Monday, January 30, 2012

My First International Race: Corrida de Belém

Usually when the streets of Belem are eerily quiet and I'm disregarding traffic signals, I'm in a speeding car avoiding a possible assault at a stoplight late at night. (Don't be alarmed. This is common practice in Belém and in many other cities throughout Brazil.) Still, it was a funny feeling yesterday morning trotting down the middle of empty streets, running red lights and not having a care in the world- except staying hydrated, so I could finish the remainder of the 10-kilometer Corrida de Belém.

I found out about this annual road race shortly after I arrived in Belém last week and registered on the last possible day at the kiosk in the mall. There was no online registration. For $20 Brazilian Real (about $17 US dollars) I got a racing number, a chip for my shoe, the official singlet, and instructions to show up at the starting line in front of the shopping mall by 7am the following Sunday.

The last race I completed was the New York City Marathon in November, where, along the route, I snapped fotos of every physical manifestation of Brazilian participation, whether they be flags or yellow and green shirts proudly boasting the runner's country of origin. This time however, I should have been the one wearing an I heart New York City t-shirt. While I usually make a conscious effort to blend in with the Brazilian crowd, during the corrida, I felt an unusual desire to stand out as a foreigner participating in an important community event. 

Along with 2,000 men and women from the state of Pará and beyond, I raced through Belém's historic districts to commemorate the capital city's 396th anniversary. The event was sponsored by O Jornal Liberal and the Municipal Secretariat of Sports, Youth and Leisure. Adelson Alves Rodrigues won the men's categories with a time of 30 minutes, 40 seconds, and Larrise Nascimento, a runner from the neighboring state of Maranhão, was the first woman to finish in 36 minutes 18 seconds.

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