For thousands of people, the year only ends when the São Silvestre race, the most traditional street race in Brazil, takes place on the last day of the year. There are 97 editions, it is held in São Paulo attracting athletes from all over the world, of all colors and ages.
“São Silvestre is an achievement”, said today (31) Josi dos Santos, an amateur runner from the city of Campo Alegre, in Santa Catarina. “At the end of the year it has to be São Silvestre”, she said, in an interview with Brazil Agency.
Josi has been competing in the competition for ten years. But three years ago, she made the decision to run with her husband Edernir, 48 years old, and her daughter Camila, a special woman who uses a wheelchair, 23 years old.
“We always ran alone. just the two of us [ela e o marido]. But now we put our daughter to run with her”, said the athlete.
“People think it is a difficult race. but for her [a filha] it’s a very welcoming race. Everyone includes her. We are not invisible. Before, we were invisible. Now, with her, we are no longer”, said Josi.
Her husband has participated in the competition since 1994. “It’s very emotional. I have no words to describe [como é correr a São Silvestre]. It’s really cool. There are more than 30,000 athletes participating and I’m here together [deles]”, said.
He added that the goal of running the race every year is not to beat any African athlete. Runners from Africa are always favourites. “The objective is to finish the race and be here”, said Edernir.
Nutritionist Angela Timóteo, 46, has been participating in São Silvestre for over five years. And to mark the moment, she always decides to run in costume, with her husband Valter Barbosa, 57 years old. He, from Chaves. She, from Chiquinha.
“For the first year, I wasn’t in costume. But then we decided to come from Chaves and Chiquinha and we saw that people liked it. Everyone was happy to see us,” she detailed.
The emotion of completing a race like this, said Angela, is only possible to feel running. “It’s just running so you know. It’s sensational”, she pointed out. For Angela, the year only ends after participating in São Silvestre. “[Nosso objetivo em 2023] is running again. We turn the year already thinking about São Silvestre next year”, she joked.
Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, Assenção de Fátima Serrano Dias Santos, 59, and Angelo Mansur Mendes, 60, prove that running to São Silvestre is ageless.
Assenção participates in the race for the first time. “I’m anxious. I take long distance walks. But an event like this is something different. And the energy is being very good. I already found friends and I’m happy. I’m turning 60 next year. And before 60 I wanted one [disputar uma] San Sylvester. Now, I want the medal to share with the family”, she said, who jokes that the race is a “rail run [mistura de corrida com caminhada] because there are several heavier routes, several climbs” and part of the route has to be done walking, not running.
Angelo Mansur Mendes has raced a São Silvestre before. “It was fun. You can’t even run straight because there are so many people. But the people are very excited. The reception of the people of São Paulo is fantastic, the people who come from abroad too, the energy is very nice. It is very good to be here, ”he confessed.
For him, who is already participating for the second time, the most difficult part of the race is not the end, the feared ascent of Avenida Brigadeiro Luiz Antônio, but the beginning.
“For me, the most difficult part is the beginning. You think you won’t make it. Then you begin to notice that you relax. At Brigadeiro, last year, they even offered me a chopp on the way up. It was very cool. We are now closing the year and I believe that next year will be much better”, concluded Angelo.