Regarded as the main international event in Latin American athletics, the Brazilian competition is held yearly in the city of São Paulo on December 31. This day is Saint Silvester's Day, as it is the day in which the Catholic saint, who was a Pope, died in the 4th century of the Christian Era.
São Paulo's race was originally known as a "marathon", although the course of the race, whose length has varied considerably over the years, was never that of a full marathon. Because of that, the organization eventually dropped the term "marathon", starting to refer to the event as a "race", "international race" or "road race". There was never an official effort on the part of the organization to address the change in the nomenclature, which causes many, including some media outlets, to continue using the term "Saint Silvester Marathon" when referring to the event. Its course is only 15 km (9.3 mi) long, less than half the length of a marathon but the race is made more difficult by the intense heat of the Brazilian summer and the geographical obstacles that have to be surmounted by the athletes.
Several other places like Amadora and Porto in Portugal (Corrida de São Silvestre), Calderara di Reno (Maratona di San Silvestro) and Bolzano (BOclassic) in Italy, and Madrid in Spain (San Silvestre Vallecana), organize yearly Saint Silvester road races or marathons every late December.
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