Portugal hosts two marathons per year. In October, the Marathon of Lisbon, from Cascais, along the Tagus River, to Lisbon, and in November the Marathon of Oporto. Last week we had the pleasure to be present at the press conference of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon of Lisbon, which takes place during the same day as the full Marathon of Lisbon, being part of the same event. This year, this running party in Lisbon will take place on Sunday October 18th.

We have participated in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon of Lisbon for a few times and it truly is a great party that, given the nice weather conditions and outstanding route, makes Lisbon and interesting running destination. Let us introduce you to the three races that make part of this event.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon

The Lisbon Marathon used to be held in the month of December. Since 2013 the Marathon has been rebranded as the EDP Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon and moved to October. This Marathon, despite being called the Marathon of Lisbon, starts in Cascais, a picturesque fishermen town about 30km from Lisbon. The Lisbon Marathon takes place at the same time as the half marathon of Lisbon that starts on the Vasco da Gama Bridge in the city of Lisbon.

The race begins at 8:30 AM, to avoid the heat that sometimes still surprises runners in October. The start line is in Cascais and the course route runs for 42195 meters on the road, along the Tagus River, in direction to Lisbon. This road is stunning as it continuously has breath-taking views along the Tagus River. Be aware that it is not flat and you’ll encounter some hills along the way. Before reaching the finish at Parque das Nações, the same location where the Mini and Half Marathon finish, you’ll pass by Lisbon’s city centre, Terreiro do Paço.

The Marathon and Half Marathon participants share the last 8km of the race. This is actually very nice because some Full and Half Marathoners will meet here and can support each other. This is one of our favourite moments of the race. And, as a Half Marathoner, I can tell you the Full Marathoners really appreciate our cheering. To avoid confusion, Marathoners are directed to stay to the right and Half Marathoners to the left.

In 2014, Samuel Ndungu and Visiline Jepkesho, both from Kenya, were the big champions of the 2014 EDP Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon. Jepkesho, of only 26, set a record for the fastest female marathon ever held in Portugal (2:26:47), cutting five minutes off the course record and two minutes off her own personal best. Among the men, Ndungu (2:08:21) also set new record for the fastest marathon male performance in Portugal. So, despite the hilly course route, the race is still rather fast. Maybe because of the inspiring surroundings ;)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Half Marathon

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon of Lisbon, has a capacity of 17 thousand participants. Already more than 16 thousand BIP numbers have been attributed, so the party is guaranteed. In 2015, the emblematic Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Half Marathon has renewed its title of “Gold Road Race” (the highest distinction by the IAAF – International Association of Athletics Federations). This year, the Lisbon Half Marathon will host the largest number of foreign elite athletes ever.

The Half Marathon is a competitive, timed race.  With a distance of precisely 21 095 meters, it starts on the Vasco da Gama Bridge at 10:30 AM.  The Vasco da Gama Bridge is 17km (11 miles) long, making it the longest bridge in Europe when it opened in 1998 and still today one of the longest in the world (it has the same length as the road-rail tunnel-bridge linking Denmark and Sweden). The race will not start on the other side of the river, but abut in the middle, which gives you amazing views over Lisbon! This superb feat of engineering was inaugurated in 1998, just in time to carry visitors to the Expo98, which was held in Parque das Nações, where the finish line of the three races is.

The Half Marathon and Mini Marathon begin together on the bridge, but the Mini Marathon starts behind the Half Marathon. To get to the starting line on the bridge, the organization provides a free, mandatory bus service. Buses leave from the Vasco da Gama shopping centre, from 7:30 until 09:00 am. By bus is the only way to reach the starting line.

The Elite Athletes start near the Expo Area, just like the Wheelchair Race. Only athletes selected and invited by the organization can start from the Expo Area. We prefer to start on the bridge anyway! :D

From the bridge, we will head in direction to the city center. The majority of the course route takes place in the new part of the city, Parque das Nações, characterized by its modern buildings, both for residential and business purposes. Just like the full marathon, the race route goes a lot in line with the Tagus river and has got some challenging hills.

Mini Marathon

If you do not feel ready to run a half marathon or if you’re accompanying someone who does another race and you actually prefer walking rather than running, the Mini Marathon is for you. The Mini Marathon, of about 5,5km is designed for those who want to experience all the fun of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the stunning sights on the Vasco da Gama Bridge at a more accessible distance.

The Mini Marathon of Lisbon is a non-timed event. It starts at the same place as the Lisbon Half Marathon, on the Vasco da Gama Bridge and the same busses to get there should be used. The finish line is also on the same place of the Lisbon Half Marathon and the Lisbon Marathon. The Mini Marathon is a real treat for runners and walkers, regardless of age or athletic condition. It’s all about the fun!

All races, the Lisbon Marathon, the Lisbon Half Marathon and the Mini Marathon include water, sports drinks and fruit along the course and after the finish line. You may be asking why this event is called the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Well, that’s because, along the course of each of the races, you’ll find several Rock ‘n’ Roll bands playing live gigs to motivate you to run faster and have a cooler experience.

If this sounds like a cool event for you and an excellent reason to visit Lisbon and Portugal, please feel free to contact us as we’d be happy to help you out with BIP numbers and logistics, either for this year or the coming ones!