Say goodbye to the year by running in a group: San Silvestre races

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The 12 grapes in Spain. The fireworks. The Champagne toasts. The red underwear. The countdown in New York’s Times Square. The night of December 31st is filled with rituals to bid farewell to the year. And runners have their own. All around the world, runners are signing up for races to mark the end of the year.  And the best known are the so-called San Silvestre races. Get your leggings and shorts, gloves and best sneakers ready to hit the streets in these universal marathons.

In Spain, the San Silvestre races are undoubtedly named after a Catholic Pope who died on December 31st. But this race is anything but a funeral. A race with a difference and a festive atmosphere where anything goes. Running with friends, family, in costume or spraying confetti at everyone who passes by. Plus, a bit of running will give you the perfect excuse to arrive ready to tuck into half a roast turkey with potatoes, sausages and a tray of nougat and sweets for your New Year’s Eve dinner. But why do we run on December 31st? Where does this tradition come from?

Where does the tradition originate?

To see the first San Silvestre race we have to travel back in time to 1925 in Brazil. Journalist Cásper Líbero decided to organize a race on New Year’s Eve to promote his newspaper: A Gazeta. The idea came to him after seeing a New Year’s Eve race in Paris in where runners carried torches that lit up the streets as they passed through. This first San Silvestre de Sao Paulo covered a distance of 6.2 km, which was gradually increased to its current 15km. Today, the Sao Paulo race is considered the most famous in the world and attracts around 35,000 runners every year.

Racing around the world

Many people are off on December 31st, and saying goodbye to the year by running is the perfect plan. All the more so in such a festive atmosphere. So San Silvestre races have spread halfway around the world. One country that has made the San Silvestre a major event is Spain. Since the 1970s, the San Silvestre Vallecana has been held in Madrid and has brought together more than 10,000 people to run the 10 km race. And this is not the only year-end race held in this country. Barcelona hosts its own San Silvestre with the same approximate number of runners, about 10,000.

There are also other countries with their own year-end races such as Reykjavik, London, Colombia, Costa Rica or Mexico. Another well-known race is the one held in the Argentine city of Buenos Aires. A San Silvestre of only 8 km that cheers on a large number of runners. In all cases, these are events where the party and the joy are just one more participant. Because there is nothing better than closing the year doing what we like the most and with the promise of moving into the new year without ever stopping.

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