It all starts with the decision to register for the 2011 Reggae Marathon, December 3, 2011. After that you can be assured that the 5 days from Wednesday to Monday on the beach in Negril, the Capital of Casual will be among the best vacation and running days you will enjoy.
After your flight arrives in Montego Bay late Wednesday afternoon, you’ll have a straightforward road trip through downtown Mo Bay to Negril. You’ll travel along the coast highway through towns such as Sandy Bay, Lucea and Green Island. Green Island is significant: it means you are getting closer to Negril and it is also the turnaround point of the full Reggae Marathon. If you are staying at Couples Swept Away, look out for Long Bay Beach Park on your right hand side…beach side. This is the start of all the running events: the 10 K, ½ Marathon and full Marathon. And don’t get lulled into the ‘soon come’, laid back vibe in Jamaica…all three events start promptly on Saturday morning at 5:15 am. There is no rest for the wicked after the fabulous Pasta Party on Friday night at the Couples Swept Away Sporting Complex directly across from the hotel.
Get up early Thursday morning. Getting out onto the miles of white sand beach that define Negril brings your stress level down in a hurry. Enjoy a cup of Blue Mountain coffee before heading out for a gentle run to help get acclimatized. Some run along the sandy beach but my friend Bob Moore from Washington, DC and I head out on the Negril road toward the round-a-bout. This replicates the first 6 miles of the course that loops into the town of Negril before heading north toward the turnaround in Green Island. We do this again Friday morning.
For the balance of Thursday and Friday you have many options. Tours of course are available to various attractions including rum factories and waterfalls. Golf, shopping and the usual water sports are all available. My favourite: lounging on the beach and talking running with all the runners who seem to fill all the hotels in the couple of days leading up to race day on Saturday.
On either Thursday or Friday afternoon pick up your race packet at the Couples Swept Away Sporting Complex. I assume you have pre-registered on-line…it is the simplest way to guarantee all goes smoothly.
And if you haven’t heard by now, here it is again: “Don’t miss the World’s Best Pasta Party” on Friday night beginning at 5:30 pm at the Couples Swept Away Sporting Complex. There’s live music and more choices of food than you can imagine. It’s hard not to overdo it so be forewarned.
Race day Saturday morning comes quickly. With the 5:15 am torchlight and reggae music start, you’ll want to get to the start/finish area early. Believe me, the vibe and energy at that early hour is indescribable. Plan to get there by 4:30 am latest…shuttles run between all the hotels and resorts along the Negril beach and you’ll have no trouble jumping on-board one.
Here is some basic information about the course:
- START and FINISH at Long Bay Beach Park on Norman Manley Boulevard
- Start Time: 5:15 am; course remains open for 7 hours
- Water/Aid Stations every mile – 25 in all, manned by experienced marathoners and enthusiastic volunteers…both water and Gatorade are handed out in chilled plastic pouches
- Cooling stations with misters and iced towel wraps
- Inspirational Reggae Music at every mile
- Closed lanes for runners
- A certified IAAF & AIMS marathon course meeting international standards.
- The event is sanctioned by the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA).
- Medical stations positioned along the course and staffed by a premier multi-disciplinary medical team with a helicopter on call for airlift to hospital.
“You’re in good hands” every step of the way at the Reggae Marathon. And the good times continue at the conclusion. Once through the finish area where you’ll get your finisher’s medal head straight for the cooling/misting tent for the best recovery you can imagine. Then grab a fresh cut coconut before moving on to a cold Red Stripe. And to top it off, make sure you dash out into the Caribbean just outside the finishing area.
It’s not over yet though. The Victory Party and Awards Ceremony both take place on the beach until 1 pm on Saturday.
Sunday and Monday, day 4 and 5 are best left for relaxing on the Negril beach. Nothing beats the sunsets…I’ve taken tons of photos and never get tired of looking at them. This is one I took from Rick’s Cafe last December. It’s the background image on my laptop.
This year marks the 11th running of the Reggae Marathon. It’s my third and I’m looking forward to it. Will you be in paradise this December?
Until next time…
Reggae Marathon RunninGuy
(Note: Pasta Party photos courtesy of Errol Anderson)