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Updated: Apr 13, 2020

My first Reggae Marathon was an experience of a life time. I will do it again and again. I will also add long distance running to my calendar.

Beautiful Negril was the site of the Reggae Marathon. I was not prepared for this challenge, but I was all in. My weekend started with a late Friday evening drive from Kingston to Montego Bay. Driving across the island is an adventure. It allows me to engage with Jamaica’s beautiful scenic countryside and coastlines and the unique topology of the inter-lands. Traffic on the road was at its minimum, so I went into cruise mode, as usual keeping the Law Officers under observation. As I drove through Linstead basin I could see that the mountains up above were under heavy cloud cover and rainfall.

On top of the mountain the rainfall was heavy and sustained. In the vicinity of Unity Valley Rest Stop a car drove past me at high-speed. I thought that the driver must be ignorant to the dangers of a wet road. By the conclusion of my thought, I witnessed a movie like moment. The car slid and went out of control. It made two complete revolutions, then a thunderous crash in the side of the hill, then it flipped twice and landed back on its wheels, then swirl back into the side of the hill for another massive crash and finally came to a stop in a drain. My heart beat violently in my chest as I feared for the lives of the driver and passengers. I quickly stopped and rushed to the wrecked car. Gladly, as I approached the car the driver climbed from the right window without any visible physical injury. Gladly there were no passengers in the car with him. I called the highway operators to provide urgent support and when I arrived at the toll booth I reminded the officer on duty to dispatch a wrecker to the crash site.

The sunny skies returned as I started descending the last leg of the highway. The drive along the coastline was uneventful, I was however cautious for the rest of the way. As I arrived on the traffic filled Queens Avenue in Montego Bay, I became excited about the prospects of the night life in Mobay. I thought excitingly about a night out at Pier 1 or Margaretville. However, my tired body desired differently. I checked into the airbnb which was just lovely. After cooling down and freshing up, I entered the bed for a short rest, the bed hugged and loved me. The next time I awoke it was 5:30 am. I quickly changed and hit the road, my warm up run took me to the airport and back to Gloucester Avenue, then back and forth along Kent Avenue for many power sprints. About midday I checked out of the apartment, had lunch at the Pelican restaurant and then headed towards Negril. Before I left Mobay, I stopped at Fontana Pharmacy to purchase some salts. Hydration with salts is key to a successful race for me as I am a big sweater.

The journey to Negril, as always, was scenic and beautiful. As I drove into Negril it was clear the preparation for D-day was in high gear. At Breezes hotel traffic slowed, registration was in high gear. I decided to check-in first and then do my registration later. Please visit Rockhouse at West End. It was my first visit, it was just wonderful, and the staff were very client centric. This is a beautiful property situated along the cliff side overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The bungalows and apartments are all nested in a lush vegetation of tropical flora connected by concrete trails. Everything seems to be made of stone and wood. The bars and pools are all so very strategically sited to eat up the sunrises and sunsets. They provided the best sites of the ocean, the horizon and the star filled skies. After check-in I went to do my registration, collected my bag and supplies at Swept Away Sports Club. Later in the night there was a lovely ‘pasta party”, my plate was like a mountain. I was stuff, but it was all delicious.

D-day begun at 3 am, I woke up early and headed to the starting point to get parking and warm up my aged body. Warming up for me was short jogs and sprints, followed by many stretches. The race begun at 5:15 am. I had one simply strategy, run slowly all the way while competing with me. The most challenging portion of the journey was the first 3 miles. Clearly in the early “mawning” my body was not properly warmed up. Twice I felt strained in my ankles and calf muscles which sent alarming signals to my brain. I slowed and kept pushing on, always ignoring my fellow competitors putting distance between me and them. A lady looking about 70 years old came alongside me, she smiled as if to say I see that you are hurting but keep going. Another lady ran next to her and said “you inspire me, I remembered you from last year”. She gave me one final look and drew another gear, her shirt tail went flying, the next time I saw her she was in the other lane heading back to our destination. Ha.

When I arrived at the roundabout I felt accomplished. I felt good and was motivated to take on the unknown. I was advised to stop and stretch and I did this twice in the middle of my journey. Can I tell you, I felt better on the second leg, my body felt oiled and heated. I decided not to be overly ambitious and hold my cool, so I kept a steady slow run, finishing was the objective. By then the morning sun was out and the heat was coming up off the hot asphalt. I started bathing myself in gatorade and water to cool down. Many event staff, hotel workers and tourists were now on the sideline in their numbers. It was the best motivation of all!!! Comments include “run for life”, “you are already a winner”, “compete against you”, “yu doin well farda”, “sexy ole man go de”, etc. The sweetest part of the journey is hearing the sound system in the distance at the finish line blaring in the air. Again I reminded myself that I needed to run passed the finish line and turn and come back to the park. I moved into second gear, nothing to take away the wind from me, my strides were strong and consistent. As I turned, even Bolt would be impressed with me as I ran towards the finish line. Hearing my name, lifting my hands and crossing the finish line was just devine. The sponsors were out in their numbers. After the race I drank lots of water from Wisynco, ate lots of ripe bananas from Jamaica Producers, drank lots of coconut water and ate coconut jelly and of course I ate some jerk chicken and fritters. I also took time out to lie down on the white sand and swim in crystal clear waters of Negril. I also took time out to watch the stage show and lift my gun fingers for the great one, Warrior King. The best part of the day, I must admit, was standing on the road watching the racers completing the course. The longer I watched, some profound observations were made - the average age of the marathon runners seem to be over 40 years old, significant number of the racers were from overseas and at the finish line it was clear that 26 miles took dramatic impacts on a number of the runners. In one particular case a senior lady had to be carried across the finish line by three other competitors.

I am a changed man, I am now a #soca and marathon #chaser. I hope in 2020 to synchronize my travelling activities to destinations across the globe that love run and fun.

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Mar 30, 2020


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