The São Silvestre road race

Considered to be one of the oldest road races in the world, the São Silvestre attracted more than 22,000 runners last year. Maganews now gives you a rundown of the event’s history.

A journalist, Cásper Libero, who founded the radio and TV broadcaster, Gazeta, is considered to be the father of the São Silvestre race. The idea for the race came to him in 1924 when he was in Paris. Cásper was fascinated to see a night race where runners carried torches. On December 31, 1925, a mere 48 runners raced the first São Silvestre. The name was chosen because of the date, as December 31 is Saint Sylvester’s Day. Until 1944 only Brazilians ran in the race. In 1945, international runners began to take part in the event. In the 1950s the race became famous around the world. In 1975 women began to run the race. For several decades the São Silvestre was the only race that began in one year and ended in another – it began at 11:30 pm on December 31 and ended on January 1, in the first hour of the New Year. The route is now 15 km long, but in its first few decades it was much shorter. In 1989 the time it began was changed to the afternoon. In 2012 there was another change, and the start was moved to the morning.

                   The Biggest Winners

Several Olympic and World Champions have run this race. Paul Tergat, of Kenya, has most victories, with five in all. The most victorious woman is the Portuguese, Rosa Mota, who won six consecutive races in the 1980s. Among Brazilians, the biggest winner is Marílson Gomes dos Santos, with three titles. Avenida Paulista is the starting point, and the course takes in some of the main streets and avenues in downtown São Paulo.

Picture – Paulo Pinto

1 road race – corrida de rua
2 runner – corredor
3 rundown – resumo
4 torche – tocha
5 downtown – centro da cidade

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