Parque Ecológico Chico Mendes
It may be Brazilian runners' marathon of choice but in the past spectators have been rather notable by their absence in support of the thousands of athletes putting themselves through the gruelling (but beautiful!) 42 kilometre course that comprises the Rio Marathon. Seen by some as merely an obstacle between themselves and the beach, the carioca race is afforded less kudos here than in cities like London, New York or Tokyo.
That won't stop tens of thousands of participants setting off from the Recreio starting point at 8am, keeping a coastal route all the way to Flamengo Park that makes the route mercifully flat bar a small incline up to Vidigal, and with the lower tier of the double-stack Via Elevada das Bandeiras closed to traffic it has its share of awe-inspiring moments. Popping out at the southern end of Copacabana and seeing the full sweep of beach before you with Sugarloaf Mountain at its conclusion is exactly the kind of goose-bump moment that marathon runners rely on to summon up that final push.
For spectators, the beachfront kiosks will provide the perfect vantage point from which to watch the action. Kicking back with an ice-cold coconut while hundreds of people struggle by does pose a few moral dilemmas however, and so the vast majority of interested people flock to the finale at Flamengo Park to welcome their broken but proud souls cross the finish line.
It may be easy on the eye, but with barely any shade to count on and temperatures usually in the the high twenties the weather, as well as the sunseekers, can play a big part in the race. The 400,000 cups of water and R$20,000 prize money up for grabs should be enough to keep the athletes moving.