Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K

It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that I do love the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K which is run annually in Negril, Jamaica on the first weekend of December. In 2013, race day will be December 7.

There are so many things I like about the Reggae Marathon and I’ve covered them pretty extensively in earlier posts, so I’ll skip by much of that for the moment to get to the heart of this post.  I should stress that it is a non-commercial message and strictly one from me, motivated by a couple of things, one of the biggies being the desire to see some local friends enjoy this event for themselves.

A big feature of the event is groups that organize themselves to participate. The model I have in mind relative to this post, is ‘Easy Skankin’. They are a loosely affiliated group out of New York (and area) that has become a bit of a fixture now at the Reggae Marathon weekend. The de facto group leader is Larry Savitch, one of the three intrepid members of the “Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge”, chronicled here in 2012, complete with its own Facebook page and ever so much manly trash-talk. The other two “Reggae Runners’ being Chris Morales, the official Reggae Marathon blogger and myself. Oh, and just in case ‘Easy Skankin” is giving anyone pause for thought – it is a Bob Marley song! (But, you knew that, right?) They design a team shirt each year and make a fun presence at the Friday night pasta dinner and party, as well as in the three race events. Oh yeah, post-race too. Larry, shown in the picture here is modeling the 2012 team shirt.

Dan, Larry (Easy Skankin') and Chris at Rick's

There is a group coming from the Toronto area via the Runners Mark store and at least one other Canadian group of women, “Running Girlz”. In 2013, another group has laid down a marker that few will challenge! ‘Black Girls Run’ is returning to Negril with an unbelievable (at present count) 142 participants! They are going to be a force to be reckoned with and I know they are going to just enjoy the living daylights out of the event. And, last year the Morales clan showed up in numbers, some to run and some to cheer!

OK. That is all nice. So what?

Well, I have been quietly trying to organize something that would allow West Coast runners to form up a group and head for Negril. I can guarantee that for people who like destination running, this is going to wind up high on your list of favourite events. The motto: ‘Once you go, you’ll know’, pretty much sums it up. They back that up with “Come for the Run – Stay for the Fun” (A few seem to think it should be ‘Come for the Run – Stay for the Rum’, but we can leave that to personal taste, so to speak. The Red Stripe is always cold and refreshing!)

I worked with a travel agent to see if there was a ‘deal’ that can be put together to make it all easy, but for reasons to follow, that hasn’t worked out so well. Part of the reason is individual preferences and another part is the actual flight options.

Breakfast time - Rondel Village, Negril

My personal preference is a low cost option using a red-eye flight and booking into mid-range local accommodation with meals not-included. I have enough knowledge of the area that I am comfortable with those choices. Others may prefer a more packaged, even ‘all inclusive’ deal. Those exist and many are pretty spectacular, as long as you are willing to pay the price! The Reggae Marathon web site offers links for travel and accommodation, as well as flight discounts from American Airlines.  The good news is that the Reggae Marathon falls just outside the ‘high season’ so rates are more modest and weather is usually great.

2012 Medal - Half Marathon

I would love to offer myself as the core organizer of a group from the Vancouver area (or for that matter any blog reader who wants to join in) providing unofficial advice and personal perspectives on specific options as I know them, leaving it to each individual to make their own formal arrangements. I am happy to take a lead in organizing a running group both before departure and on the ground in Jamaica. Anyone remotely thinking this could be of interest can e-mail me at or send a PM on my Facebook account or just talk to me. Please feel free to contact me for more information, with no commitment required at this time. I have prepared a brief fact sheet, including what I know about flights and accommodations as well as on-the-ground details and can send that to anyone wanting more on the nitty gritty of it all. It might seem awfully early to be planning re an event in December, but if you are a bargain hunter or need to book time off work, it is certainly time to start thinking about it.

I have collaborated with a travel agent who worked hard at trying to build a specific group package, but airlines now have such strict rules for group fares that we agreed it would be virtually impossible to squeeze a diverse bunch of people into the single format demanded. There are deals and packages to be had at the individual/couple/family level and we agreed that for those wanting professional assistance, I would recommend contacting: Patti has worked in the travel industry for many years, and I have confidence in directing anyone to her that feels more comfortable in planning their travel via a professional.

Now for the ‘sales pitch’ on what is so great about the event and why any ‘destination runner’ should give the Reggae Marathon a serious look.

