Welp, I did it. I ran the Corrida Sagrada- all 6.8 kilometers or 4.2 miles of it, and it took me just under 36 minutes to do so. This was actually faster than I expected, so that was a pleasant surprise. I got myself a medal for participating, plus a bag with a banana, an apple, and an energy bar in it.
What I didn't get was any photos of my moment of glory, although I've heard reports that I was sighted on television- not sure I believe them. The race was a trip, but more about that in a minute. First I'd like to reflect upon the time I walked to Bonfim in 2009, with dubious results. I developed a severe cramp and in my post about it I whined about my impending old age. Well I'll tell you friend, you can be old and you can run fast- there were folks 10 or 20 years older than me running today who came in with better times than my own.
This post isn't turning out the way I had anticipated. I'm tired and should just go to bed. But let me choke out a couple more paragraphs before I do.
The race was strange for a lot of reasons. First and most obviously because I'd never participated in anything like that before, and had no idea what I was supposed to do. Unfortunately, that's when I was apparently caught on camera, when I was standing around like a dork with no clue. As I looked around, everyone looked in better shape than me, so I opted to start at the back of the pack. Once we started running things improved. I quickly discovered I was in better shape than many of the participants, so I got to pass a whole bunch of people which is always fun. I hit my stride and enjoyed having the road, normally a nightmare of traffic and pedestrians, pretty much all to ourselves.
Probably the weirdest thing about the race is that we were not the main attraction - we were barely an appetizer. All around us, for the entire distance, people were setting up coolers and stocking them with beer - preparing for the crush of thousands that were to come several hours later. Many people looked surprised to see us, and there was a fair bit of half-teasing, half-mocking encouragement shouted at us. "Vai Coroa!" was quite popular, a coroa being someone getting on into middle age (it also means 'crown'), but whether this was being shouted at me or another coroa I couldn't say.
Starting the race at 7:30, I arrived at the finish line at a little past eight, which is insanely early for me to be out of the house, let alone finished with my main task for the day. It was extremely pleasant to be at the Igreja de Bonfim so early, as it was mellow and not crowded - I was able to catch my breath, eat my fruit, and tie some ribbons onto the gates of the church before I started back. One of the only things I brought with me was a little bag filled with suntan lotion that I pinned into my waistband, so I slathered up and started for home. It took me over two hours to get there. I got to see the whole procession in reverse, and it devolved from anticipation to debauchery in a hurry. I ran into several people I knew, including my wife. I was back home at just after noon.
Perhaps the most unusual thing about the whole day is that I didn't have so much as a sip of beer. Better yet- I didn't miss it.