Better In The Bahamas?

On Sunday I fled the cold and ran in the Marathon Bahamas Half Marathon. I know they say “It’s Better in the Bahamas” and it may be, but if we’re talking about my time it was not. I ran 1:57:11, about 4 minutes slower than my average and 12 minutes behind my PB. That was still fast enough to finish first among the 13 old men that ran the half, but as usual I would rather have the pace than the place.
We flew down on Friday and stayed on the aptly named “Junkanoo Beach” at the Courtyard Marriott there. I picked the hotel because it was right at the start line and if there’s one thing I like about racing in a distant locale it is being close enough to roll out of bed and start running. There are nicer and much more expensive places to stay on the island but for our purposes this was perfect. They had a gym and a pool and a “bistro” where you could get food and drinks
We walked down to Arawak Cay to an area known as “the fish fry” for dinner. It’s a couple of blocks of seafood shacks with energetic ambassadors trying to lure you into their particular shack. Ultimately we opted for a joint called “Goldies” that we had seen mentioned on one of the travel sites and it seemed to be populated with local residents which to me meant the food most be good. And it was if you like fried fish! One of the features was their conch sous chef who showed us how you get a conch out of its shell and dismember it for human consumption. I enjoyed the show but my wife- not so much. The conch fritters were pretty tasty regardless.
After dinner we ran into Wanda Gau and her husband Buddy from Minnesota – she asked if I was running the marathon since I guess I have acquired that basic distance runner look with a wardrobe consisting largely of race shirts and running shoes. Turns out Wanda was not only running the marathon but she’s pretty accomplished – she was invited to the race directors dinner on Saturday and finished 2nd overall among the female runners at 3:17 on Sunday. She ran the half marathon 22 minutes faster than I did, and then did it again!
On Saturday we ventured over to Paradise Island and were able to visit the casino and shopping area at Atlantis, which was essentially Vegas, and then we ate a giant plate of nachos at Margaritaville. If you’re looking for something authentic don’t expect to see it on Paradise Island but if you like Vegas you’ll like it just fine. I’m not sure I’m ready to endorse the giant plate of nachos the day before the race however as I had a pretty good case of heartburn all night. After the nachos we went to a resort named Melia where the expo and packet pickup was. Melia seemed like a good resort for the family with lots of kid amenities and pools outside but it also had a kind of a stark modern Miami Beach feel to it inside. Again, nicer than the Courtyard Marriott but too far away from the start line. If you stayed out there you’d have to take a shuttle to the start line in the morning. The expo was sparse and although we got there just after it opened there was a mega line to collect bibs. As it turns out though the mega line was just for people with names starting with A-H. There was no one on the I-Q line or the R-Z line which thankfully someone on the A-H line pointed out to us. It could have been better communicated that there was more than one line, but what’s with everyone having a last name starting with A-H?
Race morning was an early 6AM start which some felt was too early but I liked it since I normally run before 6 anyway. We ran through downtown Nassau and over the bridges to and from Paradise Island, which was the only real elevation on the whole course. I got up and down them fairly easily and was cruising at about 8:30 through mile 3. The sun began to rise as we made a turn along the beach back towards town – a beautiful vista that portended warmer air. I started dumping water over my head at every station trying to stay cool.
We ran back down along Junkanoo Beach and past the start line as we headed out along the shore to about Melia where the race turned back to Arawak Cay. I felt strong and energetic but couldn’t seem to get my pace up. I was hoping for a time much closer to my PB since the course was so flat, but I was dipping into the 9’s pretty consistently by mile 7. A marching band played as runners crossed the finish line and many of us headed straight for the ocean for a refreshing swim.
We were able to walk back to the hotel to grab some breakfast before returning to the awards ceremony since we were staying right there. Much to my relief I was awarded a nice beer mug with an inscription commemorating my 1st place finish instead of the big honking conch shell pasted to a plaque that the 1st place finishers in the marathon got.
It rained Sunday afternoon so instead of exploring we watched football until dinner at The Poop Deck, which was ok. Monday morning was brisk but that didn’t stop us from having breakfast on Junkanoo Beach at the Tiki Hut, where they seemed surprised to see us in the cold light of morning. The food was ok but the service was slow – despite the fact that we were 100% of the customers – and not particularly welcoming – which was disappointing since for the most part people on the island were very friendly.
Better in the Bahamas? All things considered I’d say yes. I’d recommend this race as a great way to flee the winter cold.

4 thoughts on “Better In The Bahamas?

  1. Your slower than average time was probably due to the warm weather; at least I assume it was warm during the race. It sounds like a great little break from winter to me! Congrats on your AG win and beer mug!


  2. Wow a half-marathon in the Bahamas. I would have been so distracted by all of the nonrunning activities. Congrats on your finish.

    “The food was ok but the service was slow – despite the fact that we were 100% of the customers ”
    Traveling abroad, I go to restaurants with struggling service (or take a couple of trips to my local post office) so I can get used to slow service. Not saying that slow service is super bad, I just have to acclimate myself from NYC’s fast paced lifestyle to another country’s way of life.

    Where the next half marathon?


    1. Kwame good advice on preparing for “island time” as one waiter put it. Definitely not NY. My next half is here in Birmingham – the Mercedes Marathon and Half.


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