After signing up for my first 100-mile race (160 km), I took a deep dive into the offerings of the world's running events. There are some incredibly awesome-looking marathons and ultramarathons in the world (like the Everest Marathon, the Marathon Des Sables, or the Great Wall Marathon, to name a few). Honestly, looking at them all got me pretty stoked about running; however, I'm still not completely warmed up to the actual running bit.
September – when my 100-mile race is scheduled to take place – still feels a long way off.
This summer, I'm finally making it back to one of my favorite places, Rio de Janeiro, after having my plans quashed in 2020. I have no particular goals for my time there beyond continuing to train, but I figured I would take a look at the foot-powered events on offer while I will be down there – enter the Rio de Janeiro Marathon.
Marathons and Me
For a while now I've had an interesting relationship with the marathon distance – 26.2 mi / 42 km.
It's a distance I regularly cover while hiking – a relatively short distance even. On a long-distance hike (when there's a defined, snow-free trail involved), hikers can regularly and consistently cover 30+ mi / 48 km per day. I've had multiple days hiking that in the 50+ mi / 80+ km range – two marathons. That said, this is over an entire day – not a few hours.
But hiking is not running – even if you're carrying a heavy backpack.
I signed up for the Rio de Janeiro Marathon on a whim. I feel my experience covering distance has been both helpful and hurtful. On the one hand, a marathon does not seem like that far a distance to me (this is why I decided to sign up for the 100-mile race); on the other hand, I feel that I'm vastly underestimating the level of difficulty presented by actually running a marathon. “I can walk two marathons in a day with a backpack on” does not translate to “I can run a marathon.”
Rio de Janeiro Marathon Oddities
There are a few things I've uncovered while researching and signing up for the Rio de Janeiro Marathon that I thought interesting and worth sharing.
It's twice as expensive if you sign up on the English-language website instead of the Brazilian website (in Portuguese).
Understanding Portuguese helps, but it wouldn't be difficult to figure things out even if you had no experience with the language (Google translate, etc.). You do need a local address in Brazil to sign up. I used a friend's address. That said, I don't know what would stop me from choosing an address at random. As far as I know, nothing is being sent there and there was no verification done.
The cost for a standard marathon entry (in English)? R$457.80 (~$98 US at the time of publication). The cost via the Brazilian site? R$239,80 (~$51.34 US at the time of publication).
There are both standard and VIP entries for the Rio de Janeiro Marathon.
Brazil is very much into having VIP tickets to events and apparently, marathons are no exception. But what does that mean? VIP marathon entry? Do you get better refreshments at aid stations? Does someone run next to you with a fan the entire time?
According to the Brazilian website, the standard entry (R$239.80 / ~$51.34 US) gets you: a shirt, a medal (if you finish within the time limit), your race number and chip, sponsor swag.
What do VIPs get? For R$468,70 / ~$100 US you'll get: a VIP shirt (WOW!), a medal (if you finish within the time limit), your race number and chip, exclusive items, an advanced starting position (those seconds are going to save you), and access to an exclusive VIP area (so mysterious – but apparently has a special bathroom).
So is it worth paying twice as much for the VIP entry? I guess we'll find out in June because of course I got the VIP entry (it will make me run faster, right?) It was essentially the same price for a VIP entry as if I had signed up for a standard entry via the English-language site so I figured, what the hell?
Goal Pace and Time
The Rio de Janeiro Marathon is on June 19 this year. I've been running consistently for nearly two months. By the time it's time to run in Rio, I will (hopefully) have been running regularly for closer to four.
Four months is probably a lot shorter than your average marathon prep plan would have you train for (I've yet to look too deeply into any). That said, I am not racing to win and no matter what my completion time is, it will be a personal best – so long as I finish. Worst case, I get a personal best and my long run for the week is a memorable one.
I have no real concept of what average marathon finishing times are, but here's what I've discovered:
- Two hours is essentially the cutoff for how quickly humans in their current evolutionary state are capable of running a marathon.
- Three hours is fast – if you're running a marathon in three hours or less, you're a dedicated runner.
- Four hours is just below the average for the average marathon time (which according to the first search result is 4:13 for men and 4:42 for women).
- Five plus hours is an average of 11:27 or slower per mile (~7:06 minute km) and (I guess?) on the slower side.
The cutoff for the Rio de Janeiro Marathon is six hours. I am relatively confident of my current ability to complete the course within this time (barring any serious injuries or complications). I would be stoked to break four hours (9:09/mi / 5:38/km) and it would be amazing (but highly unrealistic) to break 3:30 (8:00/mi / 4:58/km).
I'm also not looking forward to the potential for humidity. That said, it's the start of Brazil's winter and the average temperatures are between 68 and 77°F (20 to 25°C) – so not too bad? Honestly, I think I would prefer to run a marathon in near-freezing temperatures, but I'll have to save that one for another day.