As a writer who specializes in tropical destinations, I spend about half the year running the Caribbean, exit registration spas, restaurants and beaches for a variety of outlets travel. Which, I admit, is quite large. But most rewarding is to have the opportunity to literally run around the Caribbean for a career destination. So how was the run Barbados festival?
So far I have raced in Antigua, Jamaica and the Bahamas. And my last competition in the Caribbean took place last December when I was invited by the people of Barbados Tourism to participate in its series Run Barbados.
Established over 30 years ago, the event weekend-long collected from miles distance marathon run through one of the Caribbean’s Instagram-worthy (trust me on this) destinations of participants at a distance Antigua and as far away as Australia.
How Was The Run Barbados Festival?
So if you are ramping up their training for a spring race, planning a “runcation” with your taste buds run, or run along the streets beachfront in warm temperatures in December sounds like your jam should consider implementing Barbados on your calendar 2019. Here’s all you need to know to make it happen.
Only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, Barbados (or “Bim”, as the locals call it) is the easternmost island of the region bathed by the Caribbean on its western and southern coasts and planting the Atlantic friendly surfer on the east. You may not know the island as the birthplace of rum, but I’m sure you will recognize it as the birthplace of Rihanna.
Compact and easy to explore (the local bus system is safe, reliable and cost only $ 2 to get anywhere) still packed with sights and attractions, this is a fun and friendly destination for families with a high standard of hotels and restaurants. (It is also one of the country’s most expensive Caribbean, so start saving those pennies!)
There are five races over three days: a mile-long sprint on Friday night; a 5k and 10k on Saturday night; and a half-marathon and marathon on Sunday morning. All races start at Bayfront waterfront Esplanade in sweeping white sands of Carlisle Bay, where dancers, stilt walkers, and reggae and soca music booming from the speakers’ giant roadside help get the party started.
With more than 700 participants on Friday mile is the most popular event, with separate divisions for men, women, and children. I find it challenging, not only because the night-time starts (I’m a jogger) but also because of the dark parts of the course and the holes (next time I will wear a headlamp). With no digital clock on the route, you have your Garmin if you want to track your progress in the field, the wind from the coast and then along the main road to Bridgetown (capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and back.
This is my first-mile race (I am more than 10k and a half marathon kinda gal) and I was surprised to see how hard it is! You need to start fast, run fast and finish fast to conquer this distance, and a hot night (in the mid-80s F) and humidity (about 90 percent) only makes it more challenging. However, I PR-ed (ah, the benefits of running the distance for the first time!) With the end time of 09:34, and I have set a 9-minute mile run as a goal for 2019.
Because both the 5k and 10k early in the evening, you should plan Saturday food carefully so that you arrive at the start line nourished and hydrated but not too full. (And believe me, because Barbados offers some of the best cuisines the Caribbean this, this will be a challenge.) About 700 people toed the line for a 5k that, driven by a speech impromptu from none other than the prime minister of the island, Mia Mottley, waving from the balcony of his office otherwise Esplanade.
After 5k’ers back, 10k (which I do) began, tracing the same route to Bridgetown, and through Careenage historic marina. The crowd thinned out as we were out of town and towards the harbor, but there are plenty of stops for narcissistic in the sign marking Rihanna drive (where Rhi Rhi raised) – and we all got a boost from Christmas lights magical displays the time we headed back along the city’s main attraction, Broad Street.
My top tip for a 5 and 10k-ers: Bring your own hydration! While there is a water stop, they are placed in strange spots in the field (for 10k, there is a station less than a mile and then no more until after mile 3). And there does not appear to be a meal at the finish, so pack snacks, too.
It takes a brave soul to run a half or 26.2 miles in the tropical temps (Editor’s note: He was not wrong!) But records show that more than 400 participants went the distance on Sunday. Fortunately, it is relatively cold pre-dawn early, but temps quickly ramped up to the mid-80s along the course, which ran along the western shores of Carlisle Bay north to Paynes Bay. Marathon runners will need to prepare mentally as they walk two loops of half alone (and because it must pass through the start/finish halfway). And if you rely on energy gels, bring your own – only water and Powerade in hydration stops.
