Let’s take a lap around Reggae Marathon.
A lap around Reggae Marathon means you’ve run 13.1 km’s, the Half Marathon. For the 10 K you make the turn to the finish just past the 6 mile mark; For the Full Marathon, you run the closed road course twice. One big thing to keep in mind: Reggae Marathon is marked in Miles: There is a mile marker at each mile along with aid stations and music. Pretty easy to keep track as you run the entire paved road course. Follow along for a lap around Reggae Marathon, turns and all:
- We line up behind the Start line across the full width of the Norman Washington Boulevard to start Reggae Marathon. It’s before 5 am in the morning as we mingle nervously waiting for the 5:15 am start from Race Director Frano. We’re facing south west and will follow the road all the way into the town of Negril, about 2 and 3 quarter miles.
- We all start together, Full Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. Elite runners at all distances start toward the front. If you are a mid-pack runner or a walker, you can show your understanding of proper race etiquette by starting further back in the pack. Trust me, faster runners will appreciate this. Conversely, if you move forward ahead of faster runners, you are sure to incur their displeasure.
- We start in the pre-dawn darkness and head southwest along the full width of the road. Let me repeat: We start in the dark. There are street lights to guide your way but be aware of who is in front and beside you. And take extra care passing other runners, especially close to the edges of the road. You don’t need a light…just be cautious.
- Around the 1 mile mark, Marshals will move us over to the right side of the road where we’ll run for the rest of the course. Reggae Marathon is a looped course and this is to allow space for the returning runners. At around the 2 mile mark look our for the Jamaican High School 10K runners…these fast guys will have made their turn and will be heading back to the finish…their effortless strides are riviting!
- As we continue along toward the round-about turn, we run past the hotels that hug the beach strip. Many of them have cheerleaders out at that early hour of the morning…it’s a great experience! We pass two aid stations before the turn, Mile 1 and Mile 2. Water and Electrolyte replacement available from volunteers in convenient plastic pouches.
- As we approach the turn in the town of Negril, we hit the only two real inclines along the entire Reggae Marathon course: The bridge over the Negril river. Not much of an incline but heads up on the approach the round-about for the timing mats: Marshals direct us. Important to do so to track our time.
- We then double back up over the river and hit the Mile 3 aid station. Music and hydration. From there it’s north east running back toward the start and you’ll pass Mile 4 and 5 markers and aid stations. By now the light has begun to brighten as the sun comes on our right side. It doesn’t break the tree line until a bit later but it does start to warm up…keep hydrated.
- As we pass Mile 5 we’ll have music to keep us moving. Usually there is a steel band along the side of the road and just past that (near the Couples Swept Away Resort) we hear music from the Finish Area. Here’s where we have to pay attention. If running the 10K, we make the turn back to the Finish just past the 6 mile marker. There is a timing mat there and volunteers and Marshals will give you lots of loud direction. Once making the turn it’s about 200 metres to go to the 10K finish! Smile! If you’re running the Half Marathon or Full Marathon, you’ll be directed to keep running for another 3 miles.
- Half Marathoners and Full Marathoners continue on to the turn just before the Salt Creek Bridge, passing a number of other hotels and resorts as well as Cool Runnings Water Park and the Negril Aerodrome, both on your right.
- Just past Mile 8 are the RIU Resorts…breathe…the turn is coming up, just past Mile 9. At the turn the course doubles back toward Long Bay Beach Park… 4 miles to go the Finish.
- Look out for Bob’s Mile at Mile 25. Motivation from the Man himself to make it to the Finish.
- Approaching the Finish area, Half Marathoners will be directed to the right into the Finish Chute while Marathoners will be directed to the left to continue on for their second lap. Again, Volunteers and Marshals on hand directing traffic.
From darkness into light; cool morning breeze to warm sunshine. That’s one lap around Reggae Marathon. See you Sunday, December 2, 2018!
Until next time…
Reggae Marathon RunninGuy (aka Sugar ‘Tuff Gong’ Bong)