Run in the sun

David Castle takes one for the team to endure a weekend of racing on the island paradise of Barbados

It’s dark. It’s hot. It’s 5am and I’m sweating uncontrollably. Even though I opted for my lightest running vest, it’s already drenched and I’m only
a mile into the race.

Welcome to the Barbados Marathon Festival, a long-established gem of a weekend that takes place on the west coast of the island.

Men’s Running is on the Caribbean paradise not only to take in the festival of running (there’s six races over three days) but also to experience the island during the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ independence.

Race night proper starts on the Friday with the mile: a short, sharp and frantic affair that has the locals exploding like Usain Bolt for the first 200 metres, only for the older, more experienced runners to come flooding past thereafter. It’s great to watch, as the fast milers charge past us into the finishing straight.

You can already tell that the races gather an eclectic mix of runners, with locals and international runners making up the 1,000 or so competitors over the six different distances: mile, 5K, 10K, half, full marathon and 5K walk.

A very generous prize fund has something to do with this, as good money can be made at these races; the winner of the marathon not only wins BDS$4,000 (about US$2,000) but a return trip to the island including flights and hotel.

It is possible to do races on all three days; in fact, the many Brits we spoke to did exactly that, opting for the mile, the 10K and either the half or full marathon on the Sunday. It’s a good plan – and a great medal haul – but with less than 12 hours to recover between the 10K and the 5am start for the longer races, it’s definitely a lesson in pace judgement. The 85% humidity makes it difficult to run at your usual pace so adjust your sights accordingly.

The course is flat and fast (humidity aside) and is generally well-supported along the route. The locals get involved and there’s a great atmosphere throughout the weekend. The race is well organised, there’s plenty of water and sponges throughout the course, and the best thing is you can cool off in the sea 10 metres from the finish. There’s also the rum…but that’s best saved for another day.

Enter the race weekend by visiting

David Castle

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