7. Rio de Janeiro

Brazil – a country famous for football, capirihinas, carnivals and bums!

Just three weeks after I returned from Borneo I repacked my rucksack and left for Rio de Janeiro. I had been to Brazil once before -I travelled some of South America with my friend and house mate at the time Jayde, after we had finished our first year at uni. And of all the places we visited on that trip the best memories were made in Rio de Janeiro.

I’m not normally someone who visits a place over and over again – I think the world is too small to stick to the same old places and I like exploring new destinations rather than going back to places I’ve been before. However when it came to choosing which marathon to run in South America, I was lured back to Rio with the promise of its carnival atmosphere, party vibes, beautiful beaches and all round charm.
And it certainly didn’t disappoint.

I was staying in a hostel located in Gloria a district in the north-eastern part of the city. I chose this neighbourhood because it was located near the finish line, meaning it would be close for me to hobble home after completing the run. The hostel was great and I met a load of really fun people who I spent the days before the race with.

The only problem I had with the Rio marathon was that all the correspondence about the race was in Portuguese. Despite the best efforts of Google translate, there were a few things that got lost in translation.

The day before the race I went to pick up my bib at the race expo. I had worked out where the expo was and when I arrived at the huge conference centre I saw a big sign for “foreign runners”, so joined the end of the queue. When I reached the front of the queue the man at the desk told me I was in the wrong place and said I had to go to the “elite VIP” area. I  burst out laughing and told him there must be a mistake, but he was adamant my name was on the VIP list, so I headed in that direction. I am still pretty certain they made a mistake by putting my name on that list, but I didn’t question it any further because it meant I got a goodie bag stuffed full with running goodies including two t-shirts, socks, a towel, energy gels and a medal holder. And more importantly as I learnt on race day, the elite athletes had their own special reserved area at the start line with a breakfast buffet and amazingly their own portaloos which DIDN’T HAVE A QUEUE and HAD TOILET PAPER!!! Another perk was that we got to start the race ahead of everyone else. As I lined up ready to begin the marathon, mingling with the man wearing the number 1 bib number I couldn’t believe how far I had come over the past year. I couldn’t believe I was in BRAZIL running the same marathon route as the Olympians in the Rio Olympics in 2016!

The marathon route did not disappoint – it was an absolutely beautiful 26.2 miles along the coast. For the whole race when I looked to my right I saw golden sandy beaches, crystal clear water and Brazilian bums in the tiniest bikinis ever made! What more could a girl want!! Perhaps the only downside to the run (although I definitely thought it was a plus for the rest of my trip) was the weather. The sky was clear and blue, meaning the sun beamed down upon us for the whole race, making it pretty hot. Not as hot as Borneo (thank God) but it was still around 28 degrees, so it certainly wasn’t easy.

I absolutely loved the Rio marathon route, especially near the end when we ran along Ipanema and Copacabana beach and finished with Sugarloaf mountain rising in front of us and Christ the Redeemer looking down upon us. It is a race I enjoyed from start to finish.

This trip to Rio was certainly different to my first visit seven years earlier (there was certainly no partying in favelas, lusting over Danish guys or lolling about David Seaman lookalikes on my second trip to the city). They were very different experiences, but Rio captivated me with its’ charm once again.

Or should I say captured rather than captivated?

If only Rio was as easy to leave as it was to enter… (see next blog for more details)…

Rio de Janeiro: 3 hours 50 minutes

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