Saint Silvester Road Race
Regarded as the main international event in Latin American athletics, the Brazilian competition is held yearly in the city of São Paulo on December 31. This day is Saint Silvester's Day, as it is the day in which the Catholic saint, who was a Pope, died in the 4th century of the Christian Era.
São Paulo's race was originally known as a "marathon", although the course of the race, whose length has varied considerably over the years, was never that of a full marathon. Because of that, the organization eventually dropped the term "marathon", starting to refer to the event as a "race", "international race" or "road race". There was never an official effort on the part of the organization to address the change in the nomenclature, which causes many, including some media outlets, to continue using the term "Saint Silvester Marathon" when referring to the event. Its course is only 15 km (9.3 mi) long, less than half the length of a marathon but the race is made more difficult by the intense heat of the Brazilian summer and the geographical obstacles that have to be surmounted by the athletes.
Several other places like Amadora, Porto and Volta à cidade do Funchal in Portugal (Corrida de São Silvestre), Calderara di Reno (Maratona di San Silvestro) and Bolzano (BOclassic) in Italy, and Madrid in Spain (San Silvestre Vallecana), organize yearly Saint Silvester road races or marathons every late December.
Cásper Líbero, a "media millionaire" of the early 20th century Brazil, is credited with originally coming up with the idea for the race. He used it as a means of promoting his newspaper. In 1928, the year of the race's 4th edition, he founded one of the first sports newspapers of the country, the Gazeta Esportiva (the Sportive Gazette), which then became the race's official organizer and sponsor. The race would be the main advertising element of this sports newspaper.
The race was held for the first time on December 31, 1925. Unlike most events as old or older, it has not been interrupted or suspended even once during its history, not even for the duration of World War II.
Originally, it was intended for men only, and participation was restricted to citizens of the city of São Paulo. In the following years, runners from other parts of the country joined the race, but it was not until 1941 that a runner not from the city of São Paulo won the race: José Tibúrcio dos Santos, of Minas Gerais, another Brazilian state. At that time, the event was not yet open to foreign participation. That meant that athletes from other countries could not come in to participate, but foreigners residing in the city of São Paulo (immigrants) were free to enroll. Because of this, Italian Heitor Blasi was the only foreigner to have won the race before 1947.
In 1945 the field was opened so that foreign runners could participate. The first international race was restricted to invited runners from South America, but the success of the first two "international events" led race organizers to open the event to the rest of the world in 1947. That year marked the beginning of a 34-year-long period during which no Brazilian man won the event, until José João da Silva, from Pernambuco, won in 1980 (he would repeat the feat in 1985).
The event would remain a men-only affair until 1975, when the United Nations declared that year as the International Year of Women. In commemoration of this, the race organizers held the women's race for the first time. The women's race started as an open event, and the first Brazilian victory would come only in its 20th edition (in 1995), when Carmem Oliveira won.
Since 1993, a shorter race for children is held a few days before the main event (dubbed "São Silvestrinha", or "Little Saint Silvester" – a unisex event).
Until 1988, the race took place at night, approaching the New Year's, but the year of 1989 saw substantial changes in the race's format, in order to comply with the rules of the IAAF. The time of the race was altered (to 3:00 p.m. for women and 5:00 p.m. for men), the course direction was reversed, and men and women, who used to run together, had their races separated. In 1991, the length of the race was extended to 15,000 meters (the distance for the event used to vary almost yearly, usually between 6.5 km and 8.8 km). This variance needed to be corrected in order to meet the requirements of the Federation of Athletics. The race was recognized internationally in that year of 1989.
Growth and prestige
For the first race, in 1925, 60 people filled applications to participate, but only 48 actually showed up on the day of the race. Of these, only 37 were officially qualified, since the rules then required that all runners had to finish within 3 minutes of the winner in order to qualify in the final board.
In 2004, 13,000 men and 2,000 women participated in their respective events.
Although the event had been open since 1945, it would become a noteworthy affair in the international calendar only in 1953, when the most famous runner of the time (and arguably of all time), Emil Zátopek, participated and won the race. In recent times, the foremost long distance runners of the last two decades (almost all of them, with the exception of Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia) have participated at least once in the event.
