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.