Reggae Marathon, Jamaica!
Reggae Marathon was a massive success.
Not only was the event...just pure vibes and well organised, but I also managed to place 1st in the Half Marathon.
The trip up to Negril from Barbados was quite a long trek and because of that - I didn't reach in time for the pasta party! Too bad because Jamaican food is a treasure. But I did reach my hotel just in time to go straight to bed for an early alarm.
The race begins at 5.15am sharp - it stayed dark until after 6 too. The morning was cool and crisp (by Bajan standards) and there was alot of activity at the start line - drummers, stilt walkers, a drone filming us, and teems of people getting warm and ready for the bang.
I was nervous...obviously...but prepared and felt very good on the startline. It was a bit of a rush to go off, since the 10K, half and full marathon all start at the same time, so I positioned myself a few rows deep since I knew all the speedy 10k runners would want to be at the front, and that was fine by me. Frano had a few words for us as is the norm, but "no long talking" as we say and then it was go time.
The course was great, it's flat and fast and an excellent course to aim for a PR. It runs 5k to the west, turn around and come back to the start/finish (where the 10k ends) and then 5k to the east, turn around and come back to start/finish where the half marathon ends (and the full marathon does two loops.)
So the first half of my course (i.e. 10K) was still dark, cool, and had cars parked along the roadside blazing reggae music. I loved this. It added so much to the atmosphere of the race! I think this aspect - music/music trucks - could be a great feature for local races to add in. There were also lots of volunteers along the route, cheering and handing out water, gels, and what appeared to be an electrolyte drink, probably from Hy-lite which is an event sponsor. The water and fuel stations were perfectly adequate although I accidentally missed two water stops (and I forgot to run with my water...so I think this is what helped stick me up a bit...I'll get to that.)
I got back to the start/finish in perfect time, I was running on schedule, I felt decent, and I was actually coming in around the same time as the first 10K female finishers. So of course I was like shucks, I could have even run the 10K! Lol. Around the 11K mark it was getting light, it was still cool, I missed a second water stop, and I began to have a pain in my side, like a stitch. I could see the first place woman at this time, she was very close and I knew I could catch up....it was just a matter of when, and how much my time would drop off.
This stitch may just have crushed me a bit, lol, as I suffered (emotionally too...), had to slow my pacing right up (prior to this I was pushing a 4.25/k target pace, but the kilometre I got the stitches was a 5.00/k pace for e.g.) so I could see that if this continued, I would not be on target for my PB run. The stitches continued and I wasn't sure what to do except keep crawling, but then I had the idea to squeeze my side and press on it, and the stitches dissolved enough that I was able to pick back up to 4.3X/k pace.
I caught up to the first place woman around the 13 or 14k mark, chilled alongside her for just a short while, we ended up sharing a water bag because at a water stop she missed water but I grabbed one, so I passed it to her to share (yes I'm that person, I am very nice lol, I will compete with you and want to beat you, but I will still crack jokes and laugh with you). So then I passed her and continued along at the 16k mark (final turnaround to the last 5k stretch to the finish).
Of course along this last 4K I was still running "within my capability" i.e. 4.30s/k is well within my ability on a half marathon and especially 4k to go. My target pace at this point was to be 4.15k - so you can see I was off, but my body just wasn't having it for me. It was like nah fam, we ain't giving you what you axin for. So I just pushed myself along and begged the kilometres to hurry up and come nuh. With a mile to go I let go and just made my last push, all the while I had a bicycle man following me and announcing my arrival via comms to the start/finish (as first female in half). I also had two guys with me at this point, one who said "let's go!" and pushed, leaving me behind, and another guy who stuck with me at the same effort.
Coming up to that finish line I was happy enough! I had to swerve through walkers/10k finishers but it was fine since it distracted me from not being able to really open up. I love opening up at a finish line.....
All in all...despite my race plan falling apart...despite not accomplishing my time goal...I came first in the half and I loved this event. I love Jamaica and there is so much to do before or after you participate in the Reggae Marathon that you will have to spend a few days or a week just exploring. The country is beautiful, the people are chill and so hospitable, and from beaches, to mountains, to rivers, there is alot to occupy you. Plus FOOD!
Listen to the Runnin Bout podcast episode link above for a recap fresh after finishing the event, as well as an interview with Lisa Laws, Founder of Reggae Runnerz and, her right-hand Dawn Calhoun. Their group, the Reggae Runnerz, are a huge group who know how to party - and how to run! If you're planning to attend the Reggae Marathon you can book through them, even if you're just a cheerleader. Cheerleaders welcome! Oh yeah and the after party is bomb!!!!
Kudos to Frano, Diane and the team for an excellent event, and grateful to have been a part of it in 2018, the 18th year of the Reggae Marathon! Keep this website close so you can sign up for the Reggae Marathon next year.
More news on the finishers via Loop News article on Reggae Marathon here. You'll want to find out who won the marathon, trust me!