Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Some 30 countries will be represented at this year's staging of the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k, which will run off in Negril on December 1.
Now in its 12th year, the internationally certified event, which is being spearheaded by the Jamdammers Running Club, is being hailed as a major tool in Jamaica's sports tourism offering, with what is expected to be the largest overseas showing this year
For the first time since its introduction, the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k, which is ranked among the top 10 marathons in the world, has been included in the Burger King series, which started last Sunday with the Montego Bay 7K, and also features the November 11 Portmore 10k.
One of the best ever
Race director Alfred Francis announced at yesterday's launch at the Altamont Court hotel in New Kingston that several steps have been taken to ensure that this year's staging goes down as one of the best ever.
Entrants will be allowed to make donations to the event's outreach programme through a revamped online system, while organisers have also received support from the likes of American Airlines and Knutsford Express, where transportation is concerned.
"Even though Jamaica is not at the top as far as distance running is concerned, we have a wonderful product in Reggae Marathon that is ranked as one of the top 10 marathons in the world, and it does provide a base as far as the development of our youngsters are concerned," Francis noted, adding that Usain Bolt competed in the marathon as a schoolboy in 2000.
"The diversity where the nationalities is concerned is fabulous and PUMA Running has been doing a lot of promotions in South America, and we are building awareness that Jamaica is not only about sprints, but have one of the top 10 marathons in the world," Francis added.
Minster without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, lauded the event for its contribution to sports tourism.
"This is what is going to be the epitome of sports tourism in Jamaica, with some 31 countries being represented in December to be a part of this marathon, and it's a fantastic opportunity for us to widen the platform of sports," said Neita-Headley.
FULL CAPTION: Sagicor's assistant manager, public relations and group marketing, Karlene Dennis (left), makes a cheque presentation to Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K race director, Alfred Francis (right), while Jamdammers executive Richard Lake (second left), minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley (centre), and JAMPRO's regional manager for the Caribbean, Latin America and emerging markets, Jason Hall, look on during yesterday's launch of the event at the Altamont Court hotel. - Chadwyck Vassell/Photographer