" - Is that the Crystal Palace you've mentioned? "
" - Well.. not really... :) "
You can't miss this building when you look at Porto's skyline. That is why it frequently becomes a conversation topic in the running tours I guide. A second reason is because I often bring up the fact that this venue is intimately connected to running, though not in an obvious way... !
While some local people still call that UFO shaped green dome in the background "o Palácio de Cristal", that is not its name. The historic Crystal Palace was indeed built in this location in the 1860's, inspired on the original exhibition building that stood in the south of London. The Portuguese 'replica' does no longer exist for it got dismantled in 1951.
The currently existing building's real name is Rosa Mota pavilion, a sport venue. To explain you who Rosa Mota is and how is running involved we need to go back to the 80's.
Care to join me?
Who's ROSA MOTA?
I was only 3 years old when Rosa won her first international marathon. During my childhood years, I got used to watch her racing - and wining - over the television. She was 3 times (!!!) Boston marathon winner, won twice in Chicago and also finished first in the 1991's London Marathon, one year before she retired from competition.
Post-marathon interview outside the Hotel in Boston.
Mota ran 21 marathon races between 1982 and 1992. She averaged two marathons a year for a decade and won 14 of those races. One of them was the Olympic Marathon in Seul, South Korea, in 1988.
Rosa running to the finish line in Boston and Seoul.
She became an elite athlete in Porto, where she was born, running for FC Foz, FC Porto and finally CAP, a club which she is still working with in organizing the Portucale 15k race (every July).
Left to right: Rosa Mota, Ana Paula Mota and Aurora Cunha, starting their careers on the track & field team at FCPorto
Rosa is not yet in her 60's. Five feet, two inches of immense greatness and generosity. She took on the role of constantly promoting sports and physical activity and accepts most invitations to be in all sort of charity events.
In Porto she is affectionately known as "a nossa Rosinha" - our little Rose!
Every other day you can still find her training in city park, usually in the company of her husband and former trainer, José Pedrosa.
Pedrosa, on a street payphone in Boston gathering information about Rosa's split times so that he could inform her further on, during the race (1987). Smartphones were far from being invented...!
In the 80's she would train twice a day, starting from her apartment in the Foz district (that she and her husband bought with prize-moneys), enjoying the seafront and riverside wonderful sceneries that Porto has to offer.
In 2016, Rosa had her first theatrical experience, playing herself in theather piece called "o nome da Rosa" where she got to relive some of her career's most important moments and share some of those strong emotions with the audience.
A moment of "o nome da Rosa" where Rosa Mota was playing the main role as 'herself' (Porto, 2016).
As you surely know, the name Marathon comes from the legend of Philippides, the Greek messenger. The Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (in which he had just fought) in 490 BC. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming νενικήκαμεν "we have won!", before collapsing and dying.
Rosa would have ran the distance in 2h23 (her PR and national best) and finishing it with the widest of smiles!
Interesting fact: she never ran Porto's marathon. Do you dare guessing why?
Sérgio is the founder of PRT, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide since 2015.
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