Christmas keeps on giving in Lisbon

Despite it not being a public holiday in Portugal, there is still a party atmosphere as thousands of runners take to the streets of Lisbon on 26 December every year for the El Corte Ingles Sao Silvestre de Lisboa.

Running 10km at 5.30pm the day after Christmas might not sound the most appealing proposition, but the race showcases the beauty of Lisbon and allows runners to take in the city’s wonderful Christmas lights from a unique perspective. Staged on the main avenue of Portugal’s capital, ‘Avenida da Liberdade’, organisers believe their event is more than just a race, but a chance to create unforgettable life experiences.

Compared to many of Europe’s major city road races, Sao Silvestre de Lisboa is still very much in its infancy, having been founded in 2008, which makes the 12,000 runners expected for this year’s edition all the more impressive. With over 3,000 participants in the inaugural addition the race has grown steadily year on year and is now an impressive spectacle.

Last year saw the race incorporate ‘waves’ for the first time to enhance the race experience. With the route lined with music, the atmosphere is second to none and with a full range of kids races, the event really does cater for everyone.

Another quirky feature adopted by the organisers is a ‘fastest last km’ competition, won by Portuguese duo Joao Pereira and Ana Dulce Felix in 2014. The race also pits men vs women, another nice touch that provides some friendly rivalry for everyone involved.

The route, which traverses Lisbon’s city centre, is extremely straight and almost pan-flat with just a small climb in the latter stages; however that is offset by the last mile, which is downhill all the way. This makes the course ideal for fast times and first timers alike.

Proudly displaying its European Athletics Running for All 5-Star certification in the middle of its homepage, the race certainly deserves this status according to Director Hugo Sousa.

“We're very pleased with our 5-Star certification - it's definitely recognition of El Corte Inglés São Silvestre de Lisboa's high quality and, of course, of our hard work throughout the years to develop this event so that it becomes an even greater experience for all runners.

“The standards are a very important step for the running community because it guarantees the quality of an event anywhere in Europe. Whether you're a foreigner or a resident, it doesn't matter; you'll know the standards to expect from any given race. That makes the decision making process much easier and we firmly believe that Running for All will help ensure running events meet every runners expectations.”

The 2015 edition sees further improvements, including a new payment system, which makes life easier for those entering from abroad. There is also the addition of the HMS Sports Cup, a team competition where the first three runners’ cumulative times will decide the winners.

For further information on the El Corte Ingles Sao Silvestre de Lisboa, which takes place on 26 December, visit http://www.saosilvestredelisboa.com.

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