Cidade Maravilhosa

Trip Start Jun 07, 2009
Trip End Aug 23, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Sunday, June 28, 2009

We arrived to our hotel on Copacabana Beach the Friday afternoon before the Sunday marathon. We had decided to remain low key for the next day to rest for the race, only leaving Copacabana to pick up our race packets downtown. The race course was a one-way route, requiring participants to catch one of the race shuttle buses at 5 am to the start, 26 miles away. The race was not scheduled to start until 8 am, so after the 45 minute bus ride we would be waiting around for an hour or so. We chose to sleep in and luckily found a couple to share the taxi with us.
The course paralleled the Rio shoreline, starting in the outer suburb of Barra, then passing through Barra, Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, ,and finishing in the park in Flamengo. So, for most of the race, the ocean is on the right and a mountain on the left. Here is a summary of how the race went for us-
Pre-start - Macumba
Darren gets water all over his shorts going number 2 in one of the foulest toilets he has ever seen (Water on the shorts from when they touched the lake on the floor)
Katie is worried that Darren will miss the start of the race.

Barra de Tijuca
Darren is feeling good and following a 3:45 pace, despite the distracting double overhead surf breaking 50 feet away.
Katie is feeling good and following the pace of a couple of women and a couple of men around her. The surf is a welcome distraction.

Sao Conrado aka Hill from Hell
Darren starts to lose energy and is serious need of an energy drink, and starts to slow drinks from the next water stand, which gives him hope that there would be water and energy drinks at the bottom of the next hill. Unfortunately, all of the energy drinks had been consumed or taken by aforementioned favela residents.
Katie is doing ok on the big hill...until she realizes how fricking big the hill is. People she was pacing with leave her in the dust when she walks for a minute. or 10.

Halfway down Ipanema beach, Darren jumps off of the course, buys a Gatorade knockoff, and chuggs. The sugary stuff tasted great, however this would be his downfall. The sugar hits his system quickly
Katie thought that the LAST big stretch of beach was Ipanema, and is very annoyed to find that there is even more to run. Thinking that Darren should have agreed to check out the route the day before.

By the middle of Copacabana (about mile 20), Darren felt like lying down to take a nap. He runs into the hotel to grab the camera to document the rest of the run.
Katie is walking at every water station, drinking water, then painfully starting to run again. During the walk a friendly old Brazillian man starts a conversation and ends up giving Katie a nice pep talk.

Pao de Azucar
Even the amazing view of Pao de Azucar and the bay below it could not prevent Darren from walking a few times. It was now close to noon, four hours into the race, and fairly warm.
Katie is not thinking about anything...just going.

As Darren closed in on the finish at the park, he was still hurting. He crossed the finish line, grabbed a snack and sat on the pavement, not wanting to move, within the finish corral. Kaite arrived a few minutes later.
Katie sees the final stretch. She also sees the people she was trying to keep up with earlier. “Slow and Steady wins the race :)“

We caught a taxi towards the hotel, and went directly to the McDonalds beachfront stand to enjoy some $0.20 ice cream cones. We had both been craving them for at least half the race. We took a shower and went to the concierge to ask about the soccer match that night. As it turned out, the game started at 6 and we needed to leave at 4 to get there in time. It was 3:30. We ran next door, grabbed a pizza and a beer and watched the US take a surprising 2-0 lead over Brasil in the first half of the Confederates Cup in SouthAfrica. The US team had not beaten the Brazillians for over 10 years, so the the Brazilians around us were a bit shocked. We left at half time to go to the match in Rio, between two of Rio;s most famous and rivaled teams Flamengo and Flumenense.  The stadium, Maracaņa, is the most famous and largest in Brasil.  The stadium reportedly used to hold 230,000 plus in the 1970īs, but it has undergone renovations to replace some of the “hooligan“ areas with boxed seats. The stadium still holds close to 119,000 and much to our chagrin, does not serve beer anymore (only near beer). After the 0-0 tied game (which was still very interesting as the fans of both side were very spirited) we headed to a local bar with an Aussie couple for a real dinner and a real beer.

The next day we rented bicycles and rode to Leblon, giving our legs a little bit of a warm up and stretch. Katie felt the need to change venues the next day and we moved to a bed and breakfast in the artistic/bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa, which sits on a ridge above the city and is filled with old mansions that are in various stages of disrepair.  The neighborhood started to decline in the 1970īs as two favelas grew on the lower part of the hillsides.  

We made the obligatory visit to the Christ the Redeemer statue, and then that night headed down the hill to Lapa, a neighborhood filled with samba bars and clubs. 
We bought a nice painting from an artist, figuring we would FedEx it the next day before leaving for Salvador. Apparently FedExing something is not as easy as we expected, and this painting would plague us for the rest of the trip.
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