Highlights: Lisbon Half Marathon, Spring 2019
Hey guys! It’s Katie, your tour host and running partner at Live, Run, Travel. We just got back from the Lisbon Half Marathon, and I’m here to give you a behind the scenes recap from our trip.
Ready? Let’s get to it!
Preparing for Lisbon
From the start, Live, Run, Travel has always been about adding a little wanderlust to your next marathon.
As your tour host, my goal is to take care of everything so that you can focus on training, having fun, and making friends.
I spent a month in Lisbon last fall trying out different local tour operators and making sure that our runners could enjoy a hyper-local experience during their visit.
Speaking of our rockstar runners, the Lisbon Half Marathon trip was a truly international experience. We had a dozen runners from seven different countries. Of course, we all had two things in common: a love for running and for travel!
Before the Race
Because Live, Run, Travel focuses on relaxed, small group travel (never more than 12-15 people), we’re able to customize the travel experience for each person.
For this trip, we planned personal excursions for members of our group who wanted to visit specific art museums, go paragliding, and even see a dance performance!
On top of that, we took a group tour through the Portuguese countryside to better understand (and fall in love with) this land of waves, food, and fairytales.
Portugal: A Foodie Paradise
You can’t talk about Portugal without talking about the local cuisine. Foodie or not, it won’t be long before you’re exposed to the local delicacies when you’re in Lisbon.
The general consensus in our group was that we run so that we can indulge. (Let’s call it carb loading before the race!)
We hit the streets of Lisbon for a food tour to sample the local cuisine. I polled the group to see which of our favorite foods are a must try the next time you’re in Lisbon:
- Pastel de nata (Portuguese egg tart)
- Ginjinha (cherry liquor)
- Bifanas (sandwiches with thin pork cutlets)
- Octopus salad
- Arroz de marisco (seafood rice)
O food tour didn’t just stop at local restaurants. Lisbon is known for its local architecture — from the Sao Jorge Castle, iconic red-roofed buildings, and pastel-colored walls. Between stops on the food tour, we walked through some of Lisbon’s main attractions: Bairro Alto, Praca de Comercio, and Rossio Square.
One of the best parts of traveling with other runners is getting together with a group of people who love to be active. A large portion of our pre-race tourism took place outside the city.
One of our favorite highlights was a bike tour through the Costa da Caparica fishing villages, just a short ferry ride across from central Lisbon. We got a good workout in by biking up the cliffs for a breathtaking view of the coastline before touring the fishing communities nearby.
While our tour guide was showing us her own neighborhood, an older gentleman who stopped to talk to us. As our guide translated, he told us about his life as a fisherman living on the coast before inviting us inside to try his homemade Ginjinha.
We thought the Ginjinha we’d had on the tour was great, but his homemade version was simply divine.
Our bike tour ended with a perfectly-timed sunset while on the ferry ride back to Lisbon, perfect end to the day.
One of the main attractions in Portugal is the Nature Park of Arrábida. Just a 45-minute drive from Lisbon, the park is a trove of local wildlife and amazing vistas.
On the way to the park, we stopped in Setúbal to tour the fisherman’s market and tried the “traditional fisherman’s breakfast” — a pork sandwich and rose wine. Of course, we couldn’t miss out on an extra round of Ginjinha before we hit the road.
At the park, we drove along the coastline and spent several hours at Creiro Beach for snorkeling and kayaking before we walked down to the Cave of St. Margaret. You’ll have to face down a few stairs, but when you reach the top, you can jump into the water from the rocks.
Definitely worth the effort!
Another popular option in Arrábida is paragliding. Even if you’re not brave enough to take the leap (I wasn’t!), the view from the launch point is spectacular.
The Alfama, Fado, and Everything In Between
Here’s something that you probably won’t hear from a traditional tour host. When you’re visiting Lisbon, plan to do a little bit of nothing for at least one night.
One of our best nights out in Lisbon was spent wandering the streets of the Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in the city. The entire district is full of rich history. Over the course of Lisbon’s history, the Alfama has seen it all.
You’ll find yourself right at home among the cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and ancient architecture. We ate dinner at a small restaurant and enjoyed Portuguese Fado music during our time wandering the district.
The Lisbon Half Marathon: Race Day
Of course, you don’t tour with Live, Run, Travel just for the sights. You come to race.
And race we did.
We started race day with a team breakfast, where we talked strategy. After a couple of pep talks, we headed for the starting line.
Lisbon is one of my favorite places to race in the entire world, spring or fall. The spring half marathon started across the 25 de Abril Bridge, a suspension bridge that looks just like the Golden Gate bridge.
Our group finished with a mix of times, all within an hour of one another. We had a blast cheering for everyone together at the finish line.
Later that night, we talked about our favorite moments from the race. Of course, the views while crossing the bridge were at the top of that list!
While that’s a wrap for our tour of the Lisbon Half Marathon, we’re only just getting started. Live, Run, Travel will be returning to Lisbon in the fall for the Lisbon Full Marathon. (You can also choose the fall half marathon!)
I can tell you from personal experience that Lisbon in the fall is completely different from Lisbon in the spring. It’s just as magical in an entirely different way.
The fall race begins with a run across the 7.1-mile Vasco da Gama Bridge. It’s one of the longest bridges in Europe, and the cool air rising up from the river below is a great way to kick off a race.
If you’re looking to add a little wanderlust to your next marathon, join us for our next trip to this European paradise!