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Race previews Discoveries Half Marathon

11 July 2021, 7am

Find history and culture in the European capital of sport

Discoveries past and present

Discoveries Half Marathon
Sun 5 December 2021


The Half-Marathon of the Discoveries commemorates the epic voyages undertaken by Portuguese explorers in the late 15th and early 16th centuries to open up sea routes to Asia and the Americas. It is undoubtedly one of the richest periods of Portuguese history in which ‘new worlds’ were introduced to Europe.

Taking advantage of the long-distance tradition in Portugal, inspired by the Olympic Marathon victories of Carlos Lopes and Rosa Mota (1984, 1988) and by Lisbon’s favourable all-year-round climate, this event was created in December 2013. Its main objective is to mark the discoveries of five centuries ago and attract tourists to Lisbon to discover the historical and cultural qualities of the city, its gastronomic wealth and the hospitality of its people.

The race starts and finishes at Praça do Império, located in the Belém neighborhood, from where the ‘Discoverers’ set sail. There lies the Jerónimos Monastery, built by King D Manuel I at the end of the 15th century; the Torre de Belém – a maritime fortification built between 1514–1520 which is one of the symbols of the city; and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or Monuments of the Navigators more recently built in 1960 as a tribute to sailors that manned the caravels. All these monuments are clustered on the right bank of the River Tagus, the main axis of communication with the Atlantic Ocean, through which the fragile vessels of that time departed, destined to conquer the ‘new’ world.

Although Lisbon is known as the city of the seven hills the race route is almost completely flat as it traces an out-and-back course along the embankment of the Tagus. The turnaround point is in Praça do Comércio, in the city’s ‘gridiron’ centre built after the great earthquake of 1755 and now a great part of the city’s picturesque appeal.

The race programme also includes a 10km run and another 5km fun run (or walk) intended to involve the largest possible number of participants. This turns the first Sunday of December into a big street party. This year’s edition, after last year’s interruption from the covid-19 pandemic, is eagerly anticipated as one of those scheduled for the post-pandemic period. which has kept the world in check for the last year. Portugal is among the first few countries in the world to achieve favourable indicators in the control of the disease which makes attractive as a safe destination.

Lisbon was chosen this year as the European Capital of Sport with the objectives of projecting the city through international and national competitions; recognising the importance of physical activity and sport in building a human, modern and sustainable city; and promoting healthy living habits and physical activity. This continues the strategic investment made in promotion of Lisbon as European Green Capital 2020. This year’s objectives are to promote the full use of all green infrastructures, bike lanes and outdoor sports spaces and to increase the quality of life of citizens and all those who visit the city.

The race is organised by Xistarca, a pioneer of road running in Portugal having previously staged 27 editions of the Lisbon Marathon. Come to Lisbon and enjoy one of the best races of its kind in Europe.

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