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The Americas' longest relay race could help Brazil's poor

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Fat raindrops turned into a rare Rio storm minutes before a small blond woman trotted onto the Ipanema sands, the first finisher of the longest relay race in the Americas: 600 kilometers (373 miles) between Brazil’s two largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Over three days last month, 260 runners in 20 teams passed cattle and shrubs in a Nike-sponsored race, the second year the event has been held. The race also had a social cause, donating 600 pairs of tennis shoes to a low-income Rio de Janeiro neighborhood to promote physical activity.

The winner pumped her fists in the air as she broke the ribbon at the finish line. “This is Brazil, people! It’s marvelous!” she said breathlessly as her green-clad teammates fell into a cheering pile.

Editor's note: The headline of this story has been changed from its original version to reflect that the race was the longest in North and South America.


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