The clock is ticking for one of the most unusual marathons in the world … the reggae-inspired 26-mile road race of Jamaica.

Jamaica is gearing up for the reggae marathon in December.

Jamaica is gearing up for the reggae marathon in December. Image by Eva Rinaldi / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Reggae marathon, although just fifteen years old, has quickly grown into an international event with 2,500 athletes expected from 35 different countries for this year’s staging, which runs from December 3 to 5.

Runners from across Europe and the United States are expected to visit and at every mile mark will be met with a different reggae band to keep their spirits from flagging.

The race begins in darkness, starting at 5.15am but even then temperatures are not expected to go above 24 degrees Celsius (76 Fahrenheit).

For athletes worried about overheating however, cooling stations with iced towel wraps are offered along the course.

The best feature of any marathon is of course the finish line, and in the Reggae Marathon the running ends on the famous four mile Negril beach.

Runners cool down in the heat last year.

Runners cool down in the heat last year. Image by Reggae Marathon 2015

At the beach, the marathon turns into a carnival and the male and female winners are presented with trophies in honour of Bob and Rita Marley.

Organisers said the race had generated a US$11 million boost for the local economy in what had traditionally been a slack period before the Christmas holiday rush.

Themed marathons are growing in popularity around the world with the emphasis far less about running at some of them.

France’s Marathon du Medoc takes place every September through a famous vineyard region near Bordeaux with refreshment stations offering not just water, but also wine.

Billed as the ‘longest marathon in the world’, it has grown so large that numbers are now limited to 8,500 participants to manage demand.

However, it will take a while before any themed races catch up on the most popular marathons in the world. The races at New York, Chicago, Paris, London and Tokyo all had at least 30,000 participants cross the finishing line in their latest stagings.