Kudos to the organizers of the race because it was the boss bling! There are no rinky-dink medals here; only colorful, heavy metal to commemorate your victories. I am very happy with my mile and 10k medal – that is until I saw the medal challenge, cooler. Run a mile, 10k and marathon (gold challenge); mile, 10k and a half (silver challenge); or a mile, 5k half (challenges bronze) and you’ll score extra medal for your shelves – or to wear on your first day back at the office, there is no judgment.
Food To Eats
Athletes need fuel, right? And Barbados provide with all kinds of delicious noms. After Friday night a mile, follow the crowd to Oistins, a fishing village south coast rock with locals and visitors enjoy the weekly fish fry and street party. On the menu: heaping platters of mahi-mahi, tuna, marlin, kingfish, and lobster from various roadside stands (Uncle George was my favorite) served with “macaroni pie” (mac and cheese, for the uninitiated).
Gravel Beach is a great pick for Saturday R & R and lunch, not only because of its fine white sand but because that is where you will find a food truck this cuz. For decades he has been serving up “cutter” (sandwich) made with marlin fillet sauteed located on salt bread soft-soft bun and topped with a slice of cheese. The only thing better than the taste was the price – a bargain in this expensive island is only $ 10 a pop.
After the race you more on Sundays, you can throw caution to the wind and really chow down. For a great meal in a really fun atmosphere, consider Scarlet Paynes Bay. This concept of “high-end rum bar,” with ruby-red decor is amazing, the atmosphere is relaxed but sophisticated, and the food was outstanding. Start with truffle popcorn and sealed the deal with a pot of lemon ginger for dessert. (And stay for a rollicking karaoke.)
Once you conquer your race, it’s time for your runcation part of the holiday. Start by getting a broad overview of Bim in an open Jeep Safari Island Tours. Beginning in Bridgetown, the half-day adventure takes you around the island, from Bathsheba (a beautiful rough surf spots on the east coast) to St Nicholas Abbey, a Jacobean plantation house 1660s, who now serves as a museum of colonial life. (Be sure to pick up a bottle of their small-batch 5-, 12- or 18-year rum.)
Of course, you will want to log some time in the sand – and with 70 miles of beach here you have many choices. In the Caribbean (western) coast of calm, Mullins, Brandon, Carlisle Bay and the beach Browne is great picks. At Pebbles Beach, a 15-minute walk from the Courtyard by Marriott, $ 20 gets two beach chairs and an umbrella for the day. (If you wake up in the morning, stop by and watch the grooms of the Garrison Savannah racetrack near horse bathing them in the light of dawn.)
Other fun things to do: Harrison Caves (network-mile-long coral caves you explore through electric trams) and half-day catamaran cruise Cool Runnings’, complete with a stop snorkeling, lunch buffet and plenty of rum punch!
What You Need To Know Before You Go?
How to get there: From my hometown of Miami and the US northeast coast gateway other, just more than three hours to fly non-stop service to Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI). Carriers with direct flights from the US, including American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue. WestJet and Air Canada offer the service of our neighbor to the north, and the runners are from Europe and the UK should check out British Airways, Condor, and Virgin Atlantic.
Where I live races organized by the official partner hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, Bridgetown, which is only a five-minute drive (or a shakeout short run) from Bay Street Esplanade starting line. Room (rate includes breakfast) modern and spacious; and the staff is friendly and helpful. One drawback: the hotel is not by the sea so you have to cross the main road to the beach, but it’s less than a five-minute walk away. Radisson Aquatica basic but had a fab location right at Pebbles Beach. And if you want to go all-inclusive (and do not mind being off the beach) checking Island Inn.
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