The principal winner of all times is now Paul Tergat, of Kenya, who has won the race 5 times (1995, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000). He also holds the record time for the present distance of 15 km, having won his very first race in São Paulo with a time of 43 minutes and 12 seconds.
|Edition||Year||Men's winner||Time (m:s)||Distance||Women's winner||Time (m:s)||Distance|
|1st||1925||Alfredo Gomes (BRA)||23:10||6.2 km||Not held|
|2nd||1926||Jorge Mancebo (BRA)||22:32||6.2 km|
|3rd||1927||Heitor Blasi (ITA)||23:00||6.2 km|
|4th||1928||Salim Maluf (BRA)||29:11||8.8 km|
|5th||1929||Heitor Blasi (ITA)||29:11||8.8 km|
|6th||1930||Murilo de Araújo (BRA)||25:35||8.8 km|
|7th||1931||José Agnello (BRA)||26:05||8.2 km|
|8th||1932||Nestor Gomes (BRA)||25:23||8.8 km|
|9th||1933||Nestor Gomes (BRA)||23:50||7.6 km|
|10th||1934||Alfredo Carletti (BRA)||24:10||7.6 km|
|11th||1935||Nestor Gomes (BRA)||25:51||7.6 km|
|12th||1936||Mario de Oliveira (BRA)||23:38||7.6 km|
|13th||1937||Mario de Oliveira (BRA)||23:26||7.6 km|
|14th||1938||Armando Martins (BRA)||23:38||7.6 km|
|15th||1939||Luiz Del Greco (BRA)||24:50||7.6 km|
|16th||1940||Antônio Alves (BRA)||23:14||7 km|
|17th||1941||José Tibúrcio dos Santos (BRA)||22:12||7 km|
|18th||1942||Joaquim Gonçalves da Silva (BRA)||17:02||5.5 km|
|19th||1943||Joaquim Gonçalves da Silva (BRA)||17:31||5.5 km|
|20th||1944||Joaquim Gonçalves da Silva (BRA)||17:40||5.5 km|
|21st||1945||Sebastião Alves Monteiro (BRA)||21:54||7 km||Not held|
|22nd||1946||Sebastião Alves Monteiro (BRA)||21:57||7 km|
|23rd||1947||Oscar Moreira (URU)||21:45||7 km|
|24th||1948||Raúl Inostroza (CHI)||22:18||7 km|
|25th||1949||Viljo Heino (FIN)||22:45||7.3 km|
|26th||1950||Lucien Theys (BEL)||22:37||7.3 km|
|27th||1951||Erik Krucziky (FRG)||22:26||7.3 km|
|28th||1952||Franjo Mihalić (YUG)||21:38||7.3 km|
|29th||1953||Emil Zátopek (TCH)||20:30||7.3 km|
|30th||1954||Franjo Mihalić (YUG)||21:51||7.4 km|
|31st||1955||Kenneth Norris (GBR)||22:18||7.4 km|
|32nd||1956||Manoel Faria (POR)||21:58||7.3 km|
|33rd||1957||Manoel Faria (POR)||21:37||7.3 km|
|34th||1958||Osvaldo Suárez (ARG)||21:40||7.4 km|
|35th||1959||Osvaldo Suárez (ARG)||21:55||7.4 km|
|36th||1960||Osvaldo Suárez (ARG)||22:02||7.4 km|
|37th||1961||Martin Hyman (GBR)||21:24||7.4 km|
|38th||1962||Hamoud Ameur (FRA)||22:08||7.4 km|
|39th||1963||Henry Clerckx (BEL)||21:55||7.4 km|
|40th||1964||Gaston Roelants (BEL)||21:37||7.4 km|
|41st||1965||Gaston Roelants (BEL)||21:20||7.4 km|
|42nd||1966||Álvaro Mejía Florez (COL)||29:57||9.2 km|
|43rd||1967||Gaston Roelants (BEL)||24:31||8.7 km|
|44th||1968||Gaston Roelants (BEL)||24:32||8.7 km|
|45th||1969||Juan Martínez (MEX)||24:02||8.7 km|
|46th||1970||Frank Shorter (USA)||24:27||8.9 km|
|47th||1971||Rafael Tadeo Palomares (MEX)||23:47||8.9 km|
|48th||1972||Víctor Mora (COL)||23:24||8.9 km|
|49th||1973||Víctor Mora (COL)||23:25||8.9 km|
|50th||1974||Rafael Ángel Pérez (CRC)||23:58||8.9 km|
|51st||1975||Víctor Mora (COL)||23:13||8.9 km||Christa Vahlensieck (FRG)||28:39||8.9 km|
|52nd||1976||Edmundo Warnke (CHI)||23:50||8.9 km||Christa Vahlensieck (FRG)||28:36||8.9 km|
|53rd||1977||Domingo Tibaduiza (COL)||23:55||8.9 km||Loa Olafsson (DEN)||27:15||8.9 km|
|54th||1978||Radhouane Bouster (FRA)||23:51||8.9 km||Dana Slater (USA)||28:55||8.9 km|
|55th||1979||Herb Lindsay (USA)||23:26||9 km||Dana Slater (USA)||29:07||9 km|
