Running a marathon, half marathon, 10K with reggae
A sound-off in Negril Square on Thursday will herald the start of the annual Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K, which take place next Saturday in Westmoreland.
The musical clash will feature Negril-area sound systems and from the competition, winners will be selected for 14 music stations that will be set up along the 26.2-mile looped course.
The annual event, which had its first staging in 2001, has built a famed international reputation and is ranked by the London Times as one of the top-10 road races in the world.
Its infusion of reggae music, both on the course and in associated events - a unique blend of sports and culture - is what makes the Reggae Marathon unique.
Over 1800 participants are expected and they will compete to the soothing sounds of reggae from music stations at every mile post along the route, to boost their morale and give an extra jolt of energy.
In fact, reggae music will be everywhere at Reggae Marathon - from the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association's (JHTA)-sponsored Pasta Party at Couples Swept Away on Friday to Saturday morning's torch-lit start at 5:15 a.m. on Norman Manley Boulevard, and finally to the finish line's Beach Bash Party at Long Bay Beach Park.
Race director Alfred Francis explains the importance of including the music stations, which bring an intangible element to the event, which has become one of is marquee features.
"We consider the music men as part of the Reggae Marathon team. What they do is irreplaceable in terms of the value to the event itself and their ability to motivate and interact with participants during the run is a massive asset, which has developed into one of the unique features of the event over the years," said Francis.
"They are versed in hospitality and it's one of the reasons the international guests feel so at home at the event each year, while getting to experience our culture through music," he added.
Jamaica's music has been such a massive influence on the marathon that the top awards are named after the country's very own 'Reggae Royals' with the Bob Marley and Rita Marley trophies handed out to the male and female champions, respectively.
The reggae-filled event will close with live performances at the Victory Beach Party and Awards Ceremony at Long Bay Beach Park on Saturday, starting at 7am. the 2014 Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon or 10K events.