Just one pasta station! Looks pretty - tastes great!

Pasta, reggae, Red Stripe and friends!

Where else are you going to find yourself at what is justly billed as the best pre-race pasta party in the world, able to take over the whole road along a seven mile white sand beach, running to the sounds of sweet reggae music, supported by the most enthusiastic volunteers anywhere, finishing with a fresh coconut and a Red Stripe beer, more reggae music and finally, that refreshing dip in the Caribbean Sea? Oh, and start in the soft warm darkness, between a row of torches, to the sounds of – yes, you’ve got it – SWEET REGGAE MUSIC! Check out this VIDEO from the official Reggae Marathon Blog site and while you are there, make sure you look at some of the other posts! And, if you need any further information about Jamaica, try the Visit Jamaica site.

There are definitely serious runners, but most people are just in a different zone of total enjoyment of the situation and the event. The three distances give great options. Anyone able to run 10K around an hour will finish before sunrise. Two hour half marathoners will be finishing as the sun is just nicely brightening the day. Full marathoners are going to see the tropical sun most years. The hydration systems available from the many aid stations ensure a good run, but do bring that sunscreen, and make it the water-proof sport kind, because there is no question you are going to sweat! The three events make it possible for families to have choices and walkers are definitely welcome.

It is the tropics and while temperatures at that time of year are far from extreme, they are not conducive to PB efforts, but that just doesn’t seem to be the point for most people. Negril is billed as ‘the Capital of Casual’.  That and the fact that the organizers, led by race director Alfred “Frano” Francis, are doing everything they can to make it the best experience you can have, is what makes this event so appealing.

Larry and Karen Savitch in Negril - Photo: Chris Morales

While possible, I do not recommend jetting in and out unless you have no other choice. Don’t forget the race is actually Saturday, and that you DO NOT want to miss the pasta party and package pick-up Friday evening. A couple of days of acclimatization to local conditions isn’t a bad idea  and then you don’t want to miss the post-race beach time where you will surely meet/recognize many other Reggae Marathon participants. And, did I mention the Red Stripe? What about the jerk pork and chicken? Patties (chicken, beef, veggie) on the beach? Soon come, mon! This stuff takes time.

Beach Time

Negril is a place where you can just sit on a beach and watch the clouds and do no more, but Jamaica is a fascinating country and there are many historical and cultural things to see and do. I guess one ‘cultural thing’ could be sunset at Rick’s Café or other nearby watering holes. For reggae fans, there is the option of a pilgrimage to Nine Mile, the birth place and resting place of reggae legend, Bob Marley. The point is, that you may just need a little extra time, and of course there may be other options than spending the whole time in Negril, especially if you were to do what I would always do if I had the time and resources, which is taking about two weeks with the Reggae Marathon smack in the middle. Just one bit of advice on that – stay in Negril for at least one day post-race!

Jamaican Sunset - Negril

So, there you have my non-commercial, commercial message on the Reggae Marathon and my offer to be an informal organizer for a West Coast Canadian contingent! We will absolutely have to have a great name, but we can hold on that until we see how many are interested in becoming ‘Reggae Runners’.


  1. ThatRunninGuy
    06.01.2013 - 1:18pm

    Love the post Dan. This will be my 5th in-a-row Reggae Marathon and it continues to be a highlight of my running year! Especially love being in Negril with family and friends. My only beef with this post is the size of my photo 🙂 Just kidding of course

  2. ReggaeMarathon RunninGuy
    06.01.2013 - 1:20pm

    Really enjoyed your post Dan. You’ve really captured the true essence of running at Reggae Marathon: good food, great friends and family…all in the Capital of Casual. See you back here this December 7 for Reggae Marathon 2013!

  3. RITZadmin
    06.01.2013 - 4:34pm

    Looking forward to being in Negril again. Next time I’ll make your photo bigger ‘Runnin’ Guy’!

  4. Larry Savitch
    06.02.2013 - 5:06am

    great post Dan.. thanks for the big ups and picture… good advice to get things done early.. we are booked both flight and resort since February.. “Easy Skankin” takes this very seriously :0)
    We take the all-inclusive route cause we are really lazy and drink too much.. but doesn’t matter, it’s a great time beginning to end no matter!!

  5. RITZadmin
    06.02.2013 - 7:45am

    Couldn’t have said it better, and hey, it IS the “Capital of Casual”