Runners from 30 countries around the world will converge in the island in December for the annual Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10-K event.
The event, which has become a stable on the international sports calendar, is scheduled to take place in Negril, Westmoreland on Saturday, December 1. Now in its 12th year, the event has ranked among the top 10 marathons in the world on five different occasions, and has generated in excess of US$11 million in foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Among the participating countries are newcomers Poland and Argentina, while there will be an increase in competitors from traditional entrants such as Japan, Brazil and Canada.
Speaking at the official launch on Wednesday (Oct.10) at the Altamont Court hotel in New Kingston, Minister with responsibility for Sport, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, congratulated the organisers on consistently putting on a world-class event.
She pointed out that the event has effectively combined two of the country’s greatest offerings – sport and culture – and continues to showcase Jamaica’s prowess in both areas.
“It is (therefore) incumbent on all of us that this brand Jamaica attraction remains with us for a very long time. I want to make a special appeal that we guard this event well, so that it can continue to bring tangible benefits to our people and our country,” she urged.
Race Director, Alfred Francis, informed that this year will see the largest number of overseas participants in the event’s history. He said that there will also be increased media coverage, with a film crew from ESPN Argentina expected to cover the event.
He noted that the increase in numbers was largely due to the marketing and promotional efforts of the Reggae Marathon team and its partners, particularly PUMA and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).
“Our efforts have paid off and to date, we have seen the success in the increase in registration numbers over last year,” Mr. Francis informed.
He said that participation increased by 13 per cent in 2011, “and I hope that we do even better this year”.