credit: [email protected]

THE Saint Silvester Road Race is a long-distance running event, the oldest and most prestigious street race in Brazil but it’s getting very popular now in Spain

Regarded as the main international event in Latin American athletics, the Brazilian competition is held yearly in the city of São Paulo on December 31. This day is Saint Silvester’s Day, as it is the day in which the Catholic saint, who was a Pope, died in the 4th century of the Christian Era.

The road race has become very popular in Spain as well, with over 200 races held all over Spain to celebrate the last day of the year.

The first San Silvestre held in Spain was in Galdácano in 1961. This race, however, did not have continuity until 1973.

In 1964, the Galician sports promoter Antonio Nogueira created the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid – originally called the Grand Prix of Vallecas – which has become the most popular of all the New Year’s Eve races held in Spain, with 40 000 participants.

So what on earth drives 40 000 plus participants to voluntarily strip off into some some sparse and flimsy racing gear (despite the freezing weather) travel into the city centre, where of course it will be impossible to park. Head to the racing area, in a semi- trance as if hypnotised and hand all their most precious personal belongings (phone, purse, house keys and car keys) to a complete stranger who promises to store it carefully in an improvised locker room? Because honestly it sounds more than a little crazy and yet, despite knowing how loopy this sounds, I’ll find myself doing it in less than 24 hours. Not only will I quite happily hand over my latest model on the market smart phone to a person I’ve never met before in my life, I will actually find myself talking to complete strangers too as if they are my life long buddies. We’ll share racing stories as proud as if they were war stories and compare injuries as if they were battle wounds. We’ll even end up talking about our loved ones as if we’re in a foreign land, miles from home…

And the more I think of it, if it was just me, I would admit that I’m more than a little peculiar, but 40 000 plus people?? There has to be more….

  • Running races can be a motivating and confidence – boosting experience.

  • It will be thrilling: Crossing the finish line will give you a buzz of achievement and accomplishment. Pat yourself on the back. You did it!

  • Runners high is real: When you run, your body pumps out two powerful, feel good chemicals: endorphins and endocannabinoids.

And surely everyone want to finish the year feeling good and on a high.

Most people that start the race tomorrow won’t actually be there to win the race (just as well really otherwise you’ll have 39 999 very disheartened people crossing the finish line). They’ll be there to have fun and perhaps prove a point to themselves and possibly others that they could do it.

So tomorrow, donning my red Euro Weekly News T-Shirt, I will proudly stand on the start line, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people, of different ages, with different abilities, different ethnic back-grounds, different religions, but we will all be joined together under our communal passion to run.

And this powerful unity at the start of the race only grows throughout the competition, as the miles fall away and we all get emotionally and physically drained we’ll end up giving comrade hugs, sharing out water and energy gels. Too exhausted to speak, letting actions communicate more than a thousand words ever could. The miles will humble you. Tomorrow, thanks to the support of the hundreds of volunteers, to the thousands of people who will flock to the streets to cheer us on, to the support of fellow athletes, 40 000 plus dreams will come true tomorrow.

Unity, and peace to achieve a common goal and end the year on a positive vibe. It doesn’t have to be running, but perhaps more people should try it…


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Written by

Cristina Hodgson

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