At least 600 runners and walkers are set to travel to Jamaica to run along the established Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K Negril route, even as the event is a virtual race this year.
Their run, which began in Negril on November 13, will continue until December 4, followed by a vacation on the island.
Runners from 30 countries participated virtually last year. However, for the second year of virtual running, long-standing patrons from other parts of Jamaica and the rest of the world, are insisting on travelling to Negril amid the pandemic to recapture the Reggae Marathon experience.
“The hosting of Reggae Marathon, virtually, shows the organiser’s agility and commitment to ensuring that participants still have a space to experience this popular and loved activity and still get a taste of the island in their respective countries,” said Donovan White, director of Tourism. “The Jamaica Tourist Board is pleased to partner with Reggae Marathon as we continue our road to recovery of Jamaica’s tourism sector and look forward to welcoming participants to the destination in the future.”
Alfred ‘Frano’ Francis, race director, said runners and walkers in countries such as Australia and Japan plan to create a Jamaican setting and the Reggae Marathon experience they have come to enjoy over the past 20 years during the staging of the in-person Reggae Marathon races.
He said, in the city of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, members of the Aussie Team Toowoomba – also known as the Rasta Rockets – are busy preparing for their run in the 2021 Virtual Reggae Half Marathon, set to start at 5 am on December 4 from the Queen’s Park.The Reggae Half Marathon runners aim to return to finish the last 5 km with the Park Runners. This initiative to recreate the Reggae Marathon experience in Australia is being led by Celia Innerarity, a member of the Jamdammers Running Club of Kingston and committed Reggae Marathon volunteer, who is now located in Toowoomba. Her running partner Ted Carter is one of the race directors for the Queens Park Run held regularly in Toowoomba.
Francis explained that the Jamaicans in Australia were working together to ensure that all participants experience an authentic Jamaican feel, complete with a Jamaican DJ playing reggae music, as well as a display of Jamaican foods.
He said the organisation Party Hut will also have Jamaican and reggae paraphernalia, including Rasta wigs and tutus, available for sale.
In the prefecture of Tottori, Japan, there is a team gearing up to have fun, Jamaican style, during the run period.
About 30 runners will be participating and there are plans to create a Reggae experience for the participants in that prefecture.