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Features Funchal Marathon

25 February 2016, 12pm

Take a trip to one of the most captivating cities of the world and run towards happiness

A marathon in bloom

Maratona do Funchal
Sun 31 January 2016

At the time the race is held Europe is freezing but in Madeira Island it’s 19ºC, the sun shines and there is no wind: welcome to Funchal.

This extreme southwest corner of Europe is an idyllic place: one of the world’s safest holiday and leisure destinations and just an hour and a half’s flight away from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

A calm crystal-clear blue sea and breathtaking landscapes provide the background and inspiration for a great running competition which gathers locals alongside hundreds of tourists. Among them this year was Steve Edwards with a magnificent total of over 700 marathons under his belt, all run in less than three and a half hours.

The marathon is run on the main streets of Funchal which are in the main flat but the island itself is very hilly and some slopes are unavoidable. The diversity of landscapes, dazzling hotels, charming streets and blooming, perfumed gardens that you pass by provide interest and diversion.

Along the roads locals enthusiastically applaud and cheer the runners as the morning becomes even more colourful and full of life. The sun helps to warm the soul, providing comfort to visitors and helping them to notice more.

It is Cristiano Ronaldo’s island where one of the world’s best football players was born. Near to the finish line, beside the sea, is a bronze statue of him that stands and keeps guard over a museum to his honour: here CR7 has all his individual trophies – a must-see, among so many others.

At the finishing line the celebration starts, firstly with the prize-giving ceremony and secondly sharing some of Madeira’s traditions which enhance the friendly feelings that runners have shared along the course. The ‘bailinho’ is danced (a traditional folkloric dance to welcome visitors), the ‘bolo do caco’ (typical homemade bread) with garlic butter is eaten and the typical drinks are tasted. There are those who can’t resist the simple pleasures of life, like sitting and eating an ice cream, enjoying the warm weather and the bright sun that lightens the city.

Looking back down the course and remembering all that went before many runners promise themselves that they will return the following year. There is no escape and although the road may be hard in Madeira the effort is rewarded — so much so that almost no one quits before reaching the finish line. A local athlete won this year, Paulo Macedo, with only three seconds’ advantage over the second-placed athlete — a great competition.

These are the good energies that Madeira island provides. It’s a unique place, and yet so close, where the landscape, the culture, the gastronomy and the exceptional hotel service provide ideal reasons for relaxation and revitalisation that are so essential for health.

Apart from the main event, Funchal’s Marathon includes a Half Marathon and a Mini Marathon, as a way of providing sport to all, to whole families, giving them the opportunity of entering into the occasion in the Pearl of the Atlantic and enjoying a great journey.

In 2017 Funchal’s Marathon will take place on 29 January. Why don’t you take a trip to one of the most captivating cities of the world and run the race? This is Europe but the sun shines and transfers enough energy for you to keep pace, turn the autopilot on and run towards happiness.

Madeira Island, besides being one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in Europe, is perfect for combining tourism and sport. It may be impossible to please everyone but in Madeira it is possible to get the best of these two worlds, participating in a unique marathon and at the same time enjoying the local gastronomy and the overwhelming landscapes. Share this moment — bring your family.

Madeira was named as the World’s Leading Island Destination by the World Travel Awards in 2015. It is a place facing the sea and blessed by the sun, with a total area of 741 square kilometres (57km long and 22km wide). The weather is mild with an average temperature of 17ºC in winter and 25ºC in summer. Due to the influence of the Gulf Stream the sea is equally warm with average temperatures of 22ºC in summer and 18ºC in winter.

All this for so little: it is a safe, affordable destination.

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