Your first Reggae Marathon Experience is special. So much to look forward to: The planning, the training, the anticipation of traveling to Negril! So much is available online to give you a sense of what it’s going to be like yet the warm breezes, bright sunshine and tropical air can only be experienced in person.
Your Reggae Marathon Experience begins when you arrive in Jamaica. Most island visitors arrive at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. It’s a vibrant airport that’s the gateway to the north coast resorts and the closest to Negril, located on the very western tip of Jamaica.
After making it through Customs and Immigration with your luggage, stop and grab a Red Stripe before boarding your bus for the 70K trip to Negril.
The bus ride through the heart of Montego Bay then along the coast road can be ‘thrilling’. The roads are narrow and Jamaicans drive on the left. Keep your camera handy. Along the way you’ll pass through the town of Lucea which is always bustling. Once through and back along the open road, keep your eye out for Green Island. That’s a sure sign that your’re not far from Negril.
In Negril there are 2 unique resort experiences: Beach and Cliff. Most of the beach hotels and resorts stretch along a 7 mile strip of the main road, the Norman Manley Highway. Everything from all inclusive resorts to small, boutique and family run properties. They all share the same thing: The white, almost sugary, sand beach that defines Negril. The cliff experience is another world: Located past the town centre of Negril, these smaller, more intimate properties have a more laid back vibe.
Plan to get to Negril a couple of days before race day, Sunday, December 2. You’ll want to get in a couple of morning runs to check out the road course and the warmer temperatures. Nothing hard mind you…better to walk/run easy.
Race Packet pickup is located at the Couples Swept Away Sporting Complex and is open Friday and Saturday. You must pick up your packet Friday or Saturday…because of the 5:15 am start on Sunday, there is no packet pick up on race day. Saturday night December 1 is the Reggae Marathon Pasta Party, also at Couples…you won’t want to miss this! As a racer, your registration fee includes entry to the Pasta Party!
Reggae Marathon runs along this main highway that is closed to regular vehicle traffic on race day. Basically from the Riu Resort on the east to the Negril Roundabout on the west, around 6 miles. The free shuttles that run from each end of the road course from early morning race day till road re-opens after the races are the way to get to and from the start/finish area at Long Bay Beach Park.
All three Reggae Marathon race events start/finish at Long Bay Beach Park. There’s a mass start exactly at 5:15 am. Right near the Start/Finish area, there’s a bag check. Use the bag you get with your race packet to pack a change of clothes, towel and sunscreen. At the finish, you’ll get your Finisher Medal then move on through to the post-race area. Water, Electrolytes, coconuts, Red Stripe and of course…the Beach! If there’s one thing that defines the Reggae Marathon Experience it’s running out into the Caribbean, running gear and all. One year I forgot to take my running shoes off…goodbye running shoes!
That does it for me. Every year. Nothing feels better than the bobbing in the water after finishing. You know where you’ll find me Sunday morning, December 2.
Until next time…
Reggae Marathon RunninGuy (aka Sugar ‘Tuff Gong’ Bong)