We already have The One.

We already delivered Portugal Countryside’s number one for 2020 and forever. The one, the two, the three and the remaining numbers now have names. They get the personality of those who carry it. They will no longer be a set of digits, but a number with identity, body and soul.

This was a measure taken in 2011 in the first 100 km of Trail Running in mainland Portugal. In that year we decided that the one would have the face of Gloria Serrazina and so it is until today. It was not a communication strategy. It was a decision for us to be able to understand who was a pioneer, or to know if they have been to the event more than once. It is another way to create other connections to our events. Today, interestingly, we have participants asking us the race numbers for the event. – “Paulo, reserve me 13 for Portugal Countryside”. Others even in events not organized by us ask for the number that marks it in our events. This is the case of 61. Sixty-one in some races is Luíz Mota. We do not know if he will come to Portugal Countryside, but for many good reasons is reserved for him.

The one of Portugal Countryside

This was not a difficult decision. Although there are a few more people with number 1 profile, our decision was relatively quick. There were a number of people who had a profile that fit, a number one profile, but we opted for Vitor Rodrigues not only for his persistence and resilience, much less for the results achieved. The fact of being a “habitué” in other events organized by us influenced, but was not preponderant.

So what decided it?

In 2016, in Portugal 281 Ultramarathon, Vitor was in first for some time. In Idanha-a-Nova is the first to arrive and thereafter, remained at the top 6 of the race. Many kilometers ran in the company of Aníbal Lavandeira, a Uruguayan who had won the Extremo Sul Ultramarathon last year.

In Vale D´Urso, just over 4 km from finish line, after 277 km of continuous effort, between conversations I hear that Vitor was very bad and had been sleeping in the village. The alarms went off, because even though it is midsummer, the nights are cold, in Vale D´Urso, because of small river, they are freezing. The cold is very dangerous, I know that, I felt it on my skin. So at the sound of these alarms, knowing the state of fatigue he was in, I rushed to meet him at dawn. Falling asleep in that state could be the end. He could not be wrapped there in a thermal blanket waiting for the new day or other energies. I found him by a gate, sitting, aching, hurt, but serene, balanced, reasoned with logic and not knowing what to do. It was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable moments in my life as an organizer.

At the time the question is: do I give up or continue?
Who answers this when 4 km is left and after 277? Who is able to decide under these conditions?
What we said now doesn’t matter, but the decision was:
-“… I will not continue Paulo”.

Even today I am emotional with this moment. It was cruel to both of us. But it was also a smart decision that elevates you to a higher stage of emotional intelligence.

It was the story that decided the number one of the Portugal Countryside. It was the first registration. The phrase “If you want to talk to God, this is the race” it’s his.Meanwhile, he returned twice to PT.281 + always finishing in second place. He went to Brazil and took the BR135 podium and is a finalist for Badwater.

Vítor Rodrigues is The One of Portugal Countryside.


Written by: Paulo Garcia, Diretor de Prova
Superior and preview photography: Rubén Fueyo