Black American Participation a Pillar of Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon

NEGRIL, Jamaica – The much-anticipated Reggae Marathon is simply across the nook, set to happen this Sunday, December 3 in Negril, Jamaica. This iconic occasion not solely indicators the start of Jamaica’s winter tourism season, but in addition serves as a celebration of range, with contributors from all over the world eagerly getting ready to participate.

Among the many enthusiastic contributors is a big contingent of Black Individuals like John Lewis, who every year add to the colourful tapestry of the occasion.

Black American Participation a Pillar of Jamaica's Reggae Marathon

Meet Reggae Marathoner, John Lewis

North Carolina-based John Lewis – famend for his roles as a vegan influencer, cookbook creator, and documentary filmmaker – is gearing up for his second Reggae Marathon. His journey to this 12 months’s occasion is as unconventional as his multifaceted profession.

In contrast to most runners who goal to shed kilos, John Lewis, a former Division I basketball participant, is on a mission to bulk up for the Half Marathon race. Standing tall at 6 toes 6 inches and weighing over 230 kilos, he defies stereotypes e of a typical marathoner’s physique. He’s a testomony to the truth that vegans are available all styles and sizes, breaking the misperception that veganism is restricted to a selected picture. He adopted the moniker “BadAss Vegan” to embody this concept and present that vegans can appear like anybody, even him.

Whereas Lewis is diligently coaching for the Reggae Marathon, he’s additionally eagerly anticipating the discharge of his documentary, “They’re Making an attempt to Kill Us,” on Amazon Prime. This thought-provoking documentary, government produced by NBA legend Chris Paul and pop celebrity Billie Eilish, delves into the complicated points surrounding the food-industrial complicated in America. That includes interviews with celebrities, docs, and politicians, the documentary additionally explores Lewis’s private journey whereas highlighting the profound influence of recent diets on well being.

Lewis displays on the alarming well being disparities, significantly amongst Black Individuals, emphasizing the 70% increased likelihood of creating coronary heart illness. He attracts parallels between our our bodies and vehicles, underscoring the significance of correct gasoline for optimum efficiency. With the widespread launch of “They’re Making an attempt to Kill Us” anticipated by year-end, Lewis hopes to spark significant conversations in regards to the want for dietary change.

Reggae Marathon Ambassador

Amidst his busy schedule, Lewis eagerly counts down the times till he returns to Jamaica to compete within the Reggae Marathon as an envoy of the race. His connection to Jamaica is deep-rooted, with two of his finest associates being Jamaican. “I really feel prefer it’s a dishonor to say this, however I’ve by no means had ackee earlier than,” he admitted, referring to a well-liked Jamaican dish.

Decided to rectify this, he has a full itinerary of Jamaican eating places to discover throughout his keep, together with Veggie Meals on Wheels, Juice Queen Cafe, Candy Spice Restaurant, Zimbali’s Mountain Cooking Studio, Bamboo Blu Restaurant, and Ah… Yah So Good Vegan Restaurant. His momentary abode whereas in Negril would be the luxurious Ocean Cliff Resort, famend for its scenic vistas and serene ambiance.

The primary draw, in fact, is the Reggae Half Marathon. Lewis humorously compares it to the difficult Boston or New York marathons held in November, highlighting the stark distinction in each tradition and temperature that awaits runners in Jamaica. “That’s the primary factor, particularly in Jamaica; you possibly can’t go incorrect. Anybody who says they

Jamaica's Reggae Marathon attracts black Americans like John Lewis
John Lewis

“It’s majority Black individuals, and there’s this sense of neighborhood. That’s simply how we’re… We’re gonna relish within the positivity,” Lewis defined. In distinction to different races, he highlights the absence of the same communal feeling elsewhere.

“I’ve run occasions in South Florida, and there’s no flock of individuals going to the seashore and getting within the water,” he shared. “Right here, everybody was simply pleased for one another.” The marathon routes supply breathtaking views of Negril’s shoreline, with the seashore serving because the end line.

“The music is simply nice,” Lewis enthused, recounting the memorable soundscapes of the occasion. “There are these vehicles with mega audio system, and so they’ll play Reggae and Afrobeats. Witnessing the metal drums enjoying and seeing the gang get into it… There’s nothing prefer it.”

Undoubtedly, John Lewis plans to make the Reggae Marathon a recurring a part of his life for years to return. He’s a testomony to the varied group of contributors drawn to the occasion, showcasing the unity and inclusivity that the Reggae Marathon embodies.

Transcends Borders

The Reggae Marathon is an occasion that transcends borders and brings collectively individuals from varied walks of life. In 2023, it’s poised to be significantly notable, with the USA set to carry the biggest contingent of runners, with a big proportion being Black Individuals. Jamaica will comply with intently behind, because the second-largest participant group this 12 months. In whole, runners from 25 international locations have already registered to be a part of this world-renowned race.

These international locations embrace Austria, Bahamas, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Panama, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK, amongst others. The Reggae Marathon has really develop into a worldwide celebration of working and tradition, attracting contributors from various backgrounds.

Reggae Marathon Boosts Tourism

The influence of the Reggae Marathon on Negril, the host metropolis, has been transformative. In 2022, Negril skilled a record-breaking tourism season, with revenues reaching almost US$1 billion, contributing considerably to Jamaica’s whole tourism income of $3.7 billion. The winter season from January 2023 to March 2023 witnessed an astonishing surge, with over 1.18 million guests selecting Jamaica as their vacation spot—a staggering 94.4 p.c enhance in comparison with the identical interval in 2022.

Over its 22+ 12 months historical past, the Reggae Marathon has constantly performed a pivotal function in boosting tourism in Jamaica. Previous to the pandemic, contributors’ common expenditure steadily elevated 12 months after 12 months, benefitting each worldwide and Jamaican attendees.

Whereas 2022 noticed a dip in spending because of the distinctive circumstances, specialists anticipate a rebound and a return to the earlier development trajectory because the occasion continues to achieve momentum with consecutive in-person editions.

A number of Races

In 2023, the Reggae Marathon’s focus will heart on the in-person half marathon and 10K races. Enhancing logistical coordination to make sure an distinctive expertise for all contributors. With a renewed emphasis on music and seamless occasion execution, sources can be concentrated to ship the very best in-person marathon expertise within the occasion’s two-decade historical past. For digital opponents, the choice to take part within the full-length marathon stays out there.

The Reggae Marathon is just not solely a celebration of working but in addition an important element of Negril’s collective effort to steer the resurgence of tourism following the journey restrictions imposed through the pandemic. Tourism is Jamaica’s main trade, accountable for almost a 3rd of employment and financial output. The adversarial results of the pandemic had been deeply felt, with a 9.9 p.c GDP decline in December 2020, marking the sharpest financial downturn within the nation’s historical past, in stark distinction to the 0.9 p.c development in 2019. The depreciation of the Jamaican greenback was additionally a big concern throughout this era.

Optimistic Outlook For 2024

Wanting forward, the projections for 2024 are exceedingly optimistic. Consultants forecast a 25 p.c enhance in income for the tourism trade. Plus, GDP anticipated to rise between 3 and 5 p.c.

The revamped Reggae Marathon is well-poised to proceed main the cost in Jamaica’s tourism resurgence. Solidifying its function as a vanguard for the nation’s tourism success. With a various and inclusive participant base, this iconic occasion displays the unity and concord that make the Reggae Marathon a singular celebration of tradition, athleticism, and neighborhood.