Large field expected for Dec 4 Reggae MarathonThursday, October 28, 2010
BY HOWARD WALKER Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
A record number of countries is expected for the 10th staging of the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K events set for December 4, it was revealed at the launch of the event at the Altamont Court Hotel in Kingston yesterday.
Last year, a whopping 21 nations were represented, which was a big boost for Jamaica's sport's tourism, and expectation are high this year.
Diane Ellis, director of sponsorship, of the event, told the Observer that the "entries are still coming in" and anticipation is high that last year's figure will increase.
The Reggae Marathon, Half-Marathon and 10k event will start at the Long Bay Beach Park situated along Negril's famed seven-mile white sand beach. The course loops into the town of Negril, then heads towards the town of Green Island.
Sports Tourism is one of the island's fastest growing sectors and the event is seen as very important, hence, a plethora of sponsors, in conjunction with the Ministry of Sports and the Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB), is on board.
John Lynch, chairman and director of the JTB, said the event makes perfect sense for tourism.
Said Lynch: "It promotes Jamaica in all markets. This is a great event for Negril, the start of the Winter season and the timing could not have been better."
Reggae Marathon chairman Barclay Ewart said in his speech read by Dianne Ellis, that the vision was to create an annual event built on an activity that they love -- running -- that would not only have an impact on Jamaica, but also the world.
"Having seen the success of international marathons such as Boston and New York, they (organisers) decided that this was the way to go," said Ewart.
The Jamdammers Running Club, organisers of the event, said this year marks the 15th anniversary and was in keeping with their mandate of promoting healthy lifestyle through running and exposing and developing world-class talent at middle distances.
Club chairman Emile Leiba said after 10 years "we can safely say that the Marathon is achieving some of the goals and objective".
The Reggae Marathon will bring visitors to the island and Minister of Sports, Olivia "Babsy" Grange, said this demonstrates that sports tourism works.
Said Grange: "I truly believe that the world of sports respects and has fallen in love with Jamaica. If we organise our events the way we know how to, and if we invite the world, they will come," she noted.
Registration for the event opens on December 2 at the Couples Swept Away Sporting Complex between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 pm.
On December3, there will be the Jamaica Hotel Tourism Association's (JHTA) "World Best" Pasta party from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm, also at Couples Swept Away, and Village Bash at the Burger King Parking Lot in Negril Town Square, starting at 8:00 pm.
Saturday will see the races starting and finishing on the Long Bay Beach Park on the Norman Manley Boulevard, starting at 5:15 am.
There will be water/aid station every mile; cooling stations with misters and iced towel wraps, reggae music at every mile and medical stations positioned along the course with a helicopter on call for airlift to hospital in needed.
The male and female winners will receive the Bob and Rita Marley trophies and all participants will receive commemorative finishers medals.
Race director Alfredo Francis said they have taken great pride that the event continues to hold its own and bring economic benefits to Negril and Jamaica.
"Many events like the Reggae Marathon have not managed to stay the course because of financial difficulties. Some major international cities have been left in debt and have faced financial disaster after staging international games and marathon events," said Francis.
Approximately J$1 milion will be available in total prize monies. Entry fees for the marathon and Half-Marathon is US$95 per person and US$70 for the 10K. Deadline for entries close on November 24.
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