|56th||1980||José João da Silva (BRA)||23:40||8.9 km||Heidi Hutterer (FRG)||27:48||8.9 km|
|57th||1981||Víctor Mora (COL)||23:30||8.9 km||Rosa Mota (POR)||26:45||8.9 km|
|58th||1982||Carlos Lopes (POR)||39:41||13.548 km||Rosa Mota (POR)||47:21||13.548 km|
|59th||1983||João da Mata (BRA)||37:39||12.6 km||Rosa Mota (POR)||43:44||12.6 km|
|60th||1984||Carlos Lopes (POR)||36:43||12.640 km||Rosa Mota (POR)||43:35||12.640 km|
|61st||1985||José João da Silva (BRA)||36:48||12.640 km||Rosa Mota (POR)||43:00||12.640 km|
|62nd||1986||Rolando Vera (ECU)||36:45||12.6 km||Rosa Mota (POR)||43:25||12.6 km|
|63rd||1987||Rolando Vera (ECU)||39:02||13 km||Martha Tenorio (ECU)||46:27||13 km|
|64th||1988||Rolando Vera (ECU)||36:23||12.630 km||Aurora Cunha (POR)||42:12||12.630 km|
|65th||1989||Rolando Vera (ECU)||36:45||12.650 km||María del Carmen Díaz (MEX)||43:52||12.650 km|
|66th||1990||Arturo Barrios (MEX)||35:58||12.640 km||María del Carmen Díaz (MEX)||43:16||12.640 km|
|67th||1991||Arturo Barrios (MEX)||44:04||15 km||María Luisa Servín (MEX)||54:02||15 km|
|68th||1992||Simon Chemwoyo (KEN)||44:08||15 km||María del Carmen Díaz (MEX)||54:00||15 km|
|69th||1993||Simon Chemwoyo (KEN)||43:20||15 km||Helen Kimaiyo (KEN)||50:26||15 km|
|70th||1994||Ronaldo da Costa (BRA)||44:11||15 km||Derartu Tulu (ETH)||51:17||15 km|
|71st||1995||Paul Tergat (KEN)||43:12||15 km||Carmen Oliveira (BRA)||50:53||15 km|
|72nd||1996||Paul Tergat (KEN)||43:50||15 km||Roseli Machado (BRA)||52:32||15 km|
|73rd||1997||Émerson Iser Bem (BRA)||44:40||15 km||Martha Tenorio (ECU)||52:03||15 km|
|74th||1998||Paul Tergat (KEN)||44:47||15 km||Olivera Jevtić (YUG)||51:35||15 km|
|75th||1999||Paul Tergat (KEN)||44:35||15 km||Lydia Cheromei (KEN)||51:29||15 km|
|76th||2000||Paul Tergat (KEN)||43:57||15 km||Lydia Cheromei (KEN)||50:33||15 km|
|77th||2001||Tesfaye Jifar (ETH)||44:15||15 km||Maria Zeferina Baldaia (BRA)||52:09||15 km|
|78th||2002||Robert Cheruiyot (KEN)||44:59||15 km||Marizete de Paula Rezende (BRA)||54:02||15 km|
|79th||2003||Marílson Gomes dos Santos (BRA)||43:49||15 km||Margaret Okayo (KEN)||51:24||15 km|
|80th||2004||Robert Cheruiyot (KEN)||44:43||15 km||Lydia Cheromei (KEN)||52:58||15 km|
|81st||2005||Marílson Gomes dos Santos (BRA)||44:19||15 km||Olivera Jevtić (SCG)||51:37||15 km|
|82nd||2006||Franck de Almeida (BRA)||44:06||15 km||Lucélia Peres (BRA)||51:23||15 km|
|83rd||2007||Robert Cheruiyot (KEN)||45:54||15 km||Alice Timbilil (KEN)||51:37||15 km|
|84th||2008||James Kipsang Kwambai (KEN)||44:42||15 km||Wude Ayalew Yimer (ETH)||51:37||15 km|
|85th||2009||James Kipsang Kwambai (KEN)||44:40||15 km||Pasalia Kipkoech Chepkorir (KEN)||52:30||15 km|
|86th||2010||Marílson Gomes dos Santos (BRA)||44:07||15 km||Alice Timbilil (KEN)||50:19||15 km|
|87th||2011||Tariku Bekele (ETH)||43:35||15 km||Priscah Jeptoo (KEN)||48:48||15 km|
|88th||2012||Edwin Kipsang (KEN)||44:05||15 km||Maurine Kipchumba (KEN)||51:42||15 km|
|89th||2013||Edwin Kipsang (KEN)||43:48||15 km||Nancy Kipron (KEN)||51:58||15 km|
Titles by country
|Serbia and Montenegro||0||2||2|
- "Google search:media outlets still use the term "Saint Silvester Marathon"". Google.br. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
- (Portuguese) Rui Silva e Sara Moreira vencem São Silvestre do Porto, Público (December 28, 2008)
- (Italian) Maratona di San Silvestro
- Official website (Portuguese)