The annual Reggae Marathon just held their 18th stagings along the coast of Negril’s world famous 7Mile beach. Voted as one of the world’s best marathons, this year boasted 2600+ participants from 30+ countries, roughly half of which were of the local population.

I checked in at my usual all-inclusive resort pick in Negril to get ready for the event series. Leading up to the anticipated main event was registrations, packet collections, and a pasta party. The registration and package collection centres provided participants with branded drawstring bags filled with goodies including:

  • Race bib with timekeeping microchip
  • Safety pins
  • Information sheets
  • Negril book guides

  • Reggae Marathon t-shirt
  • Bottles of water and energy drink
  • Snacks: An energy bar and pack of biscuits
  • Coffee packets

JHTA’s “World’s Best” Pasta Party

The night before the big day, a pasta party was held at Couples Swept Away resort boasting over a dozen pastas from various hotel chefs. This evenue was inclusive in Reggae Marathon participants’ package but was also open to non-racers at a fee ($20 USD). The lines for the multiple tents were all lengthy but thankfully didn’t seem to be at a standstill. While grabbing plates to house the starch, the Silver Birds steel band played a series of popular songs with the cheerful melody of steel pans. For me, 3 plates was enough for sampling a little bit of everything which included potatoes, macaroni, linguini, lasagna, marina and alfredo dishes.  How many plates do you think you’d have?

Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K

In the wee hours of December 2nd, racers clad in sportswear, flags, and even a few tutus could be seen sprinkled along the resort-populated streets awaiting shuttles to Long Bay Beach’s starting line. The road was closed from 4am to 12noon to vehiclar traffic and moderated by police and race associates. Prepping for the 5:15AM start whistle, patrons chatted, took photos, warmed up, and visited sponsor tents while the tunes of reggae music radiating into the streets. A gentleman sporting a red Reggae Marathon shirt waved a large Jamaican flag from beginning to end as he shouted encouraging words to patrons. The crowded start line was filled with racers of all ages, sizes, and nationalities until the blare of the horn sent them off to the Negril rounadbout roughly 5km away.

The Silver Birds steel band was on display again as the first music marker along the route. They created a positive vibe to open the race and inspire dancing for those who had the time to stop. Cars were parked on the road along the route with doors, bonnets, and trunks open blearing reggae music throughout the course.

What I found most warming was that despite participants hailing from so many different nations, many not speaking the native language, everyone seemed to be a friend on race day. Racers cheered other racers and provided motivation as they passed each other, as too did spectators who stepped outside their homes and resorts before the sun rose, seemingly just to clap and give thumbs up to passers by. This race embodied at least 3 ways in which traveling can improve you.

award ceremony and beach bash

After crossing the finish line into Long Bay Beach Park, patrons flocked to sponsor tents to enjoy a light meal, beverages, and even a replenishing massage. With direct access to the beach, of course many participants also chose to take a refreshing dip after completing the course.

Live singing by a local artiste as well as stereo music provided a mellow vibe ahead of the awards ceremony. Everyone received a finishers medal (which I’m so proud of for my 1st official 10K!), but top finishers from each race also collected additional prizes in the form of awards and monies. Congratulations to everyone, especially the big winners:

Men’s 10K Race

  1. Garfield Gordon 31:42
  2. Dwayne Graham 33:20
  3. Tyrese Reid 33:43

Women’s 10K Race

  1. Samantha Pryce 41:03
  2. Aniesha Lawrence 41:50
  3. Zoeyann Wint 41:52

Men’s Half Marathon

  1. Oshane Archibald 1:13:21
  2. Kemar Leslie, 1:18:03
  3. Ryon Chambers, 1:22:17

Women’s Half Marathon

  1. Charlie Pipe 1:37:13
  2. Paulina Tautz 1:38:57
  3. Arieya Martin 1:42:50

Men’s Marathon

  1. Daichi Okano 2:47.17
  2. Gregory McKenzie 2:49:39
  3. Troy Pennington 2:58:40

Women’s Marathon

  1. Ann Viljugrein 3:29:09
  2. Celine Vandenbroucke 3:38:54
  3. Victoria Old, 3:49:57

If you’re looking forward to next year’s staging, a change in the usual date shifts it to the second weekend of the month: December 8, 2019.

Besides a testing hike to a well-worthy waterfall, this was probably the only 10K I’ve done. Between snapping photos and dancing to the music, my first official 10K stroll took 2:19:56! How do you think you would do?

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