In a bid to calm safety fears, improve the poverty stricken slums and open up tourism ahead of hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, Rio staged a peace marathon over the weekend.
Thousands sprinted, jogged and walked through the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum called Rocinha.
The city’s police have been engaged in a long battle with drug trafficking and violence in the community and the weekend’s race went some way to showing the progress they and the residents have made.
One local resident said: ‘‘Rocinha is a beautiful place and this unity, with people coming from different places to see Rocinha – a place filled with tourists, that everybody likes, Latin America’s largest slum — it is really beautiful. We want unity, peace and to live with tranquillity.”
Although there were signs that safety remains a priority with police lining parts of the race route, the day’s action went ahead incident-free.
Inhabitants of the once-highly dangerous slum clearly welcomed the excitement, attention and a marathon that turned out to be much more than just a race.
Much more than a race