Run Barbados Marathon
Each December, the Caribbean island of Barbados plays host to a weekend filled with running. Race organizers Kristina and Zari Evelyn have created what could be called a “marathon of events,” with runners encouraged to sign up for multiple races, teasing Disney-like special medals if you finish three in a weekend.
The weekend kicks off with the nigh-time mile race around the historic Garrison, a unesco World Heritage Site. The mile is a low key introduction to what running in Barbados is all about. Chill tunes echo out of the speakers on the back of the lead vehicle, as a few hundred runners cruise around the picturesque streets of the original 17th century Bridgetown settlement. It’s dark, but you can still make out the vibrant pastel-painted row houses speckling the city. You’ll be happy you’re getting your island running initiation sans the sun, as the heat gets intense mid-day on the island.
The weekend also offers a 5k, 10k, half-marathon and full 42.2k for those looking to run a marathon in a unique environment. The entire island is 34 kilometres long, making its western coastline the ideal path for an out-and-back half-marathon. Mercifully, Barbados is remarkably f lat compared to the others in the region. The entire landmass is made of limestone, pushed up by a few millimetres per millennia at the middle of the island. And although the organizers have kept the courses along the water, there still are a few mild ups and downs along the way. A spectacular coral reef crowns the island, adding to the colour and beauty to keep you company if you choose to do the marathon, which is two laps of the 21.1k route. It’s a good thing that these longer events start at 5 a.m. because once the sun comes up it will be warm. The race is prepared for this though. There are ample aid stations with electrolyte drink, water and gels. The organizers even send out roving support cyclists on course, offering you a gel if you are wilting in the sun.
All the action starts and ends in the capital of Bridgetown. “Town,” as the locals call it, is a bustling little island metropolis of about 110,000 people tucked away in the southwest of the nose-shaped island. The area gets its name from the indigenous bridge that the first British settlers found when they first arrived on the deserted island. The bridge forded a the Careenage marshaland. The 17th century original settlement area was named an unesco World Heritage Site in 2011, and includes a house where George Washington once spent some time.
Each year a group of Canadians, hosted by Canada Running Series, head to the marathon weekend for a special experience. crs founder Alan Brookes first attended the race back in 1984, in just its second year. He even stepped in as as race director for a couple of years in early 2000s to help revive the slumping event. Since the new organizers took over a couple of years ago, Brookes feels that the event has reemerged as a premier racemeets-vacation experience. “It’s the perfect year-end reward,” Brookes says. “It’s really about the vacation. It’s the run that gets us there. It’s about relaxing on Barbados’ world-famous beaches, going for a day out on the spectacular azure Caribbean water, likely on a catamaran. The races are the victory lap for your year.”
Last year, Olympians Natasha Wodak and Lanni Marchant took their own victory lap after racing at the Rio Olympics by tagged along to hung out with the group for the weekend. They both raced the 10k and their finish went viral when a video showed them destined to tie for the win, only to be caught at the line by Trinidad and Tobago’s Tonya Nero, which has been viewed nearly 14 million times. Both will be back with Canada Running Series this year, and no doubt will check over their shoulders before finishing off their racing seasons.