Tuesday, November 15, 2011
San Silvestre Vallecana 2011
It's coming up to that time of the year again when more than 30,000 people in Madrid take to the streets to run 10k on the last day of the year. Apparently, this tradition started in 1924 in Sao Paolo and spread from there to Spain. "Silvestre" is the name of the Pope from the 4th century who is the patron Saint of New Year's Eve. Up and down the country races are run but the most famous San Silvestre race in Spain is the "San Silvestre Vallecana", so called because it finishes in the stadium in Vallecas, in the south of Madrid. The first edition was celebrated in the year 1964.
Now it is something of a corporate event as it is run by Nike. There are those that refuse to run it for that reason, saying that it has lost the "feel" that it had previously. The advantage of it being run by Nike is that it is extremely well organized and the T-shirt you get for taking part is very good quality (and well worth the 20€ that the inscription ends up costing). Really the question is whether you like running in a huge crowd - I have discovered that this is one of the things I most enjoy about races, in spite of the fact that I usually can't stand crowds. It is not the best race in which to get a Personal Best time unless you manage to get a good qualifying time in one of the few "homologated" races during the year, allowing you to start at the front - in this case, as the course is predominantly downhill, you have a good chance of getting a PB. But really you would be missing the point of the San Silvestre, which is to have fun.
Last year I ran the race in a dressing gown, boxer shorts and bathroom slippers. I only regretted not having worn socks as the deceptive fluffy lining of the slippers gave me some serious blisterage: the last few kilometers were hell. I also had to do a hop and a skip every hundred meters or so, just to keep the slippers on my feet. This year I will be running with my wife - yes, she says she is going to take part, although she doesn't think she'll be able to finish it (but I'm sure she will). I may, however, dress up - perhaps as one of the guys from Abba or something. Whatever I choose, it had better be reasonably warm because I could get quite cold running at my wife's pace...