At least 600 runners and walkers are set to travel to Jamaica to run along the established Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K Negril route, even as the event is a virtual race this year. They will run in Negril between November 13 and December 4, followed by a vacation on the island.
Last year participants from 30 countries participated virtually. However, for the second year of virtual running, long standing patrons from other parts of Jamaica and the rest of the world, are insisting on travelling to Jamaica amid the pandemic to recapture the Reggae Marathon experience.
According to Alfred ‘Frano’ Francis, race director, runners and walkers in such countries as Australia and Japan plan to create a Jamaican setting and the Reggae Marathon experience they have come to enjoy over the past 20 years during the staging of the in-person Reggae Marathon races.
He said, in the city of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, members of the Aussie Team Toowoomba – also known as the Rasta Rockets – are busy preparing for their run in the 2021 Virtual Reggae Half Marathon, set to start at 5 a.m. on December 4 from the Queens Park.
The Reggae Half Marathon runners aim to return to finish the last 5 km with the Park Runners.
This initiative to recreate the Reggae Marathon experience in Australia is being led by Celia Innerarity, a member of the Jamdammers Running Club of Kingston and committed Reggae Marathon volunteer who is now located in Toowoomba. Her running partner Ted Carter is one of the race directors for the Queens Park Run held regularly in Toowoomba.
Mr. Francis explained that the Jamaicans in Australia were working together to ensure that all participants experience an authentic Jamaican feel, complete with a Jamaican DJ playing reggae music, as well as display of Jamaican foods, such as puddings and patties for sale. He said the organisation Party Hut will also have Jamaican and reggae paraphernalia, including Rasta wigs and tutus, available for sale.
In the Prefecture of Tottori, Japan, there is a team gearing up to have fun, Jamaican style, during the run period of the 2021 Virtual Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. About 30 runners will be participating and there are plans to create a Reggae experience for the participants in that Prefecture.
This is part of an ongoing partnership between Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K and the Prefecture of Tottori, which arose from the twinning of the Prefecture and the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, under the leadership of Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Councillor Bertel Moore in 2016.
Since then, there has been an annual exchange of runners at both the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K and the Tottori Marathon. Both male and female runners from the Prefecture of Tottori have placed among the top three Reggae Marathon finishers since then.
“The fact that runners and walkers of all nationalities have decided to recreate the Reggae Marathon experience in their own cities this year, speaks to the authenticity of the brand. It also confirms their appreciation of the excellent care we have provided them over the past 20 years which they wish to relive even during the virtual run. We are grateful for their support and loyalty and could not think of a better way to celebrate 21 years of Reggae Marathon during this pandemic year,” said Mr. Francis.