The annual Reggae Marathon by Running Events Jamaica is more than a race event, it’s an experience. The feel-good island vibes of Jamaican music, cuisine, and a white sand beach combine to add an extra high to your morning workout. This year’s event hits the shores of Negril on Sunday, December 8.

Pre-Race Pasta Party

The tone is set from the night before the race at “The World’s Best Pasta Party” where registrants also collect race-day packages. Melodies of the islands spill into the streets inviting people inside while aromas of meats, cheeses, and sauces tossed in sizzling skillets tease the nostrils. Live performances, artisan shopping booths, and blocks of tents serving delectable pastas fill appetites for both good food and a good time.

On Your Mark, Get Set ...

A provided lightweight bag completes your needed preparation for the world-renowned Reggae Marathon. Race information along with a branded T-shirt, beverages, light snacks, local guidebooks, and pinnable race bibs are included inside.

In the wee hours of race day, while nature’s nightly critter choir may still be chirping in the trees, participants lace up their running shoes. Shuttle buses are the only vehicles observed on the closed road, picking up runners in front of their Negril accommodations to transport them to the starting point. The grassy area inside the venue is sprinkled with sponsor tents providing hot beverages to perk up participants before the races commence.

A wide archway with the event logo marks the starting line. Clusters of eager individuals and groups limber up with stretches and quick workouts before uniting behind the spot anticipating the 5:15 a.m. start time. A horn’s blare and upbeat music signal the beginning of the concurrent Reggae Marathon events: 10K, half-marathon, and full marathon.

… Go!

Participants dressed in representative flags, colorful outfits, and even a few tutus all add to the cheerful atmosphere that Reggae Marathon creates each year. Thousands of people from dozens of countries flow onto the streets of Negril while a mascot repeatedly waves the black, green, and gold of a large Jamaican flag. Racers then dart at various speeds looping the resort-lined Hip Strip. Whether it be by foot or wheelchair, racers of all shapes and sizes populate the main road as far as the eye can see.

The cool night air of the tropical winter season, coupled with slight wisps of sea breeze from the nearby beach, create a welcomed relief as the sweat of a good workout covers the body. Beats of reggae and calypso travel for miles along the road as a steelband orchestra and multiple car audio sound systems mark every completed mile. The energy is kept high as runners make their way to and from the festively lit Negril roundabout with a Christmas tree at the center.

Reggae Marathon transitions from darkness to dawn as the sun rises from behind the trees. If joyous music at each mile isn’t enough to keep your spirits up, the ongoing encouragement from cheering strangers sure will! As the area comes alive, the gradient morning sky adds to the warmth of the smiles of fellow racers and supportive onlookers.

The Finish Line

A medal for finishers and live performances await everyone at the finish line, plus special prizes for the race winners. Methods to wind down after your race include revitalizing with light meals and beverages—a chilled drink of coconut water directly from the source is especially refreshing; maybe treat yourself to a soothing massage on the sands to relieve tense muscles; or perhaps take a dip in the pristine Caribbean Sea for the ultimate cool down.

If you’re ever staying in Jamaica during Reggae Marathon, but not the running type, you should definitely consider joining in on the good vibes as a sideline supporter. Conversely, if you’re a marathon fanatic seeking to build your collection of finishing medals, make sure to add the Reggae Marathon to your must-run race list.