08 Dec Reggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica
Just seven months ago, we were living in Jamaica as Peace Corps Volunteers. Now, we’re back for a three week visit and free to follow our own agenda. For our first week, we completed a little road trip to visit friends (and “family”) around the island, ending with a stop in Negril for the annual Reggae Marathon.
Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10k
The Reggae Marathon is an internationally certified and highly acclaimed event, held annually on the first Saturday of December in Negril, Jamaica. As far as events in Jamaica go, this one is top notch. As far as running events are concerned, it is a truly unique and fun experience.
The race entry fee ($60 – $120, depending on your race distance and time of registration) includes a pass to the World’s Best Pasta Feed, an official T-shirt, drawstring athletic bag, finisher medal, and entry to the post-race Victory Beach & Awards Party.
World’s Best Pasta Feed
When I first heard “pasta feed,” I had pictured tubs and tubs of your run-of-the-mill spaghetti. Yes, there was spaghetti but there was also so much more. Many of the big resorts host booths serving up every version of pasta imaginable (plus breads and salads, too). To top it off, there’s live entertainment.
We usually go pick up our registration packets around 5pm on Friday so we can be at the front of the line for the Pasta Feed at 5:30. It’s a great way to start off the race weekend!
The race itself is almost completely flat and paved. Runners gather under the stars at Long Bay Beach Park for a 5:15am race start. Since the main road is closed for the race, free shuttle buses run up and down the road all morning so you can easily reach the starting line from most hotels in Negril. Bathrooms and bag check are available nearby. (For more information about race details, see the Reggae Marathon website.)
The race starts promptly at 5:15am under the stars
Within an hour of the race start, the sun rises and the heat of the day starts to set in. For those running the 10k, the temperature change is minimal; but those running the half and full marathon have even more heat to contend with.
Finish Line Beach Bash
The post-race party allows runners to celebrate their accomplishment and recoup with fresh coconut water (the rehydrating beverage of choice for Usain Bolt), Red Stripe beer, bananas, snack samples, Jamaican music, and the beach just steps away. Thanks to chip timing technology, race results are available quickly and over $10,000US in prizes are announced at the party.
Tips for a Successful Reggae Marathon
- If you’re visiting from a cooler climate, consider arriving more than a few days in advance to let your body adjust to the temperature. Keep the climate change in mind when you choose your race distance, as many who have been training elsewhere find themselves affected by the heat.
- Register online before July 31 for the best rate.
- Book your hotel well in advance. Many of the best Negril hotels will be full months before the race. (Consider independently-owned accommodations like Rockhouse, Catch A Falling Star, Tensing Pen, and Country Country. For a budget option: Traveller’s Beach Resort.)
- Attend the Pasta Feed because it’s awesome, but avoid the temptation to over-eat!
- Hydrate! Water and juice stations along the race course will distribute water in small plastic bags (Jamaican style). Just bite a small corner off to suck out of, and you can actually carry the water with you a long ways.
- Visit the Home Grown Christmas Fest after the race for fantastic Jamaican food, live music, plant sale, and locally-made gifts in the backyard of a local Jamaican family’s historic home (Event is about 1 hour from Negril. Contact us for details.)
Celebrating after Reggae Marathon with Peace Corps Volunteers (see more in the #JumpingJedd Gallery)
We planned our return visit to Jamaica in early December for three main reasons: the weather is pleasant, peak tourist season has not yet kicked in (December 15 – April 15), and we wanted to participate in two of our favorite Jamaican events: the Reggae Marathon and the Home Grown Christmas Fest. It really was the perfect time to come back, and there’s a good chance we’ll try to do it again in the future.
Have you done the Reggae Marathon? We’d love to hear about your experience and any tips you can add to our list!
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