Jamaica, known as home of the world’s fastest man and the birthplace of many world class sprinters. With media focus primarily on our sprinters, I am sure many people around the world erroneously wonder if anyone in Jamaica runs further than 800 meters. Of course we do have middle and long distance runners, we also have marathon runners. There has been an annual marathon in Negril for over ten years now, and in 2013 our capital city Kingston hosted its first half-marathon.
Kingston and its surrounding communities have idyllic terrain for rigorous long distance competitions. The area is home to rolling hills, rugged mountains, historic scenery, lush tropical vegetation, sandy beaches, country villages and the urban setting of ‘Town’. The most demanding marathon courses present the greatest challenges, and the sweetest tastes of victory. Kingston is blessed with a landscape that will support high quality long distance running courses.
Sunday March 10th 2013 was the first annual Kingston City Run. The run featured a weekend full of fun and activities leading up to the morning of the big race. What better way to start off the festivities than with a Bacchanal Party. Friday night, there was a welcome and kick-off party at Jamaica Carnival Mas Camp. True to the event name, it was a bacchanal time. Special guest star Beenie Man thrilled the crowd with a performance worthy of his nickname ‘King of the Dancehall’.
Saturday, The Wyndham in New Kingston hosted The Kingston City Run Health and Fitness Expo. Race check-in was also strategically held at the Wyndham, and tables were located just outside the ballroom of the health expo. Local organizations and businesses presented healthy lifestyle options at their expo booths and tables. The event included presentations, giveaways and lots of healthy lifestyle information. The hosts included The Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Jamaica Cancer Society, Totally Male Clubspa Salon, Adam and Eve Day Spa and numerous others. Runners World Magazine’s ‘Mayor of Running’ Bart Yasso gave an informative, comical and encouraging presentation. I was registered to participate in the 5K, by the time Bart finished speaking I was so inspired, I felt like I should run the half marathon. Fortunately, his talk was peppered with lots of common sense advice and I knew better than to take on something I had not properly trained for.
Sunday morning was race day. The half marathon started at 6:15 AM and the 5K at 6:45 AM. The Kingston City Run organizers held a soft launch for their first event. Over 2,000 people entered, an impressive turnout for an inaugural event. The starting line of the 5K was filled with runners and walkers of all ages. I met a gentleman over the age of 80 and also one young lad aged 11. It was exhilarating to see so many people up stretching, warming up and carrying out their pre-race rituals. The half marathon took the runners on a tour of Kingston. The route included running across the grounds of Devon House and Kings House; passing Bob Marley Museum; through Hope Gardens; across UWI’s campus and ending up at Emancipation park. The 5K took us to Devon’s house, Kings house, across Lady Musgrave Rd and back to New Kingston to end up at Emancipation Park.
Closing ceremonies were hosted by several fun filled lively hosts. Warm down activities included a Harlem Shake line dance. Onlookers cheered as prizes were awarded to winners of the various age divisions. The air was filled with the aura of runners enjoying the high that comes from completing a race. But in Jamaica, awards and thank-you speeches aren’t enough to close out an event, there must be an after-party. The Kingston City Run poolside after-party was hosted by the Jamaica Pegasus hotel. While cooling down, party goers enjoyed jerked delights, cold drinks and hot music. The air was filled with post-race performance evaluations and hopes of a bigger and better City Run event in 2014. I too am looking forward to the second annual Kingston City Run. With all Kingston has to offer, Boston and New York marathon organizers will soon be looking over their shoulders. Kingston is sure to be gaining on them, afterall…..we likkle but we tallawah!