Interview with Reggae Marathon Race Director, Alfred Francis – Celebrating 10 years

This year the Reggae Marathon celebrates its 10-year anniversary as one of Jamaica’s premiere marathon events. This week we sit down with Race Director, Alfred Francis and ask 10 questions about the Reggae Marathon. 

Q. When the Reggae Marathon was started in 2001 did you envision it becoming the premiere marathon event in Jamaica?
Thanks for giving Reggae Marathon the opportunity to respond to your queries, I am happy to be asked. Yes, Xavier, we did envision this as that was and is, our aim.

Q. Many people ran in the first Reggae Marathon? How many are you expecting this year? In the history of the marathon how many Jamaican winners has there been?

Over 900 persons participated in 2001, and we are expecting 1400 this year. Over the past 9 years, we have had 7 male and female winners of the Marathon event.  This number does not include winners in the Half Marathon nor 10K categories where we have had many winners over the years. 

Q: How many nations were represented last year in the Marathon? How is the Jamaican Diaspora support for the event?
Over 21 countries were represented in 2009.  The Jamaican Diaspora has been supportive in terms of participation and some print and electronic media targeting the Diaspora have assisted in promoting the event.  Of course we welcome more participation by members of the Diaspora and hope to reach more persons in 2011 through our Embassies and Consulates.  Our partner, the Jamaica Tourist Board has also been very supportive in reaching out to the Diaspora too.

Q: Apart from the increased number of marathon runners each year, how has the event changed over the past 10 years?
The Entertainment element of the event has increased – there are more live bands on the course; there is an increased thrust in Runner Care for our participants; a 10K event has been added since 2008 and of course, we have become a world renowned event.

Q: Any chance you will bring back the relay event or incorporate an alumni event? Any surprise Reggae artists for the after party?
No, we will not go back to a relay event, and there already is the High School Championships within the Half Marathon and 10K Events.  The surprise Reggae Artists, will have to remain a surprise!

Q. Jamaica is known its sprinters not marathon runners. Can you give us an education on some of the top marathon runners and the marathon clubs in Jamaica?
In Jamaica, some of the top Marathon Runners are: Linton McKenzie, Rupert Green and Andrew Gutzmere who have all won the Reggae Marathon at some point and for the ladies, we are equally proud to name Arieta Martin, and Carlene Blagrove.  Some Marathon Clubs are the Jamdammers Running Club, organizers of the Reggae Marathon event, Ebony Track Club, It Dat, and the Jamaica Money Market Brokers Corporate Team.

Q: Do you believe the popularity of marathon events in Jamaica will change view of some that we are the “Sprint factory” and Africa is the “marathon running factory”?

No, this perception will not change, our sprinters are getting better, and even this year, our sprinters dominate the world scene.


Q. Are there any young Jamaican marathon runners who could be the Jamaican Usain Bolt in the event? What is his/her name?
No, not yet, we are working on laying the foundation for them to emerge.

Q: What year do you think we will hear the name of a Jamaican Marathon runner at the Olympics?
Maybe in 2016, and we have had representation in the Marathon category at the Commonwealth Games.

Q: For a few they are there to support runner and the after parties features many leading Jamaican reggae performers.
We welcome them and hope they too will embrace the concept of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through running.


About the author

Xavier Murphy