The Virgin Islands will welcome some of the world’s leading marathoners for a special cruise marathon on Monday, the Tourism Department said in a press release.
Tourism and the St. Thomas Association of Roadrunners are partnering with international adventure-travel company Z Adventures to host the St. Thomas Cruise Marathon.
The marathon is part of the cruise adventure dubbed "Southern Caribbean Challenge," where renowned amateur athletes will participate in six marathons in six destinations over the course of a one-week cruise vacation.
The event begins Sunday in San Juan, followed by runs in St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten, where the final event will take place Feb. 6.
"Supporting this event is in keeping with our goal to further develop sports tourism opportunities in our islands," Assistant Tourism Commissioner Joyce Dore-Griffin said.
According to Tourism’s Angela Payne, who is helping to organize the race, the route will run from the west gate of the West Indian Co. dock behind Wendy’s to the eastern portion of the Tortola Wharf.
“It’s all on sidewalks,” Payne said.
She said those running the full marathon will do eight complete loops with those aiming for a half marathon doing four loops.
Payne said there will be aid stations at Wendy’s, at the U.S. Coast Guard station and at the Tortola Wharf.
The idea for the cruise adventure was developed by Ziyad Rahim, founder and chief executive officer of Z Adventures. He is well known in the extreme marathon world.
Rahim, an adventure runner from Pakistan, holds multiple Guinness World Records in long-distance running.
In 2015, he took 36 runners from around the world to attempt seven marathons on seven continents in the least number of days. The team completed the feat in 10 days and broke 13 Guinness World Records in the process.
The 34-member group coming to St. Thomas comprises runners who combined have broken more than 20 Guinness World Records, and have participated in more than 2,500 marathons in more than 100 countries. The youngest competitor on the trip is eight and the oldest is 78.
"The whole idea of arranging this adventure is to allow runners to complete a marathon in as many destinations as they can, and at the cheapest possible price," Rahim said. "There are runners who have completed marathons in 80 to 100 countries but none has competed in the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
He said explained most of the runners are part of Marathon Country Club and Marathon Globetrotters, whose aim is to check off as many countries as they can.
"These are everyday folks with families and full-time jobs who are keen to attempt challenges that are out of their comfort zones," Rahim said.
The group includes notable athletes from different nations including Juergen Kuhlmey from Germany, who at 78 has run more than 500 marathons in 57 countries, and Tuedon Morgan of Nigeria, a 42-year-old mother of four who began running marathons to change her unhealthy lifestyle and now holds two Guinness World Records. Additionally, J.C. Santa Teresa of the Philippines, who is a Guinness World Record holder for completing 21 ultramarathons in consecutive days, will participate.
Tourism and STAR are working with Rahim to make the Cruise Marathon an annual event for St. Thomas.
For further information and to participate in the race, contact Payne at 774-8784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.