São Paulo is the world’s fourth largest city. And the economic heart of Brazil. Home to millions, people migrate from all corners to work, live, eat and play here. The traffic is legendary. As is the graffiti art. And it’s said to be the most cosmopolitan city in South America, boasting Brazil’s finest restaurants. From Chinese to Congolese, Japanese to Italian, you can travel the world through dining alone.
And there’s the nightlife. A city that works hard and plays harder, it’s a party-animal’s nirvana, with nightclubs, bars, music venues and eateries buzzing round the clock. But to newcomers, the pace can be overwhelming. For Babi Beluco, a model from a small town in southern Brazil, there was only one fix.
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Babi wakes at 5am every morning to train. ‘I like to kick off my day with an early morning run. Life can be super busy with work meetings and appointments…. running gives me the energy I need to show up and be present.’
But more than just a lifestyle choice, running has become an essential part of Babi’s routine. ‘Running taught me discipline. It dictates the pace of my life, and everything else works around it.’
‘I started running with my father when I was 14, back in my home town. But when I moved to São Paulo, I was homesick constantly. Every time I went for a run, I felt reconnected with my family. That’s when I fell in love with running.’
And what does Babi love about running in São Paulo?
‘São Paulo is a huge mix of cultures and lifestyles, a balance of old and new architecture. It’s a super dynamic place to run, with different things happening around you all the time.’
‘You can experience different elements of São Paulo with every run. You can escape the busy city and find a quiet park within 10 minutes. It’s like you're seeing a new place everyday.’
Such is Babi’s passion for running that she’s a proud member of the On Run Crew in Brazil - a supportive group of like-minded people who love all things running.
‘I love the sense of community. It seems whoever wears On has a common bond, unlike anything else.’
So now that we’re familiar with São Paulo, what are Babi’s favourite running routes?
Situated next to the Pinheiros River, this picturesque park in the west of São Paulo is something of a runner’s dream.
‘I love this route because it offers two types of surface: a flatter landscape with unique architecture, and a more varied trail, with beautiful trees, flowers and birds.’
Sport enthusiasts can get their fill of football, basketball and tennis. And for the adrenaline-inclined, there’s even a skate park.
‘I often round off my run with a stop at the coconut kiosk by the park entrance. But there’s nothing better than a well-deserved coffee in the charming Cafe BVL, before catching up with emails in the park library.’
‘São Paulo’s historic center is a real cultural experience. It’s an action-packed route, with lots of uphills and so much to see. I strongly recommend ditching the headphones, because the traffic is intense and there are people everywhere, walking or skating. This route requires focus, but it’s worth it.’
‘There’s an alley I love called Galeria Nova Barão, where you can find everything from vinyl to wigs. And you must stop by Coffee To Go to sample the classic Brazilian cheese bread. It’s a popular street food out here, best enjoyed fresh from the oven!’
15km: Faria Lima - Ibirapuera
For her final route, Babi recommends Faria Lima. ‘It’s an important commercial and financial center, full of modern, glass buildings. And it has a bike lane that crosses the entire avenue.’
‘The route starts in a region renown for its bars and street art. I often stop by The Coffee - ideal for runners in a hurry, with no time to hang around waiting for a good coffee!’
‘I like to end this route at Ibirapuera Park, my favorite place to run in São Paulo. It’s a beautiful, safe, cozy place. But I’d suggest running here on weekdays as weekends get too crowded.’
And how does Babi wind up her 15km run?
‘There’s a place called Madureira Sucos next to the race track. They serve a lot of healthy snacks and smoothies packed with vitamins and goodies. I recommend the wonderful acai cream - perfect for refuelling after a run.’
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