Kingston, Jamaica – Some 2500 participants are expected to take part in this year’s Reggae Marathon in Jamaica which is this year celebrating its 15th anniversary.
The Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K event is scheduled for Saturday December 5, and tourism interests have lauded the event as a major boost for Jamaica’s sports tourism.
The event, which is organized by the Jamdammers Running Club of Kingston in association with the Jamaica Tourist Board, is set to be bigger and better with an expected record-breaking number of participants from over 36 countries, including newcomers Saudi Arabia and Suriname.
Speaking at the official launch of the event on Wednesday October 21, at the Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill congratulated the organizers on consistently executing a world-class event and used the opportunity to highlight the synergy between tourism and sport.
“This event shows the potential of sports tourism. Here you have an event that it is IAAF, AIMS and JAAA certified, attracting some 2500 people from across the globe.” stated Dr. McNeill.
He also noted that through the formation of JAMAICA Sport, a spinoff of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment’s Sports Tourism Implementation Committee (STIC), the Ministry has provided a framework to develop sports tourism, as well as leverage international sports events to increase visitor arrivals to the island.
“We had a meeting with all the national sporting associations in June and showed them some of the models that are being developed in Jamaica. The ones we have focused on are Jamaica STEAM [Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model] and Media PRO, which are sport tourism assessment models that allow us to project the economic impact as well as measure the media value and reach of these events.”
According to Diane Ellis, Sponsorship Manager for Reggae Marathon, Half-marathon and 10K, participants have chosen to stay at small hotels in Negril to enjoy a holistic experience and with a record increase of 28% in online registration so far, the tourism industry will certainly benefit from an upsurge in visitor arrivals ahead of the winter tourist season.
This increase has not gone unnoticed by President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Lee Issa, who was the guest speaker at the launch of the event. “The Reggae Marathon has been a major contributor in filling the rooms which 15 years ago remained empty as we awaited the start of the winter tourist season on December 15. We are pleased that Reggae Marathon is also growing and Negril is ready to accommodate the growth,” said Issa.
The event, which has now become a staple in the international running community, ranked among the top 10 marathons in the world, on more than five different occasions. According to Condé Nast UK the marathon is a must-do for sporting enthusiasts as it is “probably the world’s liveliest 10km run, half-marathon and marathon.” With such accolades it’s no wonder that special measures have been put in place to ensure the event will continue to live up to expectations.
Race Director, Alfred ‘Frano’ Francis said that “we’re going to have very special medals in honour of our 15th anniversary. We’re also going to have special memorabilia that are now being built for the participants. We will also have a performance post-race, from a leading Jamaican artiste….the synergy of music and sport will come to a different height with the Reggae Marathon this year.”
President of the Jamdammers Running Club of Kingston, Kaysia Johnson-Vaughan, also shared that any Jamaican participant who breaks the current Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K road race course records, will receive a cash prize that is double the listed amount for winners in each category.
The marathon is scheduled to begin at 5:15 am at Long bay Beach, situated along Negril’s famed seven mile white sand beach. It will be followed by the Finish Line Beach Bash, Victory Beach Party and an Awards Ceremony.