I lived through the Reggae Run!

The Reggae Run in Cincinnati is like a big party with a 5K in the middle of it. It’s a race through a hilly neighborhood with free food, drinks and a reggae band at the end. People show up in reggae hats with fake dreadlocks and various other crazy gear. Last year 8000 people came, and this year they kept saying it was by far the biggest year ever.

Even showing up an hour early we had to park on side streets and walk 20 minutes to the park. There was no chance of getting to the car and back before the race, so we ditched our race shirts and spare clothes under a bush. and went to the starting line.

The first leg is a rolling downhill slope of about a mile. My running partner helped me keep my pace down so I wouldn’t wear myself out. It’s easy to get pulled along by the people who kept passing (by the hundreds) but I knew I had to save my strength. Some were yelling and singing and some were even drinking as they ran. The neighborhood turns out to watch and cheer. Some houses had the windows open with reggae blasting out. At the bottom of the hill is a sharp right up Delta Ave which is a half mile straight uphill.

At this point most of the pack I was running with stopped and started walking. We ran part of this Thursday, so I knew what I was up against and kept trudging up the hill. Since it’s straight you can see the top of the hill. Once there, it’s a right turn onto what looks like a flat stretch. It’s not until you make the turn that you see another short, steep hill. I’ll not repeat the language that came out of people who thought the uphill was over. 🙂

I knew what to expect so I just kept trudging up the hill. At the top there’s a little bit of flat ground that leads to a couple rolling hills before the long uphill grade back to the park and the finish line. This was the fun part, as the hills were steep enough that I leaned forward, lengthened my stride and just blasted down, passing people like crazy. Gravity just carried me along. On the upslope I leaned back and shortened my stride again letting some of the people pass I’d just flown by. Next hill I blasted down again then I started the long slow trudge to the finish line. I’d saved just enough strength to make it, but the last mile keeps curving so you can never see the end. I was so glad to see the finish line and be done with it.

The party was just nuts. By the time we grabbed our clothes from under the bush and changed shirts, the crowd was packed elbow to elbow around the food tents, and boy was I hungry. Lines where slow because by the time we got there they couldn’t keep up with the demand. The line to the beer truck was just this huge mass of people that didn’t seem to be moving so we gave up. We went up and watched the band and it was nice to just stand in one place for a while. With reggae though, I’m not likely to stand still. The race is in memory of a girl named Maria who was murdered running in that area, and the band told her story. After a few more songs we started the long walk back to the car.

It was a fabulous time and I can see it becoming a yearly tradition for me. Anyone who can at least walk 3 miles ought to try it. I met my goal of finishing without walking, I challenged myself a little and I had fun.

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