Our guide Christina Duarte told us early that day that a 1o-kilometer road race would start and end right outside our hotel room window, just across from the beach. It was a hot summer day, but fortunately, the start was at 7 pm when it had cooled off some. By 6 pm, runners began to gather while crews finished up with the course infrastructure – barricades, a starting line and overhead clock.
Related festivities were taking place right next to the starting line, as couples in traditional costumes performed regional folk dances to music.
Meanwhile, at the starting line, as maybe 150 runners lined up, the anticipation was building. The Portuguese have a history of distance running excellence. Over 30 years ago, working in California’s Central valley, I walked into a cafe in a town called Gustine, which had a large Portuguese-American population. There were newspaper clippings on the wall about several hopefuls preparing to compete in the Olympics in Los Angeles later that summer. Carlos Lopes won the men’s marathon that year, while Rosa Mota got the bronze medal in the women’s. She would win the gold medal 4 years later. Fernando Mamede held the world record for the 10,000 meter distance. These are just a few. Maybe one of the runners at the start line in Nazare would be next.
Is the winner in this photo?
The images below tell the story. About 10 minutes after the start, the leader came through, at least a minute ahead and seemingly in command. There was a tight race for second place.
It was a spectacle for both young and old