A consensus among runners I talked with was that the Reggae Marathon was the best overall experience they ever had. “An experience like no other.”
We all agreed that, once you are on the course; mile 3, mile 10, mile 20, whatever; it is between you, the pavement, and the environment. You could be in Washington, DC or Negril, Jamaica. What differentiates the race is the organization, the amenities, the on-course support, the start, the finish, and the post-race festivities. Of course, in Jamaica the people make a big difference. And that is where the Reggae Marathon shines. It is rated one of the ten best in the world.
Very few packet pick-up expos can be done in the Caribbean sun, with gentle ocean breezes and 80 degree temperatures. Although I hate to shop, the bright, exciting Jamaican colors, and hand-carved crafts make Christmas shopping for unique gifts a pleasure. Packet pick-up is a great deal of fun: exchanging war stories with other runners, and sipping a Red Stripe beer in a warm, comfortable setting. The environment quickly changes Friday night. Reggae music blares across the Couples Swept Away resort sports complex, while many resorts compete for bragging rights to serve the best pasta at the “World’s Best Pasta Party.” The handle is not just a marketing tool: it IS the “World’s Best Pasta Party.”
The start of the Reggae Marathon took place under a bright moon with Rastafarian drummers, the song “One Love” played, and torchbearers raised their flaming bamboo torches. The runners chatted and laughed as they ran the first few miles in the dark. The beach road to Negril was alive with the sounds of steel bands, cheering tourists, and locals. The marathon is becoming a signature event for a small island full of hospitality. This is all part of the experience that makes the Reggae Marathon one of the best races in the World.
If you have experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you have another opportunity: in December 2010 the Reggae Marathon will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. As the logo reads: Once you go, you know.
This was more than just a road race – more like a scene from a 5-star feature film.
“I just wanted to let you know that I think the marathon was very well run. Everybody did a great job and I was very impressed with the entire set up. Excellent job, I hope to be a part of it next year.”
Just a quick note that my wife and I had a wonderful time racing on Saturday. I think of the races we have done, this was the best. Beautiful weather, great people, lots of gatorade/water and the start was amazing. Well done (please pass on our compliments to the race director as well)! While our schedules may not permit us to be back for next year, we will try to run in future races. Unfortunately (for us), we had to go home on Saturday – we left around 11AM on race day – back to the cold and snow of Canada but we had a marvelous 10 day trip at Swept Away capped off by the run on Saturday. Thanks again.
I’ve run 18 marathons and this is one of my favorites.
It is with heartfelt gratitude that i take this opportunity to thank you all for organising such a terrific event. It was totally wonderful and exciting and already I have a team to go with me next year. I was surprised but thrilled at how well organized the meet was and I felt proud to be a Jamaican. Keep up the fantastic work.
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the full marathon. I have done over 60 marathons around the world and I think you got the event just right. PERFECT IN FACT. I would also like to pass on my thanks to the many wonderful helpers, who make the event possible. The smiling faces and kind words en-route make the day even more special. As I come in right at the back of the runners, my only problem was the heat—we don’t get a lot of that in England. With your many watering stations, I was able to get to the finish line in one piece. As soon as my head gets back to U. K. time, I will be booking for next year. Thank you again for a great race.
To everyone that contributed to the organisation of Reggae Marathon 2005, I salute you!! This was my first ever marathon and it was something I will never, ever forget. It was so, so well organised and it was well worth making the effort to get to Negril to do it. Things that stand out for me particularly are the pasta party (what a feast!), the torch lit start, the reggae bands and sound systems en-route and the helpfulness and cheeriness of all the organisers and volunteers right from the start to the finish line. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry my way round, it was such a wonderful experience.
There were two things that are imprinted on my mind most. The first happened at mile seventeen. Unfortunately, because of tendinitis in my foot, I had to stop training six weeks before the marathon. It was touch and go whether I would be able to do the full event, but when I got to the start line, I knew I wasn’t going to stop until I’d done 26.2. After seventeen miles I was hitting that wall. Then along came two young volunteers from Kingston, Philip and Sasha, and, after handing me Gu, Gatorade and water, they decided to help me along and ran a mile alongside me. I cannot thank them enough for their help and encouragement. If you can, please pass on my sincerest thanks to them and tell them I will see them again next year!
The other major memory was at mile nineteen when my body started flagging again. I was then joined by a volunteer in a white car with a mobile sound system who followed me all the way to the finish line. That man will never know how much he helped me through the last few miles as, when I turned round to thank him after I’d crossed the line, he had driven off. Again, if you know him, please convey my absolute gratitude to him. He was amazingly patient and sorely needed!!!
During the final four miles my friend and greatest supporter, Rebecca Wiersma, joined me and marched alongside me. I felt like the Queen of England covering the final Glory Mile with Rebecca, my mobile sound system, an ambulance, a volunteer on a bike and a policeman!! After six hours and fifty two minutes, my marathon was over. But the memories will never be gone. Thank you so, so much. I will most definitely be back again next year. Very, very well done, Jamdammers!!!!!
