How Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon Has Received the Coronary heart of Runners Throughout the Globe

OCHO RIOS, Jamaica – The Reggae Marathon, for a lot of, is essentially the most transfixing occasion on the semi-professional operating calendar. City marathons, such because the New York Marathon and the London Marathon, pressure runners via blocks and boroughs of densely packed buildings and labyrinthian streets. “The magic moments of Jamaica, of operating in Negril, contain having the Seven Mile seashore seen all through the occasion and ending the race by operating into the Caribbean Sea,” beamed Reggae Marathon sponsorship and advertising and marketing director, Diane Ellis.

How Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon Has Won the Heart of Runners Across the Globe
Photograph by Karen Fuchs

Distinctive Appeal of the Reggae Marathon

Held within the first blush of winter within the Northern Hemisphere, the marathon is a runner’s escape from the seasonal chill that plagues northern nations. The Marathon group selected the early December begin date to fill a niche within the busy Negril winter vacationer season, making the Reggae Marathon the unofficial beginning pistol for the winter season. Individuals come for the race and keep to help native industries. They go to concert events, keep at inns of all sizes, and partake in Negril and Ocho Rios’ vibrant nightlife.

Attract of The Seaside

How Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon Has Won the Heart of Runners Across the Globe

“I by no means anticipated the end to finish on the seashore,” gushed filmmaker and Reggae Marathon ambassador, John Lewis. “I’ve lived in Miami for 20 years and have completed races there, however we by no means ended up on the seashore.” The neighborhood vibe is a major a part of why Lewis might be going again for his second time this yr. “On the finish of the race, everyone congratulated one another, loved one another’s firm, and truly frolicked for some time.”

Making Lifelong Buddies

Larry Savitch, a New Yorker and Reggae Marathon veteran, agreed with Lewis. “What has introduced me again is that no different race I’ve ever participated in has given me so many associates, not simply acquaintances, however actual associates that I chat with a number of occasions a yr and have seen outdoors of Negril.”

A Rising Worldwide Enchantment

Attendance on the Reggae Marathon has steadily grown through the years. In 2022, virtually 2000 individuals from 35 totally different nations entered the occasion. Many got here from the US, the UK, and Canada, all nations with giant Jamaican diasporas. However, individuals additionally traveled from different Caribbean nations reminiscent of Trinidad & Tobago, jap European nations like Poland, African nations reminiscent of Angola, and Asian nations like Japan, amongst many others.

The expansion is the results of decided, boots-on-the-ground work put in by the group behind Reggae Marathon. Within the occasion’s early years, a journey group would arrange cubicles on the expos featured at bigger, extra established marathons, such because the New York Marathon and the Miami Marathon. Ellis theorizes that the novelty of a middle-to-long-distance occasion, on this planet’s capital of dash racing, was sufficient to show heads. On prime of that, December isn’t an excellent season for marathon operating in northern nations. Slippery surfaces that invite harmful spills, bundles of garments wanted to remain heat however uncomfortable to maneuver in for prolonged intervals, and air so chilly that it seems like shards of glass in your lungs with every inhale – none are conducive to comfy operating.

Group, Music, and Charity

The primary leg of the Reggae Marathon journey is thru a torch-lit path that opens up into the primary stretch, providing a view of the long-lasting Seven Mile seashore. Runners are enveloped by the clear morning air, and local weather change allowing, a Christmas breeze (northerly winds visiting the island). The ‘Reggae’ in Reggae Marathon is greater than a reputation. Music is a basic facet of the expertise.

How Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon Has Won the Heart of Runners Across the GlobeThe famend Silver Birds Metal Band Orchestra performs at totally different legs, working via a discography of traditional Jamaican songs and iconic pop covers. Cell music DJs outfit their vehicles as mini sound techniques and drive previous booming music, all the things from Reggae classics to Afrobeats chart-toppers, rallying the runners. The occasion finishes in entrance of the shoreline, and runners are inspired to jog proper into the ocean for the right cooldown.

“The tip of your race is only the start of one other occasion with Reggae, refreshments (Purple Stripe beer and recent coconut water straight from the coconut), and, most significantly, the Caribbean Sea, which is life-giving and therapeutic simply to soak in. Trip begins up once more!” beamed Savitch.

All of it combines to make the Reggae Marathon a wonderful beginning competitors for these interested by long-distance operating. “There’s no higher place to run a half marathon,” Lewis proclaimed. “You will be aggressive in order for you, however you may also simply get pleasure from your time there.”

Savitch once more agreed. “If you wish to have enjoyable and benefit from the sunshine and music, that is the right race for rookies and seasoned runners,” he stated.

Charitable Donations

Many teams compete within the occasion collectively, such because the Reggae Runnerz, a gaggle of individuals from the diaspora. Reggae Runnerz consists of wherever between 200 and 450 members every year. This group has made sizable donations to the Inexperienced Island neighborhood, a small coastal city close to Negril. Donations assist to help the native highschool and even funding excursions to the Penn Relays. One other group is a collective of medical practitioners who volunteer at Negril’s clinics after taking part.

The charitable power permeates all through the occasion and trickles down from the organizers. One of many companions is the Coronary heart Basis of Jamaica which presents reasonably priced medical care. Care together with scans and testing for coronary heart illness, and individuals are inspired to donate funds when doable.

The marathon additionally companions with the SOS Kids’s Village in Kingston to deliver on volunteers to the occasion. The kids are transported to Negril and uncovered to the marathon’s best-in-class group.

This yr’s Marathon is on December 3, 2023, and guarantees the identical one-of-a-kind mixture of vibes, music, charity, and enjoyable.