Details of the event, which has earned the reputation for being a well-organised international event, were revealed at a launch at Eden Gardens yesterday.
Race director, Alfred ‘Frano’ Francis, is anticipating a greater turnout for this year’s staging with the rising number of international participants.
“The event last year brought out an outpouring of support internationally and this year we will have supporters from China for the first time, we have supporters from Malaysia and South Africa.
“So the international awareness of our creation of Reggae Marathon ambassadors is widened because when persons come here and have a wonderful experience we know they will go home and encourage persons to come to Jamaica,” Francis said in his address at the launch.
“This year we have much more registered participants than last year and we are expecting a minimum of 2,500 participants from more than 35 countries which participated last year,” he added.
One of the highlights of this year’s staging will be the participation of 2016 winners of the Tottori Prefecture Marathon in Japan, as part of the twinning agreement between the Westmoreland Parish Council and its counterparts in Japan, the Tottori Prefecture.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said the significance of the relationship between marathon and tourism and the impact that marathons have is not only on destination branding, but also on revenue generation.
“As a sporting event, the Reggae Marathon must be counted among one of our greatest assets. It provides a great example of the kinds of events and offerings that we need to harness and market to diversify tourism products and better spread the benefits of tourism to our people.
“So you are part of that movement and at each point there is revenue to be generated and jobs to be created. We are pleased that we have been supportive of it and I am happy to tell that the tourist board has over the years looked at how your innovation coincides with our objectives and for us to put in some further support,” said Bartlett.
Proceeds from the event will sponsor the 2016 male winner of the marathon to run in the Tottori Marathon in Japan in March 2017.
The IAAF Reggae Marathon, rated by a London newspaper as one of the top 10 marathons in the world, will be contested along the famed seven-mile strip of white sand beach of Negril.
The Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K events will begin and end at Long Bay Beach Park on Norman Manley Boulevard. Start time is at 5:15 am sharp.
The course is mostly flat and loops into the town of Negril then heads north towards the town of Green Island. Entry rates for the events are J$7,000 for the marathon, $6,000 for the half marathon and $5,000 for the 10K.
Participants are encouraged to register before November 28, as there is a J$2,000 penalty for late entries to each category.
Francis also challenged Jamaican athletes to come good at the event, as anyone who breaks any of the existing records will receive prize money.
Prize money for the events, according to Francis, remains at approximately J$1 million. Male record holder of the Reggae Marathon is Pamenos Ballentyne of St Vincent and the Grenadines who set it in 2001 at 2:21:0.5, while Ramilia Burangulova of Russia holds the female record at 2:42:25.
The male and female record holders for separate sections of the Reggae Half Marathon are Kenyans Moses Macharia at a time of 1:08:32 and Jackline Toror at 1:16:12. Both times were recorded in the 2001 campaign.
Reggae 10K record holder is Shawn Pitter of Jamaica with a time of 29:55 recorded in 2012, with the record holder for the female event being held by Carrie Tollefson of the USA with a time of 36:17. Of the six records established at the Reggae Marathon events, the 10K for males is the only one held by a Jamaican.