I had an absolutely great time at the event this year. It was my first successfully completed marathon and everything was as I expected. From the web site that gave me suggestions for hotels, to the pasta party/expo that was fabulous to the actual race with water stations every mile that were essential. I especially loved the music at every mile along with the bagged water and gatoraid. I plan to be back next year.
“Thank you for organising a wonderful marathon. It was perfect in every every way. The atmosphere was wonderful, there was no hitch in the transport, the medal looks fantastic, everything was perfect. Above all, the spirit of the Jamaicans must be lauded. Thank you for letting us have a great time. Merry Christmas and have a great year.”
Reggae Marathon event again mentioned as one of the “Top 10 places to run a marathon”
The 9th running of the Negril Marathon/Half thon was an excellent event. I am a mid-pack runner having run over 300 road races including 23 marathons and over 50 half thons and the Jamaica Reggae Marathon was above average for many reasons.
First of all, it was in Jamaica! IRIE! You cant beat the venue. The course was flat and it was an out and back where you got to see the leaders in front and who was in back of you as well. There was plenty of water and Gatorade on the course. These were given out in small plastic bags which was easy to drink from, but beware of stepping on a half full bag of water, they are slippery like a banana and in the darkness you cant see them.
Secondly the weather was real nice, warm, but nice. I chose to run the half because I was on VACATION! The early start facilitates running in the darkness before the sun comes up. The sun rose about 90 minutes after the start, but there was plenty of large trees giving the course shade well into another hour of running. The sun does get hot after it clears the trees, so if you aren’t used to the heat, best finish in under 2:30 hours. It was warm, much like south Florida in June, but not unbearable.
The package pickup was smooth. There were plenty of volunteers and they were actually all helping people instead of standing around talking to each other while runners waited in line. There were good race shirts/products for sale at reasonable prices at the pickup as well. The “Rhasta Pasta” party was very unique. There was traditional pasta but also some special island past too; too spicy for my taste, but very tasty. Half way thru the pasta party, they ran out of water however and if you were thirsty, you were forced to purchase soda. The lines were a little long as well.
After the race, there were plenty of fluids and fruits, some cookies too, but that was all. The medal was very nice and unique, definitely a keeper for me to display for years to come. I plan on going to Jamaica again maybe next year, and when I do, I will go to Negril and run this race again.
If there is a better overall experience at another event in the world, I’m not aware of it!
This is a terrific, special race. Good vibes all weekend, from the pasta party boldly (and with much justification) billed as the world’s best. Atmospheric start, with drummers and torchlight in the dark. Surely one of the highest volunteer:participant ratios you’ll find; we were cared for very well of every step of the way, and afterward. Every i dotted, every t crossed: brilliant bag system for liquids, absolute clarity at points where various race distances (there’s a 10k, a half, and a full marathon) diverged.
Historical weather records say it’s always hot this time of year, so do what you can to acclimate to the heat in the weeks beforehand and still expect to lose quite a few minutes to high temps. But PRs aren’t what this race is all about. You want a fast race, run Chicago or some other cool-weather flat marathon. You want a tremendously atmospheric weekend with lots of personal touch, in a place you’ll enjoy a few days before and/or after as vacation, this is your race.
Reggae Marathon included in the London Paper’s list of ‘Top 10 marathons around the world’
I have run over 15 marathons in several different states in the USA. This is truly the best because the amenities, friendly atmosphere and definitely the most awesome pasta party. It is truly the best kept marathon secret.
“My friend and I have just returned to England after competing in your fantastic marathon and want to tell you what a great time we had. Thank you. Without doubt yours was the happiest, most fun marathon we have ever competed in. The music was brilliant, the start was… – I am left with failed words, it was so good. The water, a great idea. Coconuts at the end, excellent. Your people are so kind and their encouragement was superb. In short we had a brilliant time. Please pass on our thanks to all who were concerned. I hope to be back in 2006 running in paradise again. Can we help? We heard you say at the awards party that your sponsors PUMA were going to be at some of the Expo’s to promote your event. If they are going to be at the London one we would be delighted to appear on the stand and tell everyone, ‘Go to Jamaica and do the Reggae Marathon you won’t have a better time anywhere else’. Good luck for your 2006 event.”
By the way, your race is the best organized of all the marathons I have run, so far, including New York and Chicago.
“I had such a great time and my two girlfriends did also. Yes, we’ll be there next year if life spares us, with some more friends, ok. This year was one of my best years since I improved on my time from 2002, it feels good. Thanks for making reggae marathon 2005 fantastic. The goodies in our bag was awesome. Have a great holiday and to your family.”
Thank you and the race organizers and volunteers for putting on one of the best races on the planet! You got both the thousand little details and the race experience big picture just right!
Great race!! My wife and I both loved it…Pasta party amazing..Beautiful medal and shirt…Race day was something special… We loved the 5.15am start and running in the dark..we will definitely run again
Thank you very much for a superb race. I am definitely coming back to do another Reggae Marathon.