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I'm thinking specifically of two classic races, San Silvestre de Vallecana and the Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre, but those are far from the only such races. What is it about this saint that gets road races where others don't?

Is it as as simple as New Year's Eve being the saint's feast day and also a convenient day for road racing (in the same way that Thanksgiving is a big day for road racing in the USA)? Or is there something particular to associate the saint with running?

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This is not actually a running specific thing, or specific to any festival. This also happens with events such as the Edinburgh Loony Dook on the 1st of January every year, and these are not associated with Saint Silvestre (who is relatively unknown in the UK.)

Big festivals or celebrations such as New Year's Eve / Hogmanay / etc. have a few features that are interesting which make them suitable for large events:

  • they are holidays, so participants do not need to take time off work
  • large groups of people will be in one area anyway, with family and friends, to celebrate the festival, so can all enter
  • traffic is usually very light, as people do not travel, so closing roads is easier than at peak travel times
  • with New Year events, participants may join in order to burn off some of the excess calories they ate over the festive season. Guilt is a good driver for sports!

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