Wednesday, January 2, 2019

São Silvestre 15k 2018 {race recap}

Time: 1:39?

I’ve wanted to run Sao Silvestre 15k for a while- it achieved bucket list status for me years ago after watching many YouTube videos of the race. It’s one of the oldest, most historic races in South America- this was the 94th Edition! Once we knew we would be in São Paulo for New Years Eve, we signed up to secure our spots before it sold out. 

On Thursday before the race (Monday) we went to the expo to pick up our kits. 

It was extremely well organized- we knew we would pick up our bib for the green section-  there were lines and people to direct us where to go. 

We collected our bibs and shirts and then walked through the expo. 
There were many vendors selling all sorts of running gear- socks with crazy prints, shoes, shirts, fanny packs, and nutrition. 

There was a booth to customize your race shirt. Many people wear the race shirts on race day. We have no idea why people wear the race shirts for the actual  races in Brasil. Maybe they aren’t superstitious like us Americans? (I prefer to wear non race shirts for races, and race shirts for training.) There are also usually  people wearing their athletic club shirts for races too. 

We got some free coffee and took some pics and then went back to the hotel. 

The race shirt is pretty nice. 

Obligatory pic with bibs. 

Fruit bars, cappuccino mix, and gels in our kits.  

Not a bad selection of stuff. 

They were also handing out free wonder woman nail polish and sunscreen. 

I bought an orange shirt that had São Paulo landmarks on it. (Famous bridge, obelisk, and MASP)

Monday was race day!

We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and then took an Uber to as close as we could get to the race staging area. 

Surprisingly streets were empty a few blocks out. This race is over 35k people!

We got to the start about an hour before the gun went off and sat on the ground. And waited. 

And waited more. 

And took selfies. 

And waited more. More and more people kept coming into the area. They had on the other color bibs which meant a slower estimated time. It’s a thing here to try to be in the front?  we all had on chips so there was no need to fight for a spot near the start. 

More selfies and waiting. 

The start area was packed shoulder to shoulder with runners. People were still trying to squeeze in front - many of whom looked like they wouldn’t be running fast- especially in the heat.  Smh. 

I knew this race was kind of a shit show from the videos we’ve watched. But my expectations were for way less of a mess than it actually was. 

Views of Avenue Paulista. 

One last selfie!

So many people! How about those cotton socks?

Around 9 the gun went off and we started moving towards the start line. People were jogging in place like robots. People were trying to weave and get to the front (again, we had chips) Y THO!?

We weren’t too far back from the start but yet it seemed there were thousands of people in front of us. When we ran in a tunnel at the start, everyone started cheering and yelling. 

L and I decided to run together and to not try to weave around the people too aggressively  who felt the need to start in the front even thought they would be slower than most of the herd. We didn’t want to get separated. 

Most people in their gray race shirts. 

In the first 5k (of 15k) we must have passed 7,000 people. I have no idea how that many people got in front of us, since we weren’t too far back from the start. 

It was insane seeing so many people all packed together. The first few km are a very steep downhill- it was crazy seeing the sea of people in front of us. 

Whenever a camera was present people would cut across the street to get in front of it and wave or whatever. They would stop short to do this without any consideration to people around them. Smh. 

The course is pretty cool because it’s one huge 9.3 mile loop around São Paulo. 

We stopped at each aid station- like every 2-3km for water. I took ice and put it in my sports bra, drank some of the cold water and dumped the rest on my head. 

At one of the aid stations near the end, a guy ran into me and we exchanged some nice Portuguese curse words. I felt lik Lisa Simpson in that episode where she learns Italian. (I have never made an effort to learn bad Portuguese words but somehow they all came out at that guy- must have learned the words from when L and I watch Futebol and he yells at the TV) I definitely earned my  barraqueira card Monday. 

It was during this verbal altercation that L and I got separated. Thank god for cell phones so we could pick a place to meet up - we did lose like 8 minutes while trying to find a place to sync back up. L was all “meet at mile 8.5” and I was all let’s meet at avenue whatever - since our GPS watches were not calculating the same distance- I had started my watch about 50 yards before the start on accident. 

While waiting for L, I saw some of the costume runners- a guy dressed as Ayrton Senna in full race gear including helmet, Ironman and all sorts of other things. 

With several k left, we were able to meet up and climb Brigadero together. Yay uphill finish! 

About a km before the finish, some people were handing out beer. Of course we stopped to drink it. The beer was cold and was delicious on such a hot race day. 
The plastic cups of water were easy to drink out of. Just punch a hole in the aluminum foil. They were difficult to run on though- very slippery and crunchy. 

Running up Brigadero. 

Crunchy cups!

Selfie on Ave Paulista. So happy to be almost done with this race!

We grabbed hands and crossed the finish together. I’ve never been so happy to be done with a race in my life- ok that’s not true. Boston and IM Lou were #1 and 2 for the feeling of “get me the f*ck out of here” Sao Silvestre was a very close 3rd. 

We walked through an insane mass of people to get our medals and then walked to the next metro station so we could take the subway back to our hotel. 

I’m so happy to cross Sao Silvestre off my bucket list. I have no plans to ever run it again- it’s not a race for a PR due to the heat (this is a summer race), hills and the crazy nature of the race. It’s more of a fun run/party I guess. I hate crowds and the unorganized nature of how the participants were lining up in front when it was very apparent they would walk 50 meters into the race. 

I did like that the race is a huge loop around São Paulo. 

The hills weren’t as bad as I anticipated. (Despite the 1k elevation gain) Those first few miles were quite steep downhill. 

There were thousands of spectators which definitely made the race atmosphere electric and fun. I also love the medal and race shirt. I did have fun in this race despite everything. 

Maybe I’ll return for the 100th Edition in 6 years- when it will likely be an even bigger shit show. At least my expectations will be more in line then. But going to Brasil between Christmas and the New Year is something I would want to avoid in the future. More on that in another post. 

So happy to cross this race off my bucket list!

1 comment:

  1. LOL I totally forgot it is summer there. Duh Kim. Duh. I hope the temps have been enjoyable otherwise (when you aren't running)!

    I've heard Asian countries wear the race shirt to the race too. Interesting, right? It's a cool shirt! I like it, and the medal, and the Sao Paulo tee.

    And I am glad you both still had fun and had the chance to do this. It seems like an experience for sure. And I am so glad you weren't separated for too long and your phones worked - I've relied on my phone to hook up with people at races and it hasn't worked before!