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Massive Fun At Reggae Marathon 2010 In Negril, Jamaica

As soon as we stepped on the shuttle bus at about 4:15 AM on 4th December 2010, the party atmosphere began. The driver taking us to the starting line for the annual Reggae Marathon gave us a hearty greeting with a big laugh.

It was still dark and the cool December air was comfortable. The road was wet from an earlier rain shower, and we all hoped that there would be no more of that.

reggae marathon beach at negril jamaica

When the bus set us down, there was already quite a crowd in the holding area, tall trees towering over portable toilets, medical post, media booths, and other official tents. An MC on the public address system kept the crowd informed about the run-up to the event and announced the arrival of noteworthy competitors like Jamaican schools, corporate teams, running clubs and international participants like Team Lipstick from New York. There was a particularly large contingent of men wearing PIHL shirts, obviously employees working on the new cruise ship pier nearing completion in Falmouth.

team lipstick at reggae marathon negril jamaica 2010

As race time approached, people were warming up, stretching, meeting up with friends and making last-minute visits to the toilets. A light drizzle was greeted by the MC as a blessing for the day, and the crowd seemed to agree, making no effort to get shelter. People carrying cameras and phones hastened to find plastic bags to protect their equipment. A few minutes later, the drizzle turned into a heavy downpour which made everyone scramble for cover. Thankfully it did not last very long and about ten minutes before starting time, the crowd of more than a thousand persons eased out onto the road to get into position.

The music stopped and live drumming began, with the atmosphere getting electric. Then another heavy shower started and the competitors could do nothing but bear the cold rain and hope that the race would start soon. Some started to dance to keep warm. Then the drumming stopped and the starting official asked the crowd, “People are you ready?” It was clear from the loud roar in the affirmative that the rain had not dampened spirits and after a blast of the starting horn at 5:15 AM, Bob Marley’s Jammin’ filled the night air as the race got on the way.

As the competitors crossed the starting line, their chips, attached to their shoes, registered a ping and they moved through a corridor of naked flaming torches on bamboo poles. After a few hundred meters, the race started to open up and competitors began jostling for position to move on up to the front. Crowds on either side of the road cheered and racers smiled in appreciation.

After another few hundred yards, the racers came upon a reggae band playing golden oldies. Many competitors gave the “thumbs-up” as they went by and the band members acknowledged the gesture with big grins. People who had never been to Negril for this event before soon began to realize why it was called the Reggae Marathon - the organizers had injected a huge dose of fun into what could be a dull and painful experience!

The party atmosphere was maintained all along the route. About a mile further on, a steel band delivered tropical rhythms. At regular intervals, volunteers handed out plastic bags of water and gatorade as they encouraged and praised the runners for their efforts.

Some participants did the 10K, some the half-marathon, and others the marathon. Some walked, some ran, and some did a combination of both. One guy ran with baby twins in a double buggy.

double twins buggy at reggae marathon 2010 negril jamaica

The eldest participant was eighty-five years old. Some were large, and others were skinny. People came out to watch, to cheer, and to encourage. At one point, some guys held a garden hose and willingly sprayed anyone who wanted it.

getting sprayed with garden hose at reggae marathon 2010 negril jamaica

At the finish line, photographers snapped and helpers garlanded the competitors with Reggae Marathon medals. Chips were removed and handed in and the competitors moved into the celebration area, the bulk arriving as the sun was rising across the Caribbean Sea. People stretched and helped themselves to the generous handouts of freshly cut coconut water, gatorade, water, bananas, oranges, and cereal bars.

stretching at celebration party reggae marathon 2010 negril jamaica

A couple of massage beds were positioned on the beach and the tired and weary took advantage of these services. Some hastened to the beach and splashed about in the  sea.

getting massages on the beach negril jamaica reggae marathon 2010

The mood was jovial as friends exchanged stories and snapped each others’ photographs. When the finishing times were posted on a bulletin board, crowds gathered quickly to check their results. The celebrations continued till midday, bringing the 2010 Reggae Marathon to an end. Next year, the race will be held on 3 December 2010. A contingent of competitors, Team Silver Sands Jamaica, should defnitely enter.

medal reggae marathon 2010 negril jamaica

Jamaica Villas Happenings