San Silvestre Vallecana: much more than just a race

A unique, extremely special race for the last day of the year
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Every December 31 since 1964, Madrid has been the capital of Spanish running. Sport and celebration come together in the San Silvestre Vallecana, one of only four 10 km races that holds the IAAF Gold Race Running Label. We’re talking about nothing less than the most popular athletics event in Spain, with some 40,000 participants. A huge group of people who get together not only to sweat and exercise, but also to say goodbye to the year in a fun, healthy way.

In the San Silvestre Vallecana there’s room for anyone who wants to take part, regardless of their level of fitness. In fact, the race consists of two very distinct competitions: a people’s race, which starts at 17:30h, and another for professional runners that starts a little later, at 20:00h.  Both give you plenty of time to make it to the grapes. It’s also a particularly pleasant route, since 8 of the 10 km that make up the race are slightly downhill. The people’s event is a real party, with plenty of costumes (Santa Claus, sumo wrestlers, Squid Game… the options are endless), music and everyone up for a good time. The so called International features the participation of current major international stars. In recent years, the San Silvestre Mini, organized for the youngest runners and held on December 26th, has also become part of the festivities.

So, clearly, the San Silvestre Vallecana is a race for everyone and reaching the finish line does matter, yes, but no more than having a good time and a few laughs on the last day of the year. Whether you’re planning to take part, or you’re just curious to find out more about the San Silvestre Vallecana, we’ve compiled some facts and stories about one of the most famous 10 km races in the world.

#Distance: When the first race was held in 1964, the distance was only 3 km. Later, more kilometers were added – 6, 8, 12 km – until in 1998 a distance of 10 km was officially established.

#Route: Since it first started, the San Silvestre Vallecana has had different routes. In the beginning it took place entirely in Vallecas, where the finish line is still maintained to this day. The rest of the route changes depending on the year. The starting line is currently located in the Plaza de los Sagrados Corazones, next to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

#Runners: In its first year, the race welcomed around 100 participants, of which only 57 made it to the finish line. In the late 80’s there were about 400 runners. The number rapidly increased to 30,000 in 2009 and 42,000 in its latest event.

#Winners: The first winner of the San Silvestre Vallecana was Jesús Hurtado, in 1964. The first female winner was María Luis Ares. In 2021, the male winner was Mohamed Katir el Haouzi (27’45”) and the female winner was Degitu Azimeraw Asires (30’26”).

#Records: So far, the best times belong to Jacon Kiplimo (26’54”) and Helen Obiri (29’54”). Both runners achieved their records in 2018.

#Refreshments: During this race, up to 55,000 bottles of water and 45,000 bottles of isotonic drinks will be handed out. Some 200 portable toilets will also be placed along